Saints are handily placed

08/02 Updated: 16/02 09:07

SOUTHAM United’s match at Premier Division leaders Bolehall Swifts fell victim to the inclement weather that decimated the entire Athium Midland Combination programme on Saturday .

Despite having to sit out the afternoon, manager Luke Fogarty was still in contented mood, reflecting on a season that, so far, has exceeded expectations.

Having taken over the reins at Banbury Road at the beginning of last season, Fogarty re-built the team with mainly young, local players.

Winning the Coventry Telegraph Challenge Cup gave Fogarty hope that, with a year’s experience behind them, the team could make an impact in the league this time.

“We finished last season well and carried that momentum into the new one” said Fogarty. “Although we wanted to do well in the cups, we set our stall out to challenge in the league and thought we had a good enough squad to make the top six.”

Saints currently lie in second place, just one point behind the long-time leaders, with three games in hand.

The Saints boss is not taking anything for granted, but feels that he has the squad to make a real challenge for the title and gain promotion for the club after 31 years in the league.

He has used 30 players so far this season, but the nucleus of the side has remained constant throughout.

“We lost Josh Cole early on to Banbury United and then four more through long-term injury” explains Fogarty. “We’ve also had players in and out of the side with niggling problems, as well as some who weren’t able to command a regular place and moved to other clubs.”

Amongst those struggling for fitness is goalkeeper Jim Stott, who was voted joint winner of the division’s player-of-the-season award in 2010/11.

Injury has restricted him to just 14 appearances and he pulled a hamstring in the warm-up at Racing Club Warwick.

Fortunately for Saints, they have been able to call on 21-year-old Matt Oliver, who was signed from Bromyard on the recommendation of experienced defender Quentin Townsend, and has put in some impressive performances.

Also missing is captain John Blunsom, who has not played since the 2-1 home defeat to Earlswood Town on December 3 and is still a couple weeks off regaining fitness.

Weather permitting,Saints entertain Pilkington XXX at Banbury Road this Saturday (3pm).

Meanwhile, Racing Club Warwick’s clash at Walsall Wood was postponed due to a frozen pitch and it was a similar tale for their scheduled trip to Castle Vale on Tuesday.

Racing visit Division One outfit Stretton Eagles for a Les James Challenge Cup round four tie this Saturday (2pm).

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