AFC Unity again continued to exceed expectations, hosting Hemsworth Miners Welfare (South) and beating them 5-2, incredibly going 4-0 up at half time. “And Hemsworth are no slouches,” said AFC Unity manager Jay Baker, “they’ve got a solid background and play strong football.”
However, Baker feels any pressure has dissipated, and this has only made his “red stars” stronger.
“I think we’re relaxed about the season, and that helps,” said Baker, referring to the low expectations of the newly-formed team’s 2014/15 season. “We’re trying to win games, but we don’t have to win games, and that lack of pressure in this final stretch means we can just enjoy ourselves, and sometimes that means the players perform better – what do we have to prove?”
AFC Unity played some fantastic football, and going into half time 4-0 up meant Baker had the luxury of being able to be more adventurous with his substitutions at a time when, as previously stated, high quality in the squad has made his role much harder.
“The team agreed before the holiday break that it was time to play them out of their comfort zones so we could get back to fulfilling our potential, but it’s also always important to remember it’s not just about healthy competition for spots but also enjoying the experience, and when games aren’t so tight, it gives you chance to make more substitutions and give patient players a run out, and so many players have been so very, very patient.”
The remarks suggested Baker is already looking towards the post-season.
“The post-season is also a pre-season, and we’re thinking about that already,” admitted Baker. “The main thing we want to achieve going forwards is the reinforcement and reiteration of our progressive values, and we’re wanting to make sure everyone is enthusiastic about that, because we’ve talked with similar yet established clubs like Easton Cowgirls, United Glasgow, and Republica Internationale, and they had teething troubles once, too.”
Baker added: “You have to use your first season as a learning experience, something to build on, and at the moment I’m clearly focused on what we can take from what we’ve got, going forward.”
AFC Unity goals were scored by Lucy Strutt (2), Shanie Griffith and Jane Watkinson, while Charlotte Marshall forced an own goal.