“I really hope we can retain the manager and the bulk of the squad”
The opposition interview series continues, with Mark Rees discussing his team Chorley FC
Hi Mark thanks for talking to us. It’s been a very tough season for Chorley FC, how would you summarise it?
Started off slowly and didn’t speed up barring a brief blooming of form in November. We have been about 10% worse than I expected. Most of the games have been very close; indeed we have only actually lost two more games than Torquay but 14 draws – the most in the division – explain why we are where we are
How’s your recent form been heading into Saturday’s match?
Pretty terrible on paper – we have taken a point from four games this month. And to be honest it’s not been much better on grass. The 1-1 draw at Yeovil was an excellent performance where we looked like winning, the others less so.
What’s been the main lessons you’ll take from this season in the NL do you think?
I think we now have a much better idea of the gap between the National League divisions. The time and money spent travelling has been a real eye-opener. Also playing against full-time teams every week is very tough. The mid-week games in particular are a killer. Most of our heavy defeats have come in mid-week.
What’s been the highlights in a difficult season for the club?
Honestly, the home win over Torquay was a great occasion. My daughter was the mascot and my friend Phil from Brixham’s son led Torquay out. It was great to get a home win and a clean sheet, and if you squinted a bit it was looking like we might put together a run of form to take us out of the relegation zone then….
Who are Chorley’s key players and why?
Our goalkeeper Matt Urwin, who we signed from Fleetwood Town, has been very busy this season and has been consistently excellent. Remarkably, we have kept ten clean sheets, for which he must take a lot of credit, but unfortunately none since November. Elsewhere, Courtney Meppen-Walter is an excellent footballer at centre half.
If relegation becomes a reality, how will the club look to rebuild for the NLN and will there be big changes?
I really hope we can retain the manager and the bulk of the squad – it’s substantially the one which got us promoted and should easily be good enough to steady the ship next season in National League North. Everyone’s disappointed with how the season has unfolded, but I feel you can’t be too critical of the team and manager, given what we’re up against each week.
Will many Chorley supporters make the trip down to the Westcountry?
Well, it’s a new ground for us, but then again all of them bar a handful are new grounds for Magpies fans. It’s been a tough month for travelling, with Yeovil and Ebbsfleet our previous trips, but I think a few people are flying down from Manchester and I’m certainly coming.
Which opposition teams/players have impressed you most and why?
I thought Almeida Santos, the Barnet centre back, was excellent against us last week. He didn’t put a foot wrong all game.
And finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday’s match?
It’s hard to see anything other than a narrow defeat for Chorley, but I’m hoping for a draw.
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