‘We’ll be ready for Bitton’ says Tavistock boss ahead of huge clash Manager looks ahead to first v second clash in Premier Division
TAVISTOCK manager Stuart Henderson knows his table-topping side face arguably the toughest test of their season so far as second-placed Bitton arrive at Langsford Park on Saturday (3pm) in what is the match of the day in the Toolstation Western League Premier Division.
Henderson’s Lambs lead the way and are four points clear of The Ton, who have a game in hand, so a win today would put some welcome space between Tavi and the South Gloucestershire-based side.
It is the first time the two teams have met since August 2018 when an undercooked Lambs side were thumped 7-0 in an FA Cup tie at Bitton’s Midland Spinner Stadium.
“It’s going to be difficult, but we are ready for them” admitted Henderson. “Obviously we are the top two teams in the league at this moment in time and we are expecting a difficult game. But as I say to people, as much as we want to get a result, the most important things is for us not to lose.
“We haven’t played Bitton for a while, but we once played them in the FA Cup and lost 7-0! They wiped the floor with us and that was a bad day.
“It was an early round of the FA Cup, we were in a bus and literally arrived at their ground at ten to three, the referee refused to put the kick-off back, so we didn’t even have a warm-up and were well beaten.
“They are a club that have always been up there and have ambitions to get into the Southern league, just like we have. They are in a good catchment, they have a good side and have had some strong results, so we know it will be a tough game.
“Equally, we know that if we turn up and play the way we can, we are capable of beating anyone in the league.”
The Lambs are defending an 11-match unbeaten run, which started after a 3-2 defeat at home to Helston Athletic at the beginning of September. Back then, games were coming thick and fast with pretty much two a week, but that was, in fact, the last midweek game for Henderson’s side.
Since then, the Lambs have been able to settle into a one-game-per week pattern, while the opportunity for frequent training has also helped the team gel, especially with so many new faces arriving at Langsford Park.
Now, though, the manager would like the games to come thick and fast, especially as the team are performing so well.
“I prefer to play two games a week if I am honest,” the manager said. “Everyone likes a matchday and don’t get me wrong, training sessions are good and we had a good, sharp session on Tuesday.
“We had 16 at training and four players weren’t there for whatever reason, so it is great having the numbers and I can go off and work with the strikers, or so bits and bobs and we can do some good fitness work.
“The training is good and we get a lot out of it, but I do enjoy playing under the lights, there’s a good feeling to it.
”At the start of the season, when it was two games a week, it was really stretching us as a squad, especially with the injuries we had at the start of the season, but now, I am missing it a little bit, if I am honest.”
Bitton arrive in Devon having won their last two games, against Ashton & Backwell and Bridport; a good response to a 4-0 home thrashing by Mousehole in mid-November.
Asked about the weekend’s opponent’s, Henderson said: “We’ve had a couple of scout reports and videos of them, but we have done it before where you focus too much on the team you are playing that it takes away from your own performance. I try not to get to drawn into all of that.
“We train, we are fit and we play in a certain way and feel that if we play the way we are capable of, then we can beat anyone at our level.”
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