Haringey Borough boss targets a play-off spot and a money-spinning FA Cup run
Haringey Borough manager Tom Loizou has set his sights on a place in the Ryman League Division One North play-offs this season as well as a money-spinning FA Cup campaign, which starts on Saturday.
However, he is already having to contend with a lengthy injury list – and he fears Anthony McDonald might have suffered knee ligament damage in a bruising encounter with AFC Hornchurch on Tuesday night.
Haringey were missing 12 players for their opener against Dereham Town on Saturday, but they kicked off with a convincing 3-0 home win, with Christopher Benjamin scoring twice and McDonald also finding the net.
Benjamin also struck twice on Tuesday night but Borough lost 3-2 away against Hornchurch.
Despite that disappointment and his long list of absentees, Loizou is positive about the season ahead and can already see obvious improvements from the same stage last term, when Borough had just been promoted from the Essex Senior League.
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“We were in control from start to finish on Saturday – if it weren’t for their goalkeeper I think we would have had six or seven,” said Loizou.
“It was similar to our first game of last season, which was also at home against Dereham. We dominated, we had all the chances, but last season we drew 0-0.
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“That was the difference this time. I’ve got a couple of forwards in and I’m still awaiting clearance for another forward now.
“Last season, because we got promoted that year, we gave everyone a chance up until Christmas and we struggled, so we had a clear-out. It was quite evident the players weren’t up to it, or couldn’t commit.
“We ended up finishing just below mid-table last year, and I’ve strengthened the squad. If we’d had a first half of the season like the second half we would have been in the play-offs, so in and around the play-offs and a good FA Cup run, I think that’s a successful year.”
Haringey’s list of absentees grew on Tuesday against Hornchurch as midfielders McDonald and Rory Kay were injured, and Loizou was unimpressed with some of the challenges that went unpunished.
“I don’t think we got the protection that we should have had from the referee,” said the Borough boss. “I had to have a word with him at half-time.
“As soon as we kicked off one of their players went through the back of one of our players, and it happened two or three times, with the referee not even having a word or brandishing a yellow card.
“That gave them a licence to keep doing it and eventually 15 minutes before half-time, someone came through the back of Anthony McDonald and we’re fearing the worst – maybe knee ligaments.
“The protection we got was pretty disgraceful really. I think the referee got bullied by them. We were the better footballing side. I think the only thing that let us down was that I had a weaker bench, because of those injuries.
“This year I’ve signed on 28 players and I was down to my last 16 on Tuesday. Then I’ve got another two injuries, so that leaves me without 14 people. “Everyone said ‘you’ve signed on too many players, you’re going to have a headache’ and I said ‘it’s a headache I’d love to have’ – but it’s turned the other way now.”
Loizou hopes his injury issues will not to be too costly – both on the pitch and financially – as Haringey prepare to host Essex Senior League outfit Barkingside in the preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
“We’ve already played them in pre-season this year and we beat them 2-1, but they’re a totally different outfit from the first game and we’ve got a lot of players out,” said Loizou. “In the FA Cup, anything can happen.
“We’re desperate for a good run. We’re still trying to buy dug-outs, we’re still paying off our floodlights and we’re still paying for the infields so an FA Cup run would help. It’s vital that we win at least two or three games, for a club like us.”