Ilford manager Allan Fenn ‘buzzing’ for first Essex Senior League fixture against local rivals Barkingside

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 July 2016

Ilford manager Allan Fenn urges his team on from the sidelines. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Ilford manager Allan Fenn urges his team on from the sidelines. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Cricklefield outfit play host to tennants Barkingside and can’t wait to get the new season underway

Ilford manager Allan Fenn is excited about the start of the Essex Senior League campaign and looking for his team to improve on their fifth place finish last year.

The Foxes boss expects a tough encounter first up against local rivals Barkingside, but remains confident his men can began with a win.

Side suffered relegation from the Ryman North last year and although Fenn isn’t too sure how they’ve recruited this summer, he expects a battle.

He said: “I don’t know if Gus has kept his squad from last season, got a completely new one or just added to it.

“With the lack of time and preparation, I haven’t been able to see them, but what I do know is they will be powerful, organised and play with a lot of passion.

“They will be one of the best technical teams in the division and we’re going to need to be on top of our game to get a good result, but I fully believe we can.”

Normally the league campaign doesn’t kick-off until August, but this time it begins on July 30.

While Fenn concedes it is earlier than he would have liked, his players can’t wait to get going again.

He added: “We have tried to cram in eight weeks of fitness into five with the season starting on July 30.

“The boys have responded really well, though, and are now champing at the bit for Saturday’s match.”

Ilford had to contend with relegation from the Ryman North three years ago and struggled in their first campaign back in the Essex Senior League.

They’ve improved since Fenn took charge before the 2014/15 season, but he believes Barkingside and fellow local rivals Redbridge, who face Barking on the opening day, will have to adjust to their new surroundings.

“One of the hardest things when you go down from the Ryman Leagues to this level is mentality,” said Fenn.

“What you find is the standard of referees, state of the pitches is very different and so unpredictable. It takes you a while to get your head around that and obviously to get over being relegated.

“You are visiting lesser grounds so to speak and you aren’t going to the Thurrock’s and the Sudbury’s.

“Barkingside will find it difficult, but what Gus has got, and you can’t take it away from him, is passion and desire.

“It reflects in his players, they play the same way and they will be talking about bouncing back and so it should be a good contest on Saturday.”

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