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Richardson believes Flackwell Heath can challenge for the title, but doesn't want to jinx it

Marcus Richardson’s Flackwell Heath have made an impressive start to the season, rising to third in the table and within touching distance of the leading sides off the back of Saturday’s thumping 4-0 win at rivals Burnham.

The Heathens have managed to sustain their early season form and Richardson says it’s because his squad now believe in each other and what the management team are trying to achieve.

Saturday was no fluke. In fact, the visitors strolled to victory without ever having to find top gear and, although it’s taken the Heathens a while to find this kind of form and consistency, Richardson believes they’re capable of sustaining it. Rome, he says, wasn’t built in a day.

“It’s not going too bad,” he said this week. “I can’t complain. Only time is going to tell whether we can maintain it. Yeah, it’s taken a couple of years to build this if that makes sense, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“My lads have stuck with me and believed in what I was trying to build from last season. I think they started to see it from last season, especially the last four or five games before the pandemic. We got a run of results and the lads started to believe.

“I managed to keep them together through the pandemic. We were speaking on Zoom and the whole squad was in those calls. I knew then we would be in a good place for the new season. The only player we lost was Dan Bailey to Ascot United, but, as much as I loved Dan, I really believed the lads could push on and that’s what we’ve been doing.

“A few new players have come in. Ezio Touray, he’s come on and done well for us. He’s someone I think is a very promising youngster and I’d like to think he’ll play at a much higher level. I’ve also got Jamie Essex; he’s come back into the fold and brought a killer instinct to the squad. I’d like to believe we’re pushing in the right direction. Everyone is buzzing right now and long may it continue.”

Burnham were swept aside by a hat-trick from Adam Thomas and Richardson was delighted for the player, whose hard work often goes under the radar, to get some recognition.

“No disrespect to Burnham but I’ve seen us play a lot better and come off with just one goal,” he said. “It was nice to put in a performance and score the early goal. Burnham had us on the back foot for 10/15 minutes after that to be honest. We then adjusted a couple of little things and they weren’t able to handle that. We went in at 3-0 and it was lovely to go in knowing we’d sort of wrapped things up. Adam Thomas got a hat-trick and he does so much unselfish work for the team. It’s usually Ashley Howell and Khalid Simmo who is getting the goals or creating them, but it was nice for Adam to get the rewards for the work he puts in at times.”

Richardson didn’t really want to say it for fear of jinxing things, but he really believes Flackwell can challenge for the title this season.

“Don’t jinx me,” he said. “It’s easier said than done and we take each game as it comes. But these players believe in each other, they believe in what we’re doing, they understand what we’re doing, and they enjoy what we’re doing.

“That’s where we’re at. I’ve got a squad that I feel is capable of going all the way, but I don’t want to jinx it. We’re a squad that’s capable of going the distance. I’ve got a management team who won’t let them slip either. We understand the situation, we analyse it, we want to progress. We want every player to be doing well and for people to be knocking on the door for them. It will also be a testament to my management skills to keep them up there.”

Richardson’s side were due to host Westfields on Saturday, but the game has been postponed after several people associated with Westfields tested positive for COVID-19. Flackwell Heath has wished those affected a speedy recovery.

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