This week is a huge week in the history of Longlevens AFC, with the club set to play current Hellenic League leaders Westfields before their first ever appearance in the FA Vase Second Round, away at Falmouth Town.
During the week we will be gearing up to the big away trip to Cornwall by speaking to a couple of Longlevens’ longer serving players, starting with club captain Shaun O’Connor. O’Connor played a major role in the club’s survival in the Hellenic Premier last season and has recently returned injury for a big October for the club.
“In all I actually ended up missing 7 weeks,” said the former Brockworth Albion man. “I didn’t realise I’d actually broken my foot for the first 5 weeks so I tried coming back too soon, which didn’t help.
I was able to do some running whilst I was out though and maintain some fitness, which has helped, but I still feel like I’m two or three games away from getting back into decent shape.”
Whilst O’Connor was missing through the injury, Longlevens suffered in midfield and their most inconsistent period of the season came with their captain on the sidelines. However, O’Connor made his comeback for Longlevens’ FA Vase First Round tie with Cowes Sports, in which he marshalled his teammates for the full 90 minutes and the whole of extra time to see Levens claim a history making 1-0 win.
“Playing 120 minutes in my first game back wasn’t ideal, but it was a big game for the clubs and thankfully we got the result that we wanted.
I think that we grew stronger as the game went on and we were the only team likely to score in extra time – which shows that our fitness levels and desire are up there, especially from the young side that we have at the moment,” O’Connor added.
This weekend Longlevens make their first appearance in the Second Round of the FA Vase and will also be making their longest trip ever to take on South West Peninsula League side Falmouth Town, beating the FA Vase trip to Sevenoaks Town two seasons ago. But ahead of that game, O’Connor has called on his side to not just see it as mission accomplished to reach this far and actually look to play to their full potential.
“Saturday is another big game for the club and we seem to be having a lot of these recently, which is credit to everyone involved. We went from never winning a game in the FA Vase to making the First Round three seasons in a row!
But I don’t think it’s a case of us just being proud to get this far before the game, it’s all about going there and getting the right result. If we play to our full potential and get our key players playing in the right areas then I have no doubt that we will come away with a win.
It is a long trip and we’re staying away afterwards and we always seem to get decent results when we have nights out planned, so hopefully this is going to be another one to add to the list,” O’Connor said.
On Wednesday night Longlevens host league leaders Westfields, their first game since romping to a 3-0 win over local rivals Brimscombe & Thrupp last week – in a game that saw manager Craig Martin describe the first half as “the best 45 minutes” he had ever seen at Longlevens and O’Connor echoed the praise for his teammates.
“We definitely played near to our best against Brimscombe, who normally give us a really tough game but they’d be disappointed in how they played, they made it easy for us really.
Without exaggeration we would have been 7 or 8 goals up by half time if it hadn’t been for their keeper, but some of their players seemed more interested in moaning at the referee and trying to wind our players up, which ended up working to our advantage.
That being said, we had some great performances on the night, especially from some of our younger players like Harry [Emmett], Isaac [Johns] and Ollie [Long] who I thought were brilliant.”
O’Connor is expected to be in the squad for the game against Westfields on Wednesday night, but there is potential that he may not start with a look ahead to Saturday’s game.
Finally we asked O’Connor, who is into his 7th season at Longlevens, about where the club are right now and what he hopes for the rest of the season.
“I think we are heading in the right direction this season, especially after all that happened last year. With the input of all the coaches and everyone enjoys playing for Spider [manager Craig Martin].
We are still too inconsistent for my liking, but we know we are capable of beating anyone when we are really at it. There has been good contributions from the whole squad all over so far, but I’d give a special mention to both Ollie Long and Harry Emmett who are both 19 or under and have really stepped up for the club this season,” O’Connor added.
Both Longlevens’ home fixture with Westfields and FA Vase tie with Falmouth Town will be featured on Severn Sport. Check back on the website and our Twitter throughout the week for more information.
Longlevens host Westfields in the Hellenic Premier at Saw Mills on Wednesday 30th October; kick off 19:45