Belford reflects on start to season and support

Manager Courtney Belford admits he’d “have snapped your hand off” if he’d been offered 19 points out of 21 going into a second lockdown.

AFC were unbeaten in the final seven games before the enforced month-long break, having moved up to third in the table with six straight wins and a 1-1 stalemate against GNP Sports.

And the manager says his side have made huge strides in the last couple of months after a difficult start to the season. He said: “It’s been a good six weeks for us.

“At the end of September when we’d just lost three games in a week to Studley twice and Lichfield, if you’d offered us 19 points out of the next 21 we’d have snapped your hand off. ”

He admits being disappointed not to have made it a club record breaking seven league wins on the bounce when AFC had to settle for a point against GNP Sports.

But having previously bemoaned his side’s inability to take draws from games, he thinks they’re now making progress in that regard.

“I said the same after the Chelmsley game, but again, I think if we play that game earlier on in the season we don’t get anything from it. We’ve shown that staying in games is important when we’re not on top, and we’re conceding fewer goals.

“We set up to win every game whether we’re playing a bottom of the table side like GNP or Lichfield who are top. We changed shape which in hindsight maybe didn’t suit us, but I thought we controlled it after they went down to ten men.

“Fair play to them because they came at us and had a real go with some good young players. They had a few players we’d never seen before and hadn’t prepared for and in the end I think the draw was fair. If we can’t win then we’ll take the point and move on.”

That game saw another impressive crowd of 171 on a bitterly cold Tuesday night just before lockdown – although it was the club’s lowest attendance of the season so far.

With an average attendance of 219 across eight home games, Hinckley have benefitted from further a boost in an already impressive support for the level with the move to groundshare at Barwell’s Kirkby Road.

And Belford says that extra support has been a huge help to the players on the pitch.

“When you speak to players they always ask about the fanbase at Hinckley. I always enjoyed it as a player and a manager coming up against Hinckley. Having that number of fans here makes it feel like a proper football match and it’s been great to see old and new faces.

“I’d like to think we’re an approachable group as a management team and we’ve got an approachable group of players. To be able to talk to people after matches around the bar area is something that we missed at Ibstock and gives that community feel.

“We know we’ve got to keep giving people that reason to watch us. But from me it’s a massive thanks to all the fans who have been this season. The players really appreciate it and it’s taken a massive collective effort from the staff, the Board and everyone involved.

“We’d have taken this after a third of the season especially after our first few games, and the fans have been hugely important to the turnaround.

“Non-league football is all about the fans and I’m so proud of the support we’ve had this season.”

, ,