Bexhill boss criticises fixture scheduling

Bexhill United manager Ryan Light criticised '˜very poor scheduling' after the football club was forced to play four times in eight days.

Bexhill United manager Ryan Light. Picture courtesy Mark Killy
Bexhill United manager Ryan Light. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

That hectic week was preceded by a four-week period in which Bexhill didn’t play at all after having three matches postponed.

Light said: “It’s been very poor scheduling I think. You’ve got to think of the health and safety of the players. Four games in seven days just shouldn’t happen at any level of football and the standard of football just goes out the window.”

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Bexhill lost the last three of those four games, the third of which was a 1-0 Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One Challenge Cup semi-final loss against Oakwood and the last a 5-1 league defeat away to Lingfield (for a report on that match click here).

“I actually felt sorry for them (the players) on Saturday,” continued Light. “We had a bit of a frank discussion about how we were giving the ball away, but it’s just been too much football. It was just a case of getting out there and fulfilling the fixture, almost writing it off.

“A few weeks ago when we were supposed to have played it (only for the match to be postponed) it would’ve been a humdinger of a game. But on Saturday one team couldn’t run, and the other team was fresh and on fire. The scheduling has really hurt us.”

The problem was largely caused by the semi-final being postponed on its original date of March 28 and with Oakwood already behind with their fixtures, there was little room to slot it in.

League chairman Steve Nealgrove said: “I’ve got no criticism of Ryan. I understand his frustration and he’s right to be frustrated. We sympathise with clubs and groundsmen as well.

“It is frustrating for the league as well because we’re having to cram in semi-finals. The fixture secretary has a very difficult job slotting matches in and we’re not the only league in the country to be suffering this.

“It’s about pitch availability as well (for semi-finals and finals at neutral grounds). We try to find a pitch that’s available approximately halfway between the two clubs. Also not all clubs want to hold semi-finals, especially as they themselves might be chasing a backlog of fixtures.”

Bexhill will be eager to hold on to their present position of fifth with positive results in their final three games of the season, all of which will take place over the next eight days.

The Pirates will travel to bottom club Southwick tomorrow (Saturday) and second-bottom Billingshurst on Tuesday night before finishing up at Ringmer next weekend.

“All we can is look forward to the next three games,” added Light. “With a little bit of rest this week, we’ll be going for three wins. The last thing we want to do is let a good season fizzle out and be a bit down at the end.

“I don’t think there’s any easy game in this division, especially when you go away from home. It’s about us now trying to believe in ourselves again after a really tough week, getting back to how we know we can play and getting back on the winning trail.”

Zack McEniry is away this weekend and Liam Foster is likely to be working tomorrow, but Light hopes everyone else will be okay.

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