Wealdstone boss says team must improve to get promotion play-off spot

manager Gordon Bartlett. manager Gordon Bartlett. Pic credit: Alan Palmer

Ruislip-based Wealdstone must improve or they face missing out on their ambitions of a promotion play off spot, says manager Gordon Bartlett.

The Stones boss believes his side have under-achieved this season, despite the fact the Stones sit in ninth place in the Conference South.

Until yesterday, when they suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Welling, the club had been hitting some form lately, winning each of their prior three games by comfortable margins in both the League and Cup.

The club, who play their home games at The Vale in Grosvenor Vale in Ruislip, have recorded a tally of 22 points from their first 15 games of the season. They lie 7 points off 5th place and the play-offs.

Bartlett told Hillingdon is Here: “I said at the start of the season that we want to be in the top half of the table by Christmas. We’re currently sitting there with a couple of months to go. But, I feel we’ve underachieved a bit so far and there’s room for improvement.

“There’s been a couple of games where we’ve been well and truly beaten but there’s also been a couple of games where we’ve thrown things away and that needs to be addressed if we are going to challenge for one of those play-off places, which is where we’d like to be at the end of the season if possible.”

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His team faced Conference leaders Dagenham and Redbridge recently in the FA Cup and while Bartlett was relatively pleased with the performance of his players, he is still left wondering what might have been, had the Stones been handed a more favourable draw.

He said: “When the FA Cup draw comes out, the one thing you don’t want is the team top of the Conference and they (Dagenham and Redbridge) were the highest ranked team going into that draw.

“The last thing you need is to get them away from home as well, which is exactly what we got. It wasn’t ideal but I’ve got to say, I thought first half we were better than them.

“We came in at 1-1 and I felt we were well and truly in the game and we fancied our chances. We

conceded five minutes after half time and I think it did make a difference without Jonathan North in goal.

"Once they scored the second goal, their tails were up and I think it became a little bit psychological as well.”

He said: “We certainly didn’t do ourselves any harm at all. We matched them in most departments and only lost 3-1.

“But I still look at the FA Cup and think ‘what might have been’. You look at the next couple of weekends where lots of sides in and around our level will be playing against higher sides and you think ‘if only’.

"But it’s happened. Life goes on and we’ve got to concentrate on trying to build ourselves up and getting ourselves into a challenging position in the league now.”

In recent years, Wealdstone have struck up a good relationship with Premier League side Watford, taking several of their young-players on loan to give them some experience.

Young goalkeeper Andrew Thomas is the latest name to be added to that list and Bartlett has been impressed with what he has seen from the youngster so far.

“The idea of taking loan players is that it must work for all three parties. They (Watford) obviously rate him highly, but he’s still young and naïve and playing in the under 18’s and 23’s, you don’t get

put under that kind of pressure result wise that you do in first team games.

“So it’s good test for him and I thought against Gosport, he conducted himself very well indeed. He looked safe as houses, very confident and I was very pleased. Typically, in the first minute against Harefield United in the cup, he made a mistake and they scored. That is the nature of young players

I’m afraid. They’re going to make mistakes and that’s part of the experience of coming out and playing Non-League football as opposed to what they’ve been used to.

“I’ve known Andrew for a long time as he went to my school. So, I’ve known for him from a six-year-old and I’ve seen him develop.

"If he performs like he did on Saturday against Gosport, then that’s great. But it’s only a short-term thing as Jonathan North’s concussion is only a couple of weeks. It suited everybody, but he’ll be a decent ‘keeper in time to come.”

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