Fenn wants to finish with win
PUBLISHED: 13:30 21 April 2016
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Foxes expect difficult encounter but positive about future
Ilford travel to Burnham Ramblers this weekend to play their final fixture of the Essex Senior League campaign and manager Allan Fenn is confident they will end with a win.
The Foxes have had a fantastic season, triumphing in 20 of their 39 matches and look set to finish fifth in the table.
But after losing to the Leslie Field club in December, Fenn is taking nothing for granted and knows to expect a tricky encounter.
“We will look to go there and sign off our campaign in style with a win,” said the Ilford boss. “They have improved and got an impressive victory on Monday at Hullbridge Sports, who we have struggled against this year.
“It will be their last home game of the season and they have a young squad which beat us 4-2 before, so we’re under no illusions about how difficult it will be. But with some key players set to return, we hope that helps give us the edge and ensures we end with a win which should guarantee a fifth-place finish.”
That is a marked improvement for the Foxes after they were 10th in the 2014/15 campaign. During Fenn’s first year back in charge of Ilford, they won 16 games and ended up with 54 points.
But they have built on that this season and the Cricklefield outfit have made great strides since previous boss Martin Haywood resigned just before the end of the 2013/14 campaign when they finished 16th.
“I officially took over in June 2014 so nearly 22 months ago and we didn’t have one first-team player to start off with,” added Fenn. “They had all left from the year before and it has been a long, hard slog.
“Our first season was all about re-establishing the club and getting some pride back. Our target for this campaign was to finish in the top five and we’re making great strides in everything we do.
“When we come back for the summer, I hope to have 22 or 23 of the players that have been with us this year. If we can add quality in the attacking areas, I believe we can be knocking on the door for the title.”
Fenn accepts the Essex Senior League will be extremely strong again next season with Basildon United and Barking both definitely remaining in the division.
If Bowers & Pitsea do finish first and get promoted to Ryman North it would leave FC Romania as one of many clubs that could battle for the title next year.
Ilford were on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat at home to leaders Basildon on Saturday. Glen Warwick and Ashley Skeggs put the Foxes 2-1 up, before two goals in the final 13 minutes gave Bees all three points.
But it has failed to knock Fenn’s optimism, he added: “It will be a tough old division next season, but we’re two years into a five-year plan and well on target.
“We are proud of what we’ve achieved and how the players have come on. The experience they have now will only make them better and somebody like Justas Paliulis has made more appearances than anybody else in our team this year.
“He is only 18 and Edas Valionis is the same, he captained the reserves last season, but had made over 40 appearances for the first team. Luke Thomas has captained us in recent weeks, but is only young.
“All those guys will be better next season. We have good youth and experience so we have a really good feeling about what’s going on at the club.”
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