AFC Unity immediately got back on track this week, winning 2-7 at the New Bohemians in their second Third Division fixture.
“It was back to playing football, like we enjoy doing,” said manager Jay Baker. “The whole ethos and atmosphere for the game was sportsmanlike; Richard (Slattery, New Bohemians manager) has a great outlook, and it has the effect on his team, who were welcoming, fair, sporting, and play some really nice football.”
However, Baker added, that’s also what AFC Unity are about.
“As in the pre-season, we play our best football when we’re against footballing sides,” he explained. “Last week’s experience, aside from the unsavoury aspects, was like going against Don Revie’s Leeds – what I like to call smash-mouth football – but that’s not our way. Jonny (Hodgson, AFC Unity’s coach) and I have encouraged the ethos of the club itself into the team, where fair play and passing football is important.”
AFC Unity’s “passing football” only increased tempo as the game progressed, leading 1-3 at half-time, and refusing to drop deep, with full-backs pushing up to further maintain momentum.
“I don’t like the cynicism of dropping deep and defending when you’re in the lead,” Baker said. “And what we did well when conceding the two goals was respond to each of them instantly with a goal of our own. Each and every one of our players put a good performance in, and we’re starting to gel and retain the discipline of the training sessions.”
However, Baker urges people not to rule out New Bohemians.
“They’re a fantastic club, really professional, and the women’s team is still playing with a small squad, to be fair – we had three substitutes and kept rolling, whereas they only had their eleven players on the day, and that takes it out of a team as well. As they develop and grow, that kind of football is going to scalp some sides – I just hope it’s not us!”
AFC Unity goals came from Lucy Strutt (3), Jane Watkinson (2), Nathalie Silver and Lena Reitzle.