WOKINGHAM & Emmbrook manager Dan Bateman praised his sides defensive resilience with their much improved record helping them climb the Hellenic Division One East table.
“The defence was one of the things we really needed to address from last year,” said Bateman.
“We scored plenty of goals but conceded too many, we were averaging conceding something near to two goals a game last season, but this year it’s less than a goal a game so we’re keeping clean sheets.
“Like the last game against Abingdon, we didn’t play well at all but we kept a clean sheet and if you do that then you’re guaranteed a point. So it was important to address the issues we had and its given us a platform to build on.
“If you can grind out results when you’re not playing well, that’s a great habit to have.”
The Sumas continued their impressive league form with a 4-0 win over Abingdon Town on the weekend, despite Bateman’s side being plagued by injury problems.
“We were really pleased with the performance against Abingdon Town especially considering the availability issue and the growing injury list we’ve got at the moment,” said Bateman.
“We had nine first team players unavailable, and had four reserve players in the squad and every single one of them stepped up and performed which is a great sign for the club.
“If you can go to the reserves and pick up four players that can add to the first team, that really helps so we’re delighted with the win and to be honest, we probably should have scored more but we weren’t quite clinical enough, but a clean sheet is always pleasing.”
Wokingham & Emmbrook, who are currently 5th in the Hellenic League Division One East, have plenty of games in hand on their rivals above them after their scheduled Tuesday evening fixture against Didcot Town Development was postponed.
“It was annoying to have the game postponed, we were in the changing room and ready to go, it’s always disappointing when a game gets called off that late but I understand it’s not Didcot’s fault,” continued Bateman.
“At four o’clock the pitch was fine and by six it wasn’t, so it’s one of those things you can’t do anything about.”
The Sumas return to league action this weekend with an away visit to second placed Abingdon United.
“They are flying at the moment (Abingdon United). We played that a month ago at our place and that was one of our worst performances of the season.
“We drew 0-0 and we were delighted with that because on the night they were much better than us and we needed woody to save a penalty to get us a point. We’re keen to put that right and show that we are a much better side than we showed. We know it’ll be tough but we want to go over and get a positive result to keep moving up the league.
“We’ve been strong on the road and the results have tended to be better than they have at home. We set up the same whether we’re home or away and try to win every game. In all competitions, we’ve won nine out of 10 away from home which is a great record.
Bateman lauded the ability of the young players who have stepped into the first team from the reserves following the Sumas injury situation, but admits it will be tricky to pick a squad of 16 when first team players are available for selection again.
“We’ve used six or seven from the reserves this season and everyone has stepped up and been first class which is a brilliant sign for the club and really helpful to me that I can rely on these lads to come in and bring quality to us.
“We’ve got a first team squad of 19 but I’ve got five or six out injured. It’s going to cause massive headaches when everyone is fit how I’m going to get that squad of 19 into 16 but ultimately if were going to compete at the top end of the league where we want to be, we have to make sure if we’ve got players injured that we have players of quality to step in.
“We see ourselves of being at the top end of the table. We’ve got five games in hand on some teams and come the end of the season other teams will be playing one game a week, while we will have two or three games a week which makes it really difficult.
“We keep doing well in cup competitions as well so we’ll constantly be playing catch up but ultimately that’s why we have a big squad.”