Player safety the priority - Castle

Saints boss has no qualms with Hampton postponement

ST ALBANS City boss Steve Castle said his players’ safety was the main concern after seeing Tuesday’s game at Hampton & Richmond Borough called off late in the day.

Having initially been told the game would go ahead following a 10am pitch inspection the team arrived to find the match referee unhappy with the playing surface and the game was eventually called off a little over an hour before the scheduled 1pm kick off.

“It’s quite a mixed bag,” Saints’ boss Castle said afterwards.

“There’s an area that’s perfect, an area that is very soft and there are several areas that are quite firm.

“The referee has had a hard choice, we’re all over here which makes it twice as hard for him but we’re in a safety conscious world and both managers agreed that it is the players’ safety that is paramount. I haven’t got any qualms with that decision.”

Both teams trained on sections of the pitch following the postponement and Castle thought that the playing surface had improved in that time.

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When asked whether he thought a 3pm kick off may have improved the chances of the game being on he said: “I think it probably would.

“Both teams have trained on it and it has got softer in those areas but we’re training on those soft areas.

“Through the middle where there is ice and there is still ice, if that ice gets compacted there was no choice of footwear really. You literally went from soft to hard to perfect.”

The Saints have been busy using a variety of facilities in a bid to continue with training during the recent bad weather.

With snow still on the pitch at Clarence Park, the club has used a number of indoor facilities but Castle work with the ball has been the most difficult part.

“We’ve been here there and everywhere,” the City boss said.

“We’ve been over at Birchwood Leisure Centre indoor facility, we’ve been at Sopwell House, we’ve been up at the ground (Clarence Park).

“What we have got is a fit bunch of lads who have looked after themselves.

“The main problem is putting the ball at their feet and keeping up that match fitness but bar a few teams we’re all in the same boat and if everybody’s in that boat there’s no advantage either way.”

City are due to face local rivals Boreham Wood on New Year’s Day with kick off at Meadow Park at midday.

Castle is hoping that his side can get off to the best possible start to the New Year with victory over their fellow relegation rivals.

“It’s a New Year, a new attitude, hopefully some good performance and results,” explained Castle.

“The rest has in some ways, hopefully, revitalised everybody and rejuvenated people.

“The lads are so disappointed in not getting the game on but hopefully they’ll take that frustration out on Boreham Wood on New Year’s Day.”

The Saints boss will have to do without Adam Everitt who is still waiting to complete his suspension but hopes a few of his new recruits will finally get some action.

“Adam Everitt, has got the longest suspension in the world, and that carries on again,” joked Castle.

“Ollie Palmer (pictured left) we’ve got in for another month and Chris Benjamin who Leyton Orient have been great to let us have and another lad in Joe Newell who has big things expected of him at Peterborough.

“There’s a little bit of illness around in Dave Hutton and Nick Chrysanthou so we’re just trying to bolster the squad.”