Hill battles the boredom factor

Richard Hill

Richard Hill

First published in Sport Hampshire Chronicle: Photograph of the Author by , Non-league football reporter

EASTLEIGH boss Richard Hill says he has “18 bored players” on his hands wondering just when this freakishly wet winter will take a turn for the better.

Although Hill, pictured below, has been reasonably relaxed about the weather-hit season so far, the frustration is starting to build for his promotion-hungry squad who have played just three league games since the turn of the year.

“It’s like being back in pre-season, but at least we had friendlies then,” he said.

“I tried to organise another practice match against Crawley Town on Tuesday and spoke to (manager) John Gregory about it, but we couldn’t find a pitch anywhere.

“We’re trying our hardest to keep everyone happy and keep things ticking over, but it’s very difficult. The players are bored.

“But at least, unlike some clubs, we have been able to train.”

With more rain expected in Kent today, tomorrow’s trip to third-to-bottom Tonbridge Angels must be seriously under threat.

The only saving grace for Eastleigh is that the 11-point deficit on leaders Bromley hasn’t got any wider while rain has continually sabotaged the Spitfires’ chances of playing their three games in hand.

Bromley had been due to host Eastbourne Borough on Tuesday, only for the pitch to be declared unfit at 7pm. Hill, who made the trip to Kent, said: “At least Bromley are now getting their games called off too. Imagine if they’d played another three and got seven points from them. We’d now be looking at an 18-point deficit with six games in hand. It could get to the stage where you miss out on promotion through no fault of your own.

“We’ve got a problem now trying to rearrange the Maidenhead game. Our only free date is April 23, the Wednesday before the last game of the season, but Maidenhead are not prepared to play it then and don’t have another spare date.”

Jokingly, he added: “I’ve suggested we play them on April 15, kicking off at 10 o’clock at night after we play Dover. If we could just have a 20-minute rest, we’ll play them too!”

In the unlikely event tomorrow’s game goes ahead, Hill has a full-strength squad available to try and avenge the shock 2-1 home defeat inflicted by ten-man Tonbridge at the Silverlake in November.

His attacking options have been boosted by Craig McAllister’s return from injury and the arrival of loan striker Ben Wright from Salisbury City.

With second-choice goalkeeper Jack Dovey departing for Australia, Hill won’t necessarily replace him.

He said: “It’s not Jack’s fault, but we’ve been paying a lot of money for a No2 ’keeper – more than some clubs pay for a No1 – and people forget that, as well as being manager, I have to be an accountant too.

“We’ve got a couple of young lads who can step in, but I’m not too fazed about it. Before clubs were allowed to name five subs, we only had three, and we never had a ’keeper on the bench in those days.

“It’s pretty evident Ross (Flitney) is our number one and, touch wood, he’s fit and healthy.

“Until that situation changes I’m quite easy-going.”

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