Alfreton v AFC Telford: Players wanted game on, says Gavin Cowan after outbreak

Manager Gavin Cowan praised his AFC Telford United players for their determination to get tomorrow’s match at Alfreton on.

The National League North fixture was in the balance after the majority of the club only finished a period of isolation at midnight following a Covid-19 outbreak.

However, after receiving the OK from the league that all but the ‘couple’ of positive cases could feature, Telford players rallied to get the game on by agreeing to train today ahead of the clash in Derbyshire less than 24 hours later.

Today’s session at Lilleshall will be a first for more than two weeks. Cowan has held Zoom calls with his players to discuss tomorrow’s hosts, their strengths and weaknesses.

“It’ll be two weeks and one day since we’ve trained, 15 days,” Cowan said. “I can have Zoom meetings with players as much as I want and those not needing to isolate can have as many runs as they want, but you can’t replicate what you’d do in training. It’s very difficult to shift training, credit to the players for being able to accommodate that, as it’s something we didn’t imagine we’d be able to do. The players rallied round and wanted the game on tomorrow.

“Again credit to the club, with things against us we’ve tried to stick with the integrity of the competition to carry on and play.”

The Bucks’ trip to Boston last weekend fell by the wayside due to the outbreak. It was the second postponement in the early weeks of the season for Telford, after the opening-day clash at Darlington was also called off. The club are working on rearrangements.

Telford were keen not to have another fixture rescheduled for later in the season, even though Cowan is without at least two players who tested positive for tomorrow’s game. They are already two games down on most rivals.

Hosts Alfreton, meanwhile, are 20th in the early standings with one win and four defeats from five games. Billy Heath’s men have been involved in two high-scoring 3-2 contests – a win and defeat – as well as narrow 1-0 reverses to Chorley and Brackley.

They boast new recruit former Lincoln frontman Matt Rhead in their ranks.

The big striker, now 37, has two goals already this term.

Cowan added: “We’re very early into the season, both teams trying to establish a style of play. There’s not too much you can read into it but I’ve done my due diligence on their games. It’s going to be very combative and hard-fought, a lot of desire in the game.

“I’d like to think we’ve got the ability to win matches, but they’ve got those too.

“I remember seeing him (Rhead) only recently in a cup final against Shrewsbury. He’s very good and hard to handle, I played against him myself in the past, it’s no easy feat.

“But ultimately there are no easy teams or poor players I’ve seen in this league, it’ll be very competitive.”

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