Pre-season ends with promise

AFC Unity completed their run of pre-season friendlies in a gutsy comeback from 3-1 down to take a 5-4 loss to Sheffield Wednesday’s Division Two development side.

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Taking an already-thin squad of just thirteen players to the game, more injuries were incurred in the first half, leaving AFC Unity 3-1 down at half-time – part of a pattern this pre-season.

“We’ve been trailing by two goals at half time in each pre-season game,” said manager Jay Baker. “The spirit to fight on has been there from the beginning of the summer, but to bang in three goals in the second game, and again in the third game, is incredible.”

With two goals apiece for vice-captain Rosie Oates – leading the team well on this day in the absence of the injured Jane Watkinson – and Nathalie Silver, who has now scored three goals in two games, AFC Unity battled against the odds to finish the game at a 5-4 loss.

“The guts in this game was unbelievable,” Baker said. “Every single player left nothing on that field. For them to fight on, dig deep, and get a result like that speaks volumes about the spirit of this team. You can never rule them out of anything – they will always fight back no matter what. They always believe.”

Following on from the Now Then magazine interview with co-founders Jay and Jane – where the manager flippantly stated the aim is “to not finish bottom” – he now has a much more seriously optimistic perspective as the start of AFC Unity’s first-ever season approaches, especially given the newly-created three-tier league system:

“We expected to be in Division Two, and we will be soon enough. Yes, that means we’re going for promotion at the first time of asking. Why not?” asked Baker.

“We may have started this club from scratch and built the team in just a few short months, but you look at how far we’ve come through this pre-season, and how much better we’ve gotten, even as we’ve played tougher opponents along the way, and I think we are as good as anyone else in Division Three.”

He added: “Let them call us underdogs; we will play football, we will never give up; we have an ethos and a spirit in this club I believe you’ll find nowhere else. That’s the difference.”

Photo credit: Melanie Naylor

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