A boost in confidence for S&L but Benjamin’s still facing a tough job

Stewarts & Lloyds manager Ian Benjamin
Stewarts & Lloyds manager Ian Benjamin
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Ian Benjamin has conceded the job of leading Stewarts & Lloyds this season has been tougher than he thought it would be.

The Foundrymen boss named himself on the bench for last weekend’s clash at fellow ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Division One strugglers Woodford United after having just 11 first-team players available.

Nonetheless, Benjamin was able to enjoy a second win of the season as Jake Buckingham hit a hat-trick in a 6-2 victory.

It was a morale-boosting win for the Corby-based team and lifted them off the bottom of the table for the first time in a number of weeks.

But Benjamin has given an insight into how tough things have been at Occupation Road.

“For four or five weeks we have been poor really and it’s been disappointing because at the start of November we were showing signs of improvement,” he said.

“I have had a very inconsistent squad with players not available and even last Saturday I had two drop out and one didn’t turn up and it left me just 11 and myself on the bench.

“I am hoping I will get one or two to come in over the next week but I was very pleased with the 11 I did have last weekend, they went out a produced a very good performance.

“It’s tough and it has been a lot tougher than I thought it would be.

“I thought it would take until January to get us close to where I want us to be and I am not that will happen because the truth is, I never really know what squad I am going to have.

“It’s not something I have come across in management before. I have given a lot of young players an opportunity to come and play here and some haven’t taken that opportunity.

“It means I have had to go outside Corby to get one or two in but the lads who have been here consistently are a great bunch and I enjoy working with them.

“To give an example of how hard it’s been, we managed to play Jake Buckingham up front for the first time in six weeks at the weekend and he scored a hat-trick.

“But he had been playing at the back for me because we were so short on defenders, that’s how hard it has been.”

Benjamin was understandably delighted with last weekend’s victory and he is hoping his team can turn in the same sort of display when they host Rushden & Higham United at Occupation Road tomorrow (Saturday).

“It was a funny game because the woodwork was hit five times amongst eight goals being scored,” Benjamin added.

“I thought we played well in the first half and Woodford were probably better than us with the ball after the break but we had four chances and we put them away.

“The most important thing is that it should give the lads a lift and boost in confidence.

“We have Rushden & Higham tomorrow and I just hope we can reproduce that sort of performance.

“But a good step would be to try to have a 14-man squad and keep the same starting line-up because that’s not something we have been able to do yet.”

High-flying Whitworth, who remain in the hunt for promotion, face a trip to Lutterworth Athletic this weekend while in-form Irchester United, who are up to fifth in the table after four wins in a row, head to local rivals Thrapston Town.

Raunds Town take on leaders Daventry Town at Kiln Park and Burton Park Wanderers, who now sit at the foot of the table, entertain Oakham United at Latimer Park.