Coach Jensen Rogers happy to help Eagles to first victory
Jensen Rogers, the Somerset Eagles coach, donned boots for the first time in more than two years to help his team keep a clean sheet and pick up their first win of the season on Sunday.
Rogers, who last played for Paget in their relegation season in 2018-19 when he made a few appearances while also coaching Somerset Eagles to promotion in that same campaign, made a return to playing against North Village on Sunday at Bernard Park as the visitors shocked their hosts.
The 37-year-old’s experience in defence proved vital as Eagles, who conceded ten goals in their first two games, kept a first clean sheet before veteran forward Shakir Smith scored a late winner.
However, Rogers isn’t planning to play regularly, but will be available if he thinks his team needs him.
“I enjoyed Sunday but I’m not looking to play every match,” he stressed. “My role is to come in when needed, I trust my players fully to handle the week-to-week business, but if needed then I’m there. My role is coach first and player-coach second.”
Rogers underlined that he is focussing on his psychological approach and relying on his experience to help his team when needed.
“The last time I played I was signed up for Paget, probably two seasons ago. The challenge is definitely physical, now I have to go more on the mental part and use my experience,” he said.
“It’s just about getting myself in good condition and using my experience to get through the 90 [minutes]. The game against Village was my first game.”
Eagles, who lost six players during the transfer period, have survival as their priority with three teams being relegated at the end of the campaign.
“We lost a few players but we also gained a few,” he pointed out. “The objective this season is obviously not to be in the bottom three and I think we have a good chance.
“We just have to understand that points are important, that each match is about picking up points, even if it is just one point. We need points!”
Smith, one of the new signings, brought three points to the cause with his first goal following his move from Robin Hood.
“The first game against PHC (6-1) I was unavailable, my coaching staff did a good job though we leaked some goals,” explained Rogers, who is assisted by former national coach Gary Darrell.
“Against Cougars (4-0) it was 0-0 at half time and I didn’t think we would leak as many goals as we did but, again, we made a few mistakes and quality teams will punish you.
“Against Village I came in and used my experience to organise the team, get the levels of communication going and we got a clean sheet and a goal at the other end.
“We’re seeing some positives with what we have up front and we definitely know we can score some goals. The goalkeeper [Jermaine Rumley] has been fantastic. He didn’t play the first match, he came in against Cougars and had a fantastic game so we stuck with him.
“Against Village, he had another good performance. It’s just about building good performances.”
Rogers added: “We have a small squad so we cannot have a team where two or three guys who are under performing. You had me at the heart of the defence on Sunday, then we had Anwar Telford in the heart of midfield and Shakir Smith up front.
Rogers underlined the importance of securing points on their travels.
“We have a lot of games away from home in the first half so the goal is to pick up points on the road and when the season turns around we know the effect that White Hill has,” said
Sunday’s win was sweet for the Eagles fans as the team got one up on former player and coach Kenny Thompson, now the Village coach.
“Kenny is well respected in the White Hill community for the things he’s done as a player and a coach,” Rogers admits.
“I respect Kenny tremendously, my first coaching job was under Kenny in his grassroots system and I look at him as a mentor.”
Last season’s visit to Bernard Park saw Eagles trailing Village 2-1 when a heavy downpour forced the match to be abandoned in the 74th minute with Eagles still very much in the game. The score was allowed to stand.
“It was good to get one over on Village,” Rogers said. “Eagles and Village, we always tend to have close, good encounters.
“Sunday was another good game and this time we came out on top.”