Sunday, 21 April 2019

Hawks coach ‘excited’ by side’s promotion chances

Hawks coach ‘excited’ by side’s promotion chances

THE head coach of Henley Hawks admits he is excited at the prospect of seeing his side promoted during his first season in charge.

Luke Allen has helped lift Henley into third place in the National League 2 South table off the back of seven straight wins and 20 overall from 25 games played so far.

They are four points behind second-placed Canterbury, whom they visit in their next fixture on March 23.

Allen, who has been in the job since May, has been saying for months that the aim was a top-five finish despite his side’s form.

But now he wants his squad to keep working hard to stay in the promotion hunt for as long as possible.

Allen said: “When we sat down and had a chat at the start of the season we thought that getting into the top four or five would be fantastic.

“What we wanted to do, and we still do, is to consolidate ourselves as a National 2 South club and then look to build on that for next season.

“It has just been about creating a positive atmosphere around the club where players want to come here to play and also to learn and improve and in doing that we have had some success, which is great.

“Being honest, we did not expect to have the level of success that we have had. We knew that we had a good team with potential but the position we have now found ourselves in is exciting.

“So are we pushing for that second promotion place? I would be lying if I said that we weren’t looking at it week on week to keep in the mix and in the race and that is our goal week in and week out.”

He added: “The players are playing well and there is fierce competition for places.”

Allen and his co-head coach Tom Gardner have been analysing on-pitch and training performances and focusing on the “one per cent” that could make all the difference in games.

“The boys know that we are not the finished product yet,” Allen said. “They are in their infancy in terms of where we want them to be and there is still a lot of learning to do from a player and a coach point of view.

“Even though we have got a lot of wins so far, in some games we have had to win ugly. We have made mistakes, although it has been great that we have still been able to come out on the other side of them. This shows that we have potential to be a great team.”

If Henley does return to National League 1 for the first time since 2016, Allen says his side should look to emulate the Rams, who are top of the league with 114 points, having won 23 of their 25 games.

“They have only lost twice,” he said. “Realistically, that is the sort of level of form that we need to be playing at in order to get promotion. Tom and I both work meticulously looking at the one per centers,
seeing where we can make a difference. We want our boys to be big, fit and strong so they can not only get around the pitch but also boss it.

“It is up to us as coaches to give them the framework so they can improve and get better so they know what to do when they are out there so they know when they have the ball, what they need to do to score and when in defence they know how to approach it.”

Allen says he won’t be fazed if his side falls short of promotion and says he is already working on plans for next year regardless of which league they are playing in.

He said: “Promotion itself, if it happens, will just be a by-product of what we are starting to build for next year.

“Already we have discussed and are working on plans, in terms of being in the same league and also if we are promoted.

“If we stay in this league, that’s fine, we will just be working to polish what we already have and we go again.”

• On Sunday, Henley Hawks Women travel to Supermarine in the Plate competition, kick-off at 2pm.

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