JON LAUGHARNE is targeting a strong finish to the season with Woodley United ahead of what he believes will be a more fruitful campaign next year.
The Kestrels fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at rivals Wokingham and Emmbrook on Saturday to stay 11th in the 13-team Hellenic Division One East table with just six games left to play.
Laugharne’s first season in charge has been up and down with a new-look Woodley losing their first 10 matches before picking up form towards the back end of 2018.
However, United have now won just one of their past seven league matches since Christmas, but do have a Hellenic League Supplementary Cup quarter-final to look forward to against lower league Stokenchurch.
“We always said that if you can stay in the cups as long as possible, it keeps your season alive,” Laugharne told The Wokingham Paper.
“It’s something to play for and that’s what we’re striving for.
“We’ve got some tough league games ahead. We’ve still got to play Holyport twice, Didcot Development twice, Thame Rangers, who are up there, and Chalvey on Saturday.
“They’re going to be tough games and Stokenchurch will be a tough game.
“But if we can get the right players out on the pitch and have a clean bill of health and get some of these injuries back then they’ll be tough games as well for the teams we’re playing.”
He added: “The start of the season was difficult, make no bones about that. But we kept going.
“We’d like to be higher in the league, of course we would. We’ve been a bit unfortunate in certain games, but that’s the way it goes. We’ve still got games in hand.
“At the start of the year we lost our first five and were four points adrift at the bottom at one stage, but we’ve turned it around.
“What has not helped is we’ve had a lot of cup games, which has disrupted the league consistency.
“I’d like to think we should be doing a lot better next season.
“It was a difficult situation to get into, having to basically start afresh.
“But fair play to all the players. Nobody’s chucked the towel in, nobody’s thrown their toys out the pram and got disillusioned or fed up with it or anything, they’re just fighting to finish as best as we can finish and you never know in the cups.
“We’re in the quarter-finals, if we get through that it wouldn’t be a bad finish to the season.”
Saturday’s clash against the Sumas was effectively over by half-time.
Goals from Josh Harris and Ellis Day put the hosts 2-0 up at Larges Lane while Laugharne’s men were also down to 10 men due to a red card for Pablo Fernandez.
Harris made it 3-0 after the restart and while Leon Mannion pulled a goal back, the game was long gone.
“We started off alright for the first 10 minutes or so,” said Laugharne.
“They exploited a couple of weaknesses and took advantage of that. Going down to 10 men after 25 minutes makes the task a lot harder, but we did alright with 10 to be fair.
“It (the red card) was off the ball. Pablo was wound up and pretty naive I think. It’s one of those things.
“He’ll learn from that and we’ll move on. It was a red card.”
Focus now moves onto Saturday’s clash against mid-table Chalvey Sports at Rivermoor (3pm), a side Woodley have already beaten twice this season.
“It will be tough,” said Laugharne.
“They’re a good team. They’re hard to beat. If they do lose, they only lose by the odd goal, they don’t get whacked.
“They’ve got some good players. I’ve always been quite impressed with Chalvey when we’ve played them.
“It will be a hard one, but as will Didcot and Holyport and everyone else. There’s no gimmes really.”