6th Aug, 2020

"We're used to these situations" - Droitwich well equipped to deal with COVID-19 crisis, says Owen

Ben Tyler 23rd Mar, 2020

MARK Owen is confident that Droitwich Spa will manage the current break in play well having already battled against adversity throughout the campaign to date.

With a question mark over the future of the sport at both professional and grassroots level due to the coronavirus epidemic, it remains to be seen whether clubs nationwide will be afforded the opportunity to see the season through to its conclusion.

For Droitwich – sitting pretty at the top of West Midlands (Regional) League Division One with a 13-point lead over nearest rivals Old Wulfrunians and a far superior goal difference – it would be a huge shame for the Saltmen to miss out on a likely promotion.

Owen is remaining upbeat throughout the current crisis though, and says the club will deal with whatever challenges that come their way.

“I think with us being used to playing away from home – be it at Walshes Meadow in Stourport or further afield in Malvern or Walsall – the club are used to planning for these kinds of situations,” said Droitwich’s manager.

“Playing away from Droitwich has helped us in that way. We won’t be missing out on any kind of additional revenue.

“All we can do is function as best as we can in terms of keeping players fit and being ready to play whenever we’re able to resume the season.”

Spa were one of the few sides in action prior to last Monday’s announcement of the indefinite ban on football, beating Gornal Colts 4-2 at Bromsgrove Sporting’s Victoria Ground on Saturday, 14.

At the fourth different venue Droitwich have played a home game this term, goals from Alex Dugmore, Ben Tilbury and a Connor Collins brace – taking the forward up to 30 goals for the season – put the runaway leaders one step closer to lifting the division title.

The contest was very much a game of two halves as far as the scoreline was concerned, with all four of the Saltmen’s goals arriving in a blistering first-half display, while the visitors from Dudley replied with two consolation strikes after the interval.

Collins stabbed home the opener midway through the half to the delight of the 195 spectators in attendance, followed by his second with another close-range finish on 36 minutes.

Defender Dugmore made it two goals in as many games with a near-post header two minutes later, while Tilbury had the simple task of diverting the ball into an empty net from James Lemon’s unselfish assist.

While Droitwich remained on top and continued to create chances, Gornal goalkeeper George Roberts became something of a force of nature after the break and kept the scoreline down with a string of saves.

The Colts hit back through Levi Salmon’s simple finish 15 minutes into the half, while a second consolation in the 75th minute from Michael Eva helped the visitors save some face.

Owen admitted his surprise at the manner in which his side tore Gornal apart, having expected a tougher proposition in the lead-up to the game.

“In the first half we were absolutely outstanding – their ‘keeper had to make five or six high class saves to keep us from scoring more,” he added.

“It was disappointing to concede as we controlled the game. Other than the two that went in, Matt [Oliver] didn’t have a save to make.

“Going into the game people thought Gornal would make it a really tough game for us. When it’s 4-0 at half-time, it’s one of those things where it’s easy to be settled.

“It was fantastic to see so many people there and to have the experience in a big, open ground at Bromsgrove.”

Keen to mention the landmark moment for his hot-shot forward Collins, the Spa boss says it is little surprise that the striker has bedded in so well at the club.

“We played against him for a number of years previously, so we knew what he was capable of,” said Owen.

“We knew what he would bring so it’s no surprise really. Him and James [Lemon] have struck up an excellent bond and have brought the best out of each other.”

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