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Royalists are taking hastily arranged cup seriously, says boss Cooper

It may have been hastily organised by the Hellenic League following the cancellation of the league season, but Windsor boss Mark Cooper has said his side are taking the Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup competition very seriously indeed.

The Royalists have made an encouraging start to the Champions League style competition, winning both of their opening group matches against Wokingham & Emmbrook (3-2) and Holyport (6-2).

They now look well poised to reach the knock-out stages of the competition which will be scheduled throughout May.

On Saturday they scored four late goals to extinguish Holyport’s hopes of a group stage upset. Matty Ayres gave them the lead and Charlie Samuel’s goal put them in the driving seat before half-time. Port fought back with a goal from Andy Forisky before goals from Luke Paris, Jaggers, Samuel and Hope put the seal on a convincing.

On Tuesday evening they followed it up with a 1-0 defeat against Virginia Water and they’ll play their tenants once more at Stag Meadow this Saturday.

“To us it’s very competitive,” said Cooper. “We’re taking this competition very seriously and it’s wonderful to be back training and playing matches again.

“We’re going into the tournament looking to progress as far as we can.

“It’s a competitive tournament with something on the line.

“It’s the only competition we’ve got in front of us at the moment, so we want to do well in it.

“We like the format, 32 teams, eight groups of four, and we’ve started very well but there’s room for improvement.”

Cooper accepts it will be tough for the players to play so many competitive matches having been unable to train or play for three and a half months. However, while he admits they’ve already been depleted by niggling injuries, he’s hopeful the players will regain their sharpness in the coming weeks and said the Royalists would continue in the competition until they’re knocked out or lift the trophy.

“We’ve started well but can still make a lot of improvements,” he added on Monday.

“It’s a tough ask for the boys who haven’t played in three and a half months to suddenly asked them to play two 90 minutes a week. We’ve picked up some niggles and are light on numbers but so far, we’ve managed to pick up maximum points. We now must try and get the boys up to full fitness.

“I don’t know who we’ll get if we go through, I don’t think it’s been pre-determined.

“We’ll have to wait and see who comes out of the hat, but we’ll be in it until we’re knocked out or the competition finishes.”

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