MANAGER Keith Draper paid tribute to his battling Fairfield Villa side after getting their Post-Covid Lockdown Charity Cup campaign back on track over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The Swans now sit third in group one after picking up a morale-boosting 2-1 victory at Alcester Town with ten men last Saturday – just a week after being downed 4-0 by the Romans – before battling to a point at Hampton’s Field Lane home two days later.
With six games of the group stage remaining, Fairfield are well-placed to fight for a place in next month’s semi-final, although Draper is keen to keep discovering more about his players’ credentials throughout the end-of-season tournament.
“It was a very positive weekend with a haul of four points from the two games, but the most pleasing aspect has been the way that the whole squad has been utilised,” he said.
“We are learning about the players we have in every game.
“We’ve played three away games now and are unbeaten [during that run], which is a credit to the boys.”
In the opening match of Villa’s action-packed weekend, a much-changed side looked to make amends for the humbling in the previous meeting with Alcester, and they built on a promising opening to take the lead.
With Pete Jenvey pressing high up the pitch, an Alcester defender played the ball back to the goalkeeper and, following a miskick, gifted a 15th-minute own goal.
Fairfield grew in confidence, going 2-0 up before half-time when debutant George Tolley’s well-timed header left the ball nestling in the back of the net.
In an eventful second half Alcester halved the deficit through a Reece Jacobs penalty, before Adam Sorrell saw red with 12 minutes remaining.
Despite this, Villa were able to hang on for the points.
Another starting XI shake-up took to the field in tough conditions on Monday at Hampton, offering Draper useful insight into the characteristics of Fairfield’s current crop.
With good football hard to come by, a Swans breakthrough was a relief as Tolley went clean through to fire his second Villa goal. But with Hampton pulling level a minute before the break through Paul Bonar’s header, the match was all-square again.
As conditions worsened, the work-rate of the visitors increased in search of a winner that ultimately did not come, despite Dan Ludlow, Luke Dugmore and Tolley all going close.
Fairfield host Coventry Alvis on Saturday, before heading to Redditch Borough next Wednesday night.