INTERVIEW: Woodley United FC manager Jon Laugharne speaks ahead of season opener

Jon Laugharne
Jon Laugharne

WOODLEY United FC manager Jon Laugharne is excited ahead of the new season as their campaign kicks off tonight with a cup fixture against Langley. 

“Our season starts with a cup fixture against Langley on Tuesday, we’re all looking forward to it,” said Woodley United manager Jon Laugharne. 

“Pre-season has been good and we played our final pre-season fixture on Saturday against Hartley Wintney Reserves.”

Woodley ended their pre-season with a 2-2 draw against Hartley Wintney Reserves as they twice came from behind to level the game. 

Goals from Laschok and Freddie Barron earned Woodley a draw in a tough test just three days prior to their season opener against Langley in the Hellenic Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup First Round.

“We’ve had a few new players join us over the summer, three or four news ones have been brought in which is good for the squad,” continued Laugharne.

“We’ve kept the majority of the squad from last season, only a couple of the lads from last season left the club so I think we’ll have a good squad for next season. 

Woodley then host Abingdon Town in their first Hellenic League Division One East fixture of the season on Saturday. 

Woodley celebrate
Woodley United travel away to Langley in the first-round of the Cup

United finished in 11th position in the 2018/19 season in a tricky season which saw them earn 20 points out of their 24 league fixtures. 

It is set to be another challenging season ahead for the teams competing in the division, with the league size being increased from 13 teams last season to 17 teams for the 2019/20 season. 

And it is a challenge that Laugharne is relishing with the 24 game season set to be extended to 32 games for the upcoming season. 

“The league season then starts on the weekend against Abingdon on August 10. There will be even more games this season with seventeen teams now in the league which is three more than last year, so I expect it to be highly competitive.

“The new teams coming in are going to be good and it will be a challenge and a lot of the teams already in the division have strengthened their squads.

“I try not to get too caught up in which teams have signed which players because at the end of the day it’s about what they can do on the pitch together as a team.

“We’ve added players this summer to deal with the extra games that will we have this season, so we’ve got a bigger group than last season so I think we should be alright for numbers and have a successful campaign.”

As of this season, the FA has announced that they will be bringing in a new ‘sin bin’ system which will be implemented up to Step 5 of the national league system Tier 3 and below in women’s football. Sin bins of 10 minutes will be issued by referees as a sanction for dissent in adult football, and will apply to all levels of grassroots football. 

“I think the sin bin system is ridiculous,” said Laughrane.

“The difficulty I have is how they interpret dissent and what happens if it is zero tolerant, how are the refs going to monitor the amount of times it’s implemented if there is dissent from several players of each team.

“I’m not sure how it will be organised, I’m hoping the officials aren’t going to treat it like a kid with a new toy, which you can often see in football, they might be too keen to use the new rule.

“It has been used in our pre-season games. In our game against Bagshot, they had a lad who was put in the sin bin. He was sin binned quite righty, but they also had other players that were doing just as much and they weren’t sin binned so you’re never sure when it’s going to be used.

“I haven’t needed to brief the players on it and have a big discussion. They are fully aware of how to behave and conduct themselves on the pitch. On our record last season we didn’t get that many cards so hopefully it is something that won’t affect our game too much.” 

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