Cooper confident X-Roads can turn the tide
Goalkeeper Dashun Cooper is confident X-Roads will soon turn things around after two heavy defeats under new coach Larry Smith, who replaced Farid El Karfa after he left the island in the summer.
El Karfa, a Moroccan national, led the club into the Premier Division for the first time in 2017 as First Division champions.
He then kept them in the top flight the last two seasons with finishes of eighth and fifth as they avoided the drop and then comfortably qualified for the Dudley Eve Trophy this season, also a first for the team. The team also played in their first FA Cup final last season, losing 3-2 to Robin Hood.
X-Roads have not had the best of starts this campaign, losing 6-0 to Dandy Town in their Dudley Eve Trophy debut and then 5-0 to promoted side Southampton Rangers on Sunday in their Premier Division opener.
They meet the other promoted team, Somerset Eagles, on Sunday as they look to turn things around with their first win of the season.
X-Roads were due to meet PHC in the final group match in the Dudley Eve Trophy competition tonight, with a semi-final place at stake, but the double-header at Goose Gosling Field was called off because of pitch damage caused by hurricane Humberto.
“It's been a bit of a hard start because of the Dudley Eve Trophy game and obviously the league game on Sunday,” Cooper said.
“We're going over some new things, looking to play a bit differently.
“Obviously, we have some different players and are missing a couple of players.
“It is just going over small things really, but nothing that we can't get over. It's going to take a little time.
“We have a couple of young players, Daniel Osset and Caleb McDowell, and trying to get both those guys some minutes.
“I coached both those guys last year for the BAA under-15s and both made their league debuts on Sunday, so I'm really happy for them. Daniel played in midfield and Caleb at right back.”
X-Roads also picked up veteran defender Tyrell Burgess from BAA, while losing brothers Takyh and Khiari Sharrieff-Hayward to Somerset Trojans, Teiko Lowe to Dandy Town and Jahron Dickinson back to St George's.
“Tyrell brings a lot of experience; obviously he's been around the game for a long time now,” Cooper said. “Hopefully, the team can feed off that. “After the first month, people always want to say who's going to win the league and who is going to get relegated, but you can't say that.
“We've just got to keep our heads down and get to work.
“Football is a game that's played on the day, which means anybody can beat anybody.
“It's hard work and whoever does their job the best, that's what it really boils down to.”
The called-off game against the Zebras gives X-Roads more time to prepare for their second league encounter against Eagles who produced the first big upset in the league by beating Dandy Town 1-0 on Sunday. Robin Hood were also due to play Boulevard in tonight's opening match.
“It's kind of a good thing for us; now we can focus back more on the league and getting a good result on Sunday,” Cooper said.
“It's still early, we've got a lot of work to do, but obviously we look to get it done.
“Larry Smith brings a lot of years of football; we're looking for him to bring a lot to the team and obviously we also have to give a lot to him.”
Last season, X-Roads won their first four league games against Somerset, North Village, BAA and Boulevard and spent the first half of the season in the top three along with PHC and Robin Hood, twice holding down first place after winning five of their first six matches.