Mark Cooper: 'Hosting Anguilla was a special occasion for Windsor FC'

Luke Paris

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Mark Cooper said hosting Anguilla was ‘a special occasion’ for Windsor FC on Tuesday night, as the club welcomed the national football team and four members of their FA, including their chairman, to Stag Meadow for a mid-season friendly.

Having not played competitively since their defeat to Hanworth Villa (January 15), the Royalists competently blew away the cobwebs with a 5-0 victory, thanks to Andrew O’Brien, Excellence Muhemba, Lindell Stewart, Eric Sowolona, and Charlie Jaggers. Cooper was without the services of Luke Paris however, as the defender switched allegiances for the evening and played for the team he currently has five caps for before ultimately being substituted in the 77th minute.

Speaking after the match, the Royalists’ boss said: “It was great to have Anguilla come over. It was their first time in the UK, so it was a special occasion. They were well supported and overall, it was a really good evening. We played ever so well too.

“Luke, who plays for us, has been capped quite a few times now for Anguilla. His dad is somehow involved with the nation and is really to thank for the evening.

“I was his centre-back partner at Harrow when he was player-manager there coming towards the end of his career, and he called me a couple of weeks ago to say ‘Anguilla are coming over to play the British Virgin Islands and they’ve probably got time for one more fixture. Do you fancy it?’

“It was a perfect fixture for us because we haven’t had much football.”

Cooper is hoping the game will have given his squad plenty of belief in themselves approaching this Saturday’s clash against Abbey Rangers.

The Royalists have only played two competitive matches in over a month, a victory over Virginia Water (December 27) before a defeat to Hanworth Villa (January 15)

“I think we’ve only played twice in six weeks? It’s far from ideal,” said Cooper.

“We had a really good game over there earlier in the season which we narrowly lost. They had a very good win at the weekend against Egham Town and Abbey are third in the table with a game in hand. They will be strong opposition that’s for sure, but we’re going there in good spirits.

“We’ve got a really good squad and it’s taken a fair bit of time to get strength in depth. Eighteen lads had a run out against Anguilla so we’re very pleased with how we’re shaping up.

“It’s a shame that we’re at the end of January, with not a lot of the season left, and only now have this squad available. We had so many injuries at the start where we had no centre backs but now we have five. There’s also real competition for places all over the pitch.

“Saturday will be difficult to choose 16 from the 20 available.”

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