Hayward takes the positives from a tough start as boss

Gary Hayward
Gary Hayward

Gary Hayward has reflected on a challenging first week as Eastwood Town manager and explained how he is determined to bring stabililty to Coronation Park as soon as possible.

Hayward took charge of the Badgers last Thursday and immediately had to assemble a team for the trip to Kidsgrove on Saturday, a problem made harder by several of the existing squad departing to join former boss Nick Hawkins at Bedworth United.

And while the opening game of his tenure gave Hayward little inspiration given the fragmented team he was forced to put out, the defeat to Lincoln on Tuesday gave him much more cause for optimism.

He said: “Saturday was difficult because we had players ringing at midnight on Friday telling us they weren’t going to play, so we had until 11am on Saturday to find enough players to make a team.

“We didn’t even have a recognised centre-half and had to field a 15-year-old there, and even though things started well it inevitably got too much to ask of a cobbled together squad.

“But by Tuesday we’d managed to bring a few more in, including the likes of Elliott Green at the back, and even though it took us 45 minutes to settle down, the second-half was much better and we probably deserved a draw.

“We hit the bar before half-time, had two blatant penalty appeals for handball turned down and then Josh Schofield’s effort was brilliantly saved in injury-time, so we were unlucky.

“But I was really grateful to the fans for applauding us off as they knew we’d put a shift in, and that was really encouraging.”

Hayward says given the upheaval of recent seasons the priority this time around must be to stay in Evo-Stik Division One South, but he says he then hopes to build for better things.

“What happened before I came doesn’t concern me but clearly stability is needed and we’ve got to make sure we stay in this division, which I believe we will,” he added.

“There are some great people here working really hard and I want to reward them, and the fans, with good, hard-working displays.

“More players will be coming in very soon, including some from clubs at higher levels, and before long I think we’ll have a settled team.”

Eastwood host Halesowen Town in the FA Trophy this weekend, with any necessary replay to take place on Tuesday night.