Whyteleafe FC

Gaffer's Chat with Harry Hudson - 02/08/2019

With The Leafe, a good way through the pre-season ‘mini-season’ Steve Hole sits down with Whyteleafe boss, Harry Hudson to find out his views and how he thinks his new signings have gelled with the existing squad. It’s now an impressive six games unbeaten.

Harry, six games into the pre-season campaign give us a round-up of how you see things thus far?
I think it has been a largely pleasing pre-season so far. Really we have only disappointed against Molesey and the last 25 minutes against Merstham. The new additions have settled in well and the group is in a good place. 

Of the six matches – two draws; four wins – which one of those do you think was the most beneficial in terms of team development?
Probably the Maldon and Beckenham games for contrasting reasons. The Maldon game tested our defensive pressing structure while in the Beckenham game we had to face traditional non-league tests.  

Got to hand it to you and Calum. You’ve discovered more jewels to excite the Leafe faithful with. Are you happy with how the new players have come in and blended so well, so quickly with the established lads?
Yes certainly and the vibe among the group is very good at the moment. We have managed to secure the services of excellent players and, perhaps more importantly, outstanding people. 

It looks like there’s going to be real competition for a place in the starting eleven come August 17 and the start of the league season?
Yes but our squad is the biggest it will be all season right now. We will get down to around 16 players in the next two weeks and then supplement with our Academy boys to push the squad. 

We had a big win against BetVictor Premier side – and our local rivals, of course – Merstham, last Saturday. To coin a cliché, it was very much a game of two halves. We totally dominated the first period and then were hanging on a bit at the end of the game?
Yes we were very good in spells but let ourselves down towards the end of the game which was a shame. They are a new side who are still trying to find their identity I think but we looked ahead of them in my opinion - we should have finished the game off earlier on but in truth they deserved an equaliser at the end. 

We’ve got an even sterner test coming up this Saturday, at home another to another, BetVictor Premier side, Worthing FC. Are you looking forward to this one and will they present new challenges?
Yes they should be the hardest test of pre-season on paper. They will be trying to kick on next season I’m sure. 

Do you enjoy pitting your wits against opposition from higher leagues? It must present different challenges?
100% we have ambitions to be at that level so we only know how close we are when we get to play against higher ranked teams in friendlies and cup competitions.  

The Velocity Cup draw was announced this week. A new group format. We’ve been put in the same group as South Park, Chipstead, Chertsey Town and Tooting & Mitcham (again!). How do you see that? Only one team qualifies to face a BetVictor Prem team?
It will be an interesting format which obviously gives a lot of mid-week games which we didn’t have last year. Also great to face some local teams as we don’t really get that in our league. Obviously a big one against Chipstead!

Talking of cups and Tooting & Mitcham. We’ve got them in the FA Trophy?
Yeah another tough draw - I’m sure the Velocity cup game will be cat and mouse before the Trophy!

Meanwhile, the FA Cup draw has seen us matched with Cray Paper Mills. What do you know about the newcomers to our league this season?
We could have Chatham or Cray I believe as they face each other before us. Cray are a good side with some great people - we always enjoyed games against them when I managed Croydon. Although Chatham are a big club and tipped for promotion next season so either will be a tough game. 

Putting you on the spot slightly what players in particular have impressed you thus far?
Mannie Mensah has been awesome and so consistent with his performances. Bentley, Tyler, Cam and Corey give us the base to build on and the new additions of Clarky, Antonio and Ronald are thriving! 

Any further new signings on the horizon?
We are looking for a left back but apart from that we are more than happy. 

Finally, sorry to wheel out this hackneyed old question, but ... any injuries to report?
No thankfully - Junior is still recovering but making good progress. Can’t wait to have JR back on the pitch as he is one of the best at our level when fit. 

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