Alton getting to grips with life in the Combined Counties League

By Colin Channon   |   Editorial manager   |
Friday 14th October 2022 4:00 pm
@colinchannon
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Alton manager Kev Adair
Alton manager Kev Adair (Tindle )

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Alton believe they are finally getting to grips with life in the Combined Counties League after their forced summer switch from the Wessex League.

The Brewers had a tough start to their Premier South Division campaign – but in recent weeks have recorded two wins and a draw.

Manager Kev Adair was delighted with their latest outing, a 3-0 win over Frimley Green at Anstey Park on Saturday.

A healthy crowd of almost 200 witnessed the victory and Adair said: “I think we have finally turned a corner and things are starting to come together for us.

“I was always confident we would turn a corner, it was a matter of when.

“Things have been better over the past couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, we’re by no means the finished article, and there will be some bumps along the way, but we are in a much healthier position than we were six weeks ago.

“We have brought in a couple of new players, which has made a difference and added some competition. Some of the squad were not available as often as we would have liked, and we have now got most of them back.

“The squad is bigger and everyone is fit now – we haven’t changed the way we do things, as we have a system we believe in and stick to it, although we will always tweak things when we feel it’s necessary.

“We have also had the chance to watch teams, so our knowledge of the league is getting better each week.

“Colliers Wood on Saturday will be a tough game as they have been going well, but I believe when our lads are performing, we can compete with anyone. It’s now down to me – it’s my job to fine tune things to get the best out of them each week.

“When you’re ambitious you want to finish as high up the league as you can, but we had a reality check when we joined the Combined Counties. I didn’t think the switch from the Wessex League would make as much of a difference to us as it did.

“We have had to learn quickly slightly different ways of playing and I’ve never had to deal with so much interest in our players from other clubs.

“In the Wessex, no-one paid any attention to us. The only local team to us was Alresford and they had their catchment area for players and we had ours. We didn’t have to fight for the local lads who wanted to play at that level.

“We do now – and some teams have bigger budgets and have more clout.

“We are forming relationships with players and managers now too – for instance, one of the players we have is technically on loan from another side.

“Teams in the Combined Counties are a bit more streetwise and we had to learn that, but we have come up against clubs who are near the bottom of the table who I have felt have been pretty competitive.

“We have played only two teams near the top of the table – Redhill and Badshot Lea – and they were good but I felt we were poor on those days, so I didn’t get to gauge properly where we are at.

“If we finish mid-table this season it could be seen as a success, I suppose, but with the players I have, and the desire they have, it’s not something we would set as a target.

“We’re out to do the best we can and we’ll see where that takes us.”

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