Hendon manager David Garbacz insists are side are more than capable of coming back from Oldham this weekend with the Peter Morrison Cup – and in doing so preventing AFC Flixton from winning a league and cup quadruple.
Garbacz saw his side’s hopes of retaining their treble wrecked by Norstar London Raiders A over the past month, though says the players are still confident they can end their season on a high. He said: “Confidence was low after the Cyril Anekstein defeat – however our second half performance that day did show some of the old qualities and maintained the belief that we haven’t suddenly become a poor team.
“We put in a good showing on Sunday against a much more incentivised Neasden team [in the League] and took a good point when we only had half our team available. We look forward to a decent training session in midweek and there’s a genuine excitement building that we can do the business on Sunday. We’re grateful to have the opportunity once more to win some silverware this season and we are determined to end the season on a winning note.”
Confident losing both the Premier Division title and Cyril Anekstein Cup won’t have too much of an effect on his players, he said: “Over the past few years we’ve tasted many victories and also a few defeats in cup finals, so we have the experience to move on from here. I still maintain that considering the injuries we have had this year, if we were to win the Morrison it would still represent a pretty good season.”
Knowing about the opposition that awaits them, having played – and narrowly beaten them – last season, he does though say they’ll be underdogs. “We’ll be travelling up there as underdogs – they will have the majority of the support but I believe we will relish that challenge and the ability to become party poopers,” he says. “They’ve won everything up north and possess some excellent players. We know they’re tough and strong and we’re expecting them to come at us in a fully committed manner. We need to improve dramatically from our performance in the Anekstein Final but I think we learnt some harsh lessons that day and will not make the same mistakes again.”
Insisting the game isn’t make-or-break in terms of saving their season, he says: “It was always going to be extremely difficult to emulate last season’s amazing achievements and the fact we’ve done as well as we have is a testament to the squad and their talent. We’ve had a number of injuries and setbacks this year and the squad has not been as strong and our options have been limited. It would be great to win on Sunday but it’s not a case of saving our season – it is a case of putting some icing on an already tasty cake.
“It will be hard to lift the boys but we are not schlepping up to Oldham for the countryside views on the M6. We hope to turn up with a proper tough old school Hendon performance and literally give everything to ensure we are travelling back victorious. We’re going up north with a renewed optimism and hope to represent the south with everything we’ve got.”
Flixton manager Stuart Delmont says he’s confident his side can win, though they will have to do it the hard way as they’ll be without four key players. He said: “We’re confident, but are missing four big players who would have played through injury. We’ll give it our best shot, if they’re the strongest in the south, we’re the strongest in the north – you don’t win your Premier League and be in three cup finals if you are not a half decent team.”
Calling Hendon “a very good footballing side who love to move the ball quick, fast and with precision accuracy,” he says they’re favourites to win the match, though they will be taking the game to them. “Our game plan is to win and play to our strengths, not theirs”, he says. “Our strength comes from everywhere, even with four players missing, the second string players will come in and do a job. All our players can be dangerous, from anywhere.”
Having already won the Manchester Accounts Football League and in the final of both the League’s Knock-out and Handicap cup competitions, he says victory on Sunday would be ‘a dream come true’, as well as being a case of history repeating itself. “Tony (assistant manager) and myself won the competition three years ago when we were at Maccabi Manchester. We love the feeling – as do five or six of the boys who were with us then on what was a wonderful day… at Oldham Athletic.”