JON LAUGHARNE says he has taken his Finchampstead side “back to basics” as they continue their resurgence in Hellenic Division One East.
A difficult spell earlier in the season saw Finches lose seven of their first 11 fixtures and also exit the Berks and Bucks Intermediate Cup with a heavy defeat to Woodley United.
But since the end of November, Laugharne’s charges have won seven of their next nine to storm up to fourth in the standings and also book a spot in the quarter-finals of the Reading Senior Cup.
The last six of those victories, including Saturday’s 1-0 success against Bicester Town, has seen Finchampstead win by a one-goal margin on each occasion and Laugharne says it is down to making his side difficult to play against.
“One goal is enough,” the Finches boss told The Wokingham Paper.
“You obviously want to win by more goals, but it’s just trying to get back to basics and being hard to beat and go from there.
“I’d like to stay around fourth. The other teams have all got games in hand but they’ve all got to play each other as well.”
He continued: “I think if everybody won all their games, if you did it like that, then we’d probably be in the bottom three but they are all playing each other.
“It’s a difficult league and everyone is taking points off each other. It’s quite competitive and it’s about availability.
“A lot of teams, us as well, can’t put out a consistent team every week, which I think a lot of teams struggle with.
“It’s the nature of the beast unfortunately.”
That beast has been no more evident for Finchampstead than in the past two weeks.
Last weekend Laugharne was forced to turn to centre-back Sam Green to play in goal against Marlow United in the cup, while this Saturday he only had 11 players available to him for the Bicester league game.
But while he admits it makes life more difficult, the manager insists there is no immediate cause for concern.
“It’s a test of character,” said Laugharne.
“We’ve had a couple of injuries and people called into work last minute but we’ve always been able to put 11 out.
“It’s when you can’t put out 11 we’ll start to panic, but we’re getting players back now so we should be alright for the remaining part of the season.”
He added: “It was a bit nervy having Sam in goal because they’re decent, that Marlow team.
“They are good and they are top of the Reading Senior League, which I think is a good league.
“We asked him to do a job for us and he’s quite capable. He did well in there and we defended well with good discipline so we played alright.”
Focus now turns to this weekend’s big local clash with Wokingham and Emmbrook.
The pair last met on Boxing Day with Finchampstead running out 2-1 winners and remarkably Sumas have played just one game since, on New Year’s Eve, due to a string of postponed matches.
That has seen Clive McNelly’s men slip to third from bottom in the table, but Laugharne is keen to keep the focus on his own side.
“That was a good win against them on Boxing Day,” he said.
“They haven’t played for a while but have made a few signings and I think they’ve got a few more in the pipeline to sign on as well.
“They’ve signed a lot of players that won them the league a couple of years ago, so they’ll be expecting to shoot up the league in the next few weeks no doubt.
“We’ll just concentrate on ourselves. It’s a local derby.
“They’ll be strong and it’ll be a tough game, but we’ll just concentrate on what we’re doing and if we can get our group out we’re a match for anyone on our day.
“It’s just making sure we’re ready for that and we’ll look forward to it.”