Tigers plight at bottom is nothing new in life of Riley

First published in Sport

By Neil Bonnar

MATT Riley has summed up Sedgley Park’s roller-coaster season, admitting: “It feels like two seasons rolled in one.”

The Tigers’ run of nine defeats in the last 10 games has left the Whitefield men in the National League One relegation zone.

It is in stark contrast to early season when they were going well in the league and had a new highly-rated coach in Clive Griffiths.

With Griffiths and established coaches Rich Senior and Dave Peet all leaving, the role of training and leading the team was taken on by two or three senior players with ambitions of going into coaching.

Add to that a horrendous run of injuries and it has been a season of turbulent change for the Tigers, who host third-placed Esher on Saturday, kick off 2.30pm.

“The first few games we played showed so much promise,” said inside centre Riley, who has survived relegation battles before in his seven seasons at Park Lane.

“Once the coach left it was left to some of the more experienced players to take it on.

“The table doesn’t lie, if you are in the bottom three you deserve to be.

“But we have had a bad run of injuries which have left us without some of our more experienced players, and that has meant we have lacked a bit of leadership and experience at times which prevented us from closing out games.

“We’re always confident, though, whoever we’re playing.

“We know we have the quality in the squad to win games.

“We showed that in the early part of the season when we won three of our first seven or eight games and could easily have won three or four more.

“We never doubt ourselves, and think we have a really good chance of winning before every game.

“We know we have the players to win.

“All the teams in the league are so closely matched that virtually anybody can beat anybody.

“We’re no different in that and we’ll be going out confident of beating Esher this weekend, even though they are up there in the league.”

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