Burgess Hill Town boss Dean Cox on Isthmian play-offs, stability and clashes with Ashford and Chi City
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Cox has also given us his verdict on the players whose goals will be so vital to Hill this term – and revealed a major injury setback for the squad.
It’s been seven months since Cox took charge of Burgess Hill Town FC. After they narrowly avoided relegation last season under previous management, Cox has seen an overhaul of the squad, with the Hillians now sitting eighth in the Isthmian south east division, just three points off the play-offs.
Hill were defeated 1-0 to Ashford United last time out and Cox was disappointed with the performance saying: “I felt there was no cutting edge to be honest, our final ball our crossing, decision making certainly wasn’t where it should be. Unfortunately they got a goal which we maybe felt was offside but we didn’t react to it.
“We’ve been very good going forward and we had a few half chances but no real clear cut ones, which is certainly not like us, so that’s something we want to put right on Saturday.”
It’s seventh-place Chichester City next up for the Hillians in league action this Saturday. A Hill win would see them leapfrog the opposition and depending on results elsewhere potentially jump into the play-off spots at this still early stage..
Cox said of City: “They’re a very good side, they were second at one point and play some nice stuff, have got some good players and we’re aware of their threats out wide and up front. We’ll be coming up with a game plan – being at home we’ll be more aggressive on our press and taking the game to them.”
Speaking on the season so far, Cox said: “We’ve had a good start and I would like us to be a bit more consistent and challenge the players even further rather than just settling for where we are.
“I think we’ve done all right with 15 new players we’ve brought in and to gel them so quickly, get them into a formation and get them pressing the way we want them to press. I said it to the players after the game on Saturday, if you’d have said to me that we’d be sitting eighth in the league four places off the play-offs after nine games I would have snapped your hand off.
“I think to get in the play-offs that’s something in the back of my mind, but the main aim is to stabilise the football club, which I feel we’re doing at the moment.”
Hill striker Rob O’Toole has been prolific in front of goal this season so far, netting eight times in all competitions after joining from Whitehawk in the summer.
Cox said: “He’s been phenomenal, keeps himself fit every training session and he’s great in the dressing room. He can hold the ball up, he’s strong in the air and he’s a really good finisher so if we create chances for him he’ll certainly score goals. Eight in all competitions so far is a hell of a goal ratio if he keeps that up.”
Left back Martyn Box has also had a terrific start to the season and made his 100th club appearance two weeks ago. Cox has been impressed with his performances but revealed the left back had picked up a potential long-term injury. “He’s very important ;unfortunately he’s picked up a shoulder injury which could be a serious one – we’re not sure just yet.
“But since I’ve come in Boxy’s been terrific, he’s certainly the best left-back in the league by a country mile in my opinion and we will miss him, it could be a few weeks but until we get the diagnosis I won’t know and it’s something that we may look to bring someone in for.”
In other injury news forwards Reece Hallard and Kieron Pamment should be back in training next week. Hallard has been out with a glute injury, while Pamment has had a tight groin.
Cox didn’t give to much away on plans for new additions but did reveal a new signing could be announced this week: “We should have a goalkeeper coming in very soon, that should be this week, and we’re certainly in the market for a left-back with Martyn being out for so long.”
Cox spoke on the recent success of the Hill under-18s side, who he was due to watch in a home FA Youth Cup tie against League One side Stevenage on Tuesday night.
“To get a home tie against Stevenage is great for the football club – myself and the management team will be there, the boys will be there as well,” he said. "Gary Mansell’s done a fantastic job with the under eighteens and obviously the likes of Joe Overy, Harry Lawson Dylan Hurst – they’ve all trained with us quite regularly and we want to introduce them slowly to the first team.”
“I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to the progress of the 18s with one eye on getting them involved with us, it’s great for the club and all credit to the coaching team.”