GARY FREEMAN is happy that the club made the decision to pull out of the CCL Premier Challenge Cup, given that half of this season’s 38 league fixtures are to be played over the next three months.
Out of the remaining 19 Combined Counties Premier South fixtures, eight are due to be played away from home over the next ten weeks, in midweek.
With league cup matches also scheduled to take place away, the finances of the club are not the only things under strain.
Freeman is already bracing himself for the demands of the rest of the season, with Bulls also chasing FA Vase glory alongside their promotion hopes.
‘We’ve already got a huge fixture congestion,’ said first-team manager Freeman. ‘And it just means more time off work for the lads.
‘It’s going to stretch us and we will be tested, but that is what we have signed up for.
Next up is a home game against Camberley Town [2pm tomorrow] – a team who have yet to win a single point on the road from nine games.
‘We’re taking nothing for granted. We’ve got a job to do,’ added Freeman.
Their closest challengers for promotion, Badshot Lea and Raynes Park Vale, are just edging Bulls in terms of points per game and are showing no signs of letting up. Freeman acknowledges that they must maintain a winning run to keep up with the pace.
‘We know we are going to have to win the majority of the games to keep up with them. We set ourselves a target to get past the 90-point mark for the season. The teams that went up last year [Beckenham Town and Walton & Hersham] went up with 92 and 91.’
With Fraser Barlow out with a long-term injury, Ruben Mendes out for the season and requiring an operation and both Jonny Le Quesne and Jake Prince carrying knocks that have ruled them out tomorrow, the depth of quality in Freeman’s squad is already being tested. But the addition of the experienced Luke Watson has helped alleviate some of that pressure and the manager believes he has already improved how the team play.
‘Luke coming in has really motivated the team to keep winning games,’ he said. ‘We’re really pleased with how quickly he has settled in.
‘Lorne [Bickley], in particular, is really enjoying playing with him because he likes to get the ball forward quickly.
‘He’s very fit and at 36 he looks after himself. It’s been a big bonus.’