City to face seven cup finals says boss Howell

ST ALBANS City boss David Howell believes his team will face ‘seven cup finals’ as they look to break into the Southern Premier Division’s end of season play-offs.

The Saints have 13 games left and currently sit five points adrift of the final play-off place but with fixtures against seven of the eight teams above them Howell believes his team can have a say in their own destiny starting this weekend, weather permitting, against Stourbridge.

“If you look at the remaining fixtures we have to play all the teams above us bar Cambridge City,” Howell told the Herts Advertiser.

“People can talk all they like about points tallies but all I know is we have seven cup finals that will shape our season and we’ve also got to make sure we do our job against the other teams in the league.”

It was another frustrating weekend without football for the Saints and their supporters as their clash at AFC Totton failed to pass a 10am pitch inspection on Saturday morning. It now means Howell and his players will have to make the long journey to Hampshire on a Tuesday evening with the City boss expecting the fixture to come on the back of two other away games.

“It is frustrating because when you are winning you want to keep it going,” explained Howell, pictured.

“When we went to Redditch the first time and it was called off we had a hiccup the next game when we lost to Bedford. It was important we bounced back at Redditch because with the way the league is drawing is like losing a game.

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“It now looks like it [the Totton fixture] is going to come on the back of three away games. It looks like we’ll be going to Arlesey, Frome and then Totton.”

Despite the lack of match action it has still been a busy week at Clarence Park with two players leaving and two players joining the ranks.

Out have gone defender Tobi Jinadu and the versatile Barrie Matthews to Tooting & Mitcham and Hemel Hempstead Town respectively while heading into Clarence Park are French defender Moussa Diarra and former Tottenham Hotspur youngster Anton Blackwood.

“Moussa is a left-sided centre half and you don’t get too many of those to the pound,” said Howell of his new recruit.

“He has been training with us for about six weeks now and he has played a couple of reserve games. He’s a bit gangly but he is strong and he has got a bit of pace and with the situation with Tobi (Jinadu) I felt it was best to develop a talent already at the club.”

The City boss added: “Anton has been training with us off and on because he has had trouble with his hamstring. He now needs to maintain his fitness. It is only the injury that has slowed him down or taken him off track (at Tottenham).”

Regarding the pair leaving the club Howell acknowledged that they wanted to be playing first team football regularly and he wasn’t able to provide them with what they wanted.

“I’ve got to have a squad in which everyone is happy, I can’t let any negativity creep in,” he explained.

“Barrie when he first joined us played at left-back and he’s gone on to play in midfield at right-back and left midfield. But with the arrival of Narada Bernard, Chris Seeby and Micah Hyde he has realised there is no place in the team for him. He’s only going to provide cover. It is the same with Tobi. Tobi and Ryan Moran started off as the first choice centre-half pairing but things have changed and unlike Barrie, Tobi was only going to get on if one of the centre-halves is injured.

“These players want to play at the highest level possible and they want to play every Saturday and I understand that. I’m grateful for their contribution and wish them all the best for the future.”