Troubled Athletic facing ‘15 cup finals’ to stay up

Anguish: Athletic have lost nine straight league defeats since August
Anguish: Athletic have lost nine straight league defeats since August

Manager Mark Forster insists every match is now a “cup final” to ensure his Wetherby Athletic side remain in West Yorkshire Premier next season.

Toiling Athletic remain rooted in the drop zone after picking up just 10 points half-way through the 30-match season.

The club also have problems with their playing surface after Saturday’s home clash against East End Park was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Forster’s men head to tenth-placed Horbury Town this Saturday on the back of nine straight league defeats.

And the gaffer said that run had to end in their next two clashes, with bottom side Kippax also awaiting on January 25.

He said: “All our matches are critical. We have 15 cup finals coming up.

“The first team need to stay in this division.

“We certainly have the quality in individuals, we just need to find some results.

“I can’t fault the effort, the endeavour or the enthusiasm of the players but we just need some results to stay in this division.

“I don’t think you will need more than 25 points to stay in this league. That’s five wins.

“The West Yorkshire Premier needs Wetherby in it because we are trying to play good football.”

The Tangerines last tasted league victory on August 31 when they beat Hunslet Club 4-1.

Forster promised to stick with his plan to produce attractive football. But he knows results mean a lot more than style to supporters.

“There are a lot of great people at the club. I do feel I have let them do so far because we haven’t got the results,” he added

“The lads know they are under pressure and they know need to roll their sleeves up to get points.”

High-flying East End Park were due to travel to the Ings on Saturday but the pitch failed a morning inspection.

But with their next home game not till February, the Athletic chief hopes the surface will have time to recover.

“The pitch is worse than I have ever seen it at this time of year,” said Forster.

“It just was squelching.

“We shouldn’t have played on it the week before against Brighouse (when Athletic lost 2-1) as players could stop themselves when running.”

Athletic have been buoyed by the return of experienced goalkeeper James Senior ahead of Saturday’s trip to Horbury.

Senior injured his shoulder last season after making 14 league appearances and has yet to feature this season.

“It’s a massive boost, we have been desperate for a keeper,” said Forster.

“He’s a terrific goalkeeper and a leader. At 28 years old, he’s another older voice in the changing room.”

Sam Kellagher has also returned to training after a four-month spell on the sidelines with a broken foot and could make the squad against Horbury.

Forster added: “I am not looking forward to that game.

“Their pitch is on a massive slope and in dreadful condition. Once again, it’ll be boxing gloves and that doesn’t suit us.”

Meantime, relegation-threatened Sherburn White Rose’s Division One clash at Pool was called off (waterlogged pitch) on Saturday. Sherburn travel to Carlton Athletic this Saturday.