HELLENIC LEAGUE: Braithwaite thinks cup will relax players

This Is Wiltshire: Fairford Town manager Paul Braithwaite Fairford Town manager Paul Braithwaite

FAIRFORD Town manager Paul Braithwaite feels his side’s excursion into the Supplementary Cup this weekend will allow his players a little mental relaxation from the stresses of a promotion push in the league.

Fairford currently sit third in Hellenic Division One West but take on Oxford City Nomads for a place in the third round of the cup on Saturday.

Though, given their fine recent form, Braithwaite would not have minded sticking with the nitty gritty of the league, the Cinder Lane boss is more than happy that his squad get a week’s break from the mental strain that competition brings.

“There are two sides to it – on one you’d quite like to maintain your form in the league but on the other side the lads have had to work really hard in the last five or six games, they’ve really put a good shift in,” he said.

“Obviously we’re not going to go into the game relaxed but there won’t be the mental pressure on their heads to go out and absolutely have to get that result to stay where we are because the league is so tight.

“There are a few teams behind with a few games in hand so when we play it’s important we pick points up, so it will be nice from that point of view mentally that the result isn’t three points. Yes, we want to win and yes, we’ll go out to win the game but our main aim is the league and can we get a promotion push going.

“From a mental point of view not having to work towards three points is nice but we’ll still be working towards a win for definite.”

Braithwaite is expecting Nomads to challenge Fairford all over the park, saying: “Oxford City have good themselves a really good, three-tier club system. They all seem to play off the same ethos of getting the ball down and playing. We have to look solid and set up tight as we usually do and give them nothing.

“I imagine they’ll be a very good footballing side and they’re having a very steady season in the Prem. They’ll be decent and I don’t think they’ll be the typical Prem team that tries to hit the channels more.”

Henry Traas is struggling with a knock he picked up last weekend against North Leigh but Alex Rudd is likely to play a part as he steps up his return from injury. Steve Hall is back from a recent ban and a knee problem, while James Eddy will have a fitness test on a hamstring problem.

“We’ve got three or four coming back from injury so there’s an opportunity to maybe get those guys a game,” said Braithwaite. “We’ll address that on Saturday.”

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