Football: Manager Milnes rises to goalkeeping challenge

Tod manager Craig Milnes.
Tod manager Craig Milnes.

Todmorden Borough manager Craig Milnes says he is relishing the unexpected challenge of playing in goal after his hand was forced during the off-season.

Milnes’ men suffered widespread player availability problems as they dropped into the East Lancashire Second Division last season and, after struggling to pick up a keeper during the summer, Milnes opted to put himself between the sticks and said: “I’ve been loving it!

“It’s certainly a challenge to juggle managing the team while trying to keep clean sheets but I’ve been enjoying it so far.

“It obviously isn’t ideal though,” Milnes admitted. “We’re on the look out for a keeper so I can get back to just managing the team, but I’d be more than happy to carry on for a while yet if I need to.”

Despite falling to a 4-0 opening-day defeat against title-hopefuls Waddington, Borough have been on an upward curve in recent weeks.

After coming from 2-0 down to draw against Rosegrove Railway two weeks ago, Tod picked up their first win of the campaign on Saturday, overcoming Barnoldswick Town 2-1, and player-manager Milnes says he has been pleased with his side’s progress so far.

“Our results have been a bit up and down this year but I think our performances have been good throughout,” he said.

“We’re playing good football and it was a relief to see it pay off with us getting that first win on Saturday.

“It’s been coming and we probably benefited from having a few more lads available this week. We’ve got 20 players signed on but we had to run with 11 players last week and we had two subs at the weekend, but that made all the difference.

“We were very happy with how we played on Saturday,” he added. “We played some really good football, had good energy and deserved the win.”

Milnes reserved praise for 16-year-old striker Henry Antemes who played a starring role in the success, winning a second-half penalty which Ben Uttley converted to make it 2-1 after Waddington fought back following Uttley’s opener.

“Henry Antemes is only 16 but he did very well on Saturday,” Milnes enthused. “He’s a very good, young forward and he was terrorising their defence all afternoon.

“They hacked him down a couple of times but he kept on working.

“Their keeper took him out and he probably should have been sent off but we got the penalty which Ben scored and helped get us the win.

“We’ve got a promising side and we’re really looking forward to Saturday.”

Boro face their first away game of the season as they travel to table-toppers Rishton this weekend.

“We’re always upbeat but we feel that bit better after getting a win. Rishton are top so it looks tough on paper but we’re confident we can get a result.”

Meanwhile, it was a proud weekend for the Glover family as brothers Jordan and Luke bagged braces for the club’s under-14s and under-18s, but their efforts proved to be in vain as both sides lost out 3-2.