First Qualifying Round: Heybridge Swifts 1 Uxbridge 1
BULLISH Tony Choules was hoping Saturday's cup performance at Heybridge Swifts is a sign of better things to come in the league after Uxbridge held their Premier Division opponents to a 1-1 draw.
The Reds were last night (Tuesday) attempting to complete their passage into the second qualifying round by wrapping up a victory that the manager felt they could and perhaps should have recorded at the first attempt, with the winners earning a trip to Wroxham on September 27.
Coming on the back of improved displays against Redbridge and Bridgwater, Choules is convinced a first league win is just around the corner and hopefully that will come at home to Thatcham Town on Saturday.
"I would like it happen sooner rather than later and I'm hoping a convincing win tomorrow night can kickstart our league campaign," said Choules on Monday. "We felt we conceded a soft goal and apart from that goal I thought we were absolutely awesome.
"We're getting there now."
Coach Gary Farrell resigned in the wake of the AFC Hayes defeat because he did not believe the squad was good enough and since then, with Paul Mills having been promoted from the reserves, Uxbridge have shown signs of improvement. Saturday was no exception as Chris Fermie put an early header just over from a Mark Nicholls corner although they wererocked after 19 minutes when Nathan Clarke smashed a brilliant 30-yarder into the top corner.
"Although it looked spectacular we felt we could have done better in the build up," commented Choules. "Two players went to the ball and the pass took both of them out of the game."
Nicholls whistled a free kick just wide before the introduction of Lee Tunnell at half-time gave Uxbridge fresh impetus.
He put a difficult chance over the bar from an Ian Dickens cross and while Robbie King almost doubled the lead that was a rare Heybridge attack.
Mark Dennison gave keeper Ollie Morris-Sanders some fielding practice but the pressure finally told in the 77th minute when Luke Fisher was penalised for an ill-advised challenge on Kevin Warner. Nicholls levelled from the spot.
Uxbridge were aiming to complete the job last night (Tuesday) but they will have to do it without Charlie Hill, who looks set to end his third spell at Honeycroft by moving to AFC Hayes, after he was the subject of a seven-day approach.
Choules has already moved to replace the striker by bringing former Arsenal and Reading academy player Adam Bernard from Leatherhead, who netted for the reserves on Saturday in a 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon. The pacy 19-year-old is cup-tied for the FA Cup but he will be in the first team squad for Saturday's visit of Thatcham Town.