Haringey Borough have the ‘perfect squad’ as injured players return to boost play-off bid

Ralston Gabriel (right) impressed for Haringey Borough and set up the winning goal at Coles Park. Pi

Ralston Gabriel (right) impressed for Haringey Borough and set up the winning goal at Coles Park. Picture: Tony Gay

Tom Loizou feels he has the “perfect squad” and the Haringey Borough manager is intent on pushing for a play-off spot in Ryman League Division One North after Saturday’s home win over Wroxham.

Ali Setirekli’s 37th-minute goal proved to be decisive as Borough overcame the basement boys at Coles Park – and the margin of victory should have been greater.

Striker Adrian Markus had a very frustrating day, seeing two goals disallowed and hitting the inside of the post while also firing over twice from good positions – and in the end there were tense scenes as Wroxham keeper Elliot Pride came all the way up to the six-yard box for a stoppage-time corner.

But, when the final whistle went, Haringey were able to celebrate their second successive victory and the result took them up to 13th place in a congested table, with eighth-placed Thurrock only three points ahead.

“The performance rolled on from the previous games, and we’re unbeaten now for six games, which always makes the performance seem that little bit better,” Loizou told Ham&High Sport. “We were better than the 1-0 win, but right near the end it could have been 1-1.

“We scored twice and both of them were ruled out – there’s a question mark over the second one but that’s football for you. We’re getting a little bit of the rub of the green now because we’ve lifted from the bottom of the table, and we’re in a respectable position at the moment.

“I think we’ve got the perfect squad at the moment. If we get all our injured players back I don’t feel like I need to be signing anybody else.

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“We’ve still got Chris Benjamin to come back into the side and I’ve got Dan Aristidou, who we rested this week. Then I’ve got Anton Blackwood, who can play in various positions, and I’ve got Saleem Masri, who’s also struggling to get fit but is almost there. I think we’ve got the all-round squad to push for the play-offs.

“I feel when the season started off we were very frustrated, possibly because of the amount of injuries we’ve had. But we’ve had a load of injuries come back now – a few long-term ones.

“I think the only one out now is Coby Rowe, who’s having an operation on his shoulder – although we picked up another one, Ross Dedman, on Saturday, which is frustrating.

“How he rolled his ankle on an Astroturf pitch I’ll never know! So that’s another centre-half out, but we look at it as giving other players opportunities.

“Whoever I start now is a strong side, and whatever bench I’ve got are not there just to make up the numbers. We’ve got a strong bench, and I think that’s what’s making the difference at the moment.”

Setirekli’s well-placed first-half finish followed a blistering run and a sumptuous ball across the box from Ralston Gabriel, who produced a stand-out performance for Borough.

Gabriel was at the centre of almost all of the team’s attacking moves and he used his pace to good effect on the counter-attack in the second half after being moved to the right flank, while also carrying out his defensive duties admirably when Wroxham applied pressure late on.

“Gabriel can play more or less any position,” said Loizou. “He’s been very impressive for us this season, and hopefully we can keep him fit. He’s struggling with a couple of little niggles but hopefully we can keep him fit.”

Haringey Borough will be on the road twice in the next week, visiting third-placed Bury Town this Saturday and then 16th-placed Ware on Tuesday.