08:30AM, Monday 10 July 2017
MAIDENHEAD United boss Alan Devonshire has said he’s reluctant to put out a full strength side for the Magpies’ Berks & Bucks Senior Cup final with Hungerford Town at Arbour Park, for fear of his players picking up injuries on the ‘plastic pitch’.
The United boss admitted it’s good to have a competitive game in pre-season to test the players ahead of their step up to the National League but wishes it could have been played on a grass surface, where he would have felt more comfortable putting out a stronger side.
It is the first time in the competition’s history that the final will be played on an artificial surface and Devonshire said he’d rather the two clubs had flipped a coin to determine whether the final was played at York Road or Bulpit Lane.
“I spoke with Bobby (Wilkinson, the Hungerford boss) and he said he would have been happy with that,” said Devonshire.
“I know that we’ve got to play three or four teams in the Conference who have plastic pitches but I’ll be very cautious about playing a full-strength side because I don’t want players to pick up injuries.
“When you’re not used to playing on that surface that sort of thing can happen. To be fair they should have played the game after the season on the Bank Holiday Monday and then cancelled it if there was a problem but they didn’t do that.
"They do things their own way but I don’t understand why it has to be on a plastic pitch.
“I’m now having to think about playing a weakened side for it.”
The final is scheduled for Arbour Park on Tuesday, July 25 (7.45pm kick-off), having already been postponed twice last season because it would have interfered with both clubs’ promotion aims at the time.
The Magpies last lifted the trophy in 2015 when Johnson Hippolyte guided the side to a 4-1 win over Aylesbury United while Devonshire collected the last of his four wins as manager back in 2003.
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