Titterington tips his Newtownbreda side 2B challengers
It takes a lot of factors to click together in order to lift a league title, and right now that seems to be what is starting to happen at Newtownbreda – but perhaps the biggest factor of all is that they don’t even think of themselves as in the running.
This is a team with everything going in its favour at the moment. A solid back-line, a dependable stand-in goalkeeper currently replacing the unavailable number one, a positive midfield, and a goal-hungry attack… even the 38-year-old manager is getting in on the act, third in the goal charts at present.
Although they are in Division 2B, the second lowest division of the Northern Amateur Football League, they have also fared recently well in the cup competitions - demonstrated by the fact that they are top of the table despite having only played seven league games to date.
Now, with only the league campaign to focus on, it will be interesting to see just how this crucial second part of the season pans out for Newtownbreda, as they look to build on the 18 points amassed so far
Player manager Matthew Titterington said: “We actually put up a good display against (Division 2A leaders) Tullycarnet in the Clarence Cup, with seven of our first choice players missing, before they rolled over us in the second half, but I think a few of us were quite relieved to be out of the cups.
“I always said I thought it would be three years before we could put in a challenge. This is my third year in charge, and hopefully that’s what’s happening.
“I don’t think anyone in this team sees themselves as title contenders, though. They are all too busy thinking about the next game.”
And who can blame them? Titterington and his staff seem to have succeeded in creating a very happy camp at the minute, playing the type of free-flowing football that has helped to create plenty of goals with it.
In fact, despite having only played less than a third of their quota for the season, Newtownbreda’s 31 goals have ensured they are still right up there with the highest scorers in the entire NAFL.
And that seems to have stemmed from a strike partnership that has been leading from the front. Having taught both October arrival Aaron Dalzell and established Newtownbreda striker Gavin McCaughan at RBAI, Titterington had an inkling the two might make an effective partnership, and boy, was he right!
“Aaron has hit 13 in 7 or 8 games now, and Gavin has hit 17,” smiled their manager and former teacher in the lead-up to their 5-0 win over Whitehead on Saturday. “There was a match where Gavin said ‘I’ll get a hat-trick today,’ and Aaron said, ‘I’ll get two,’ and then they went out and did just that.
“They are just so unbelievably quick and talented. Aaron has settled in so well, and Gavin has been our top scorer the last couple of years – I set him a target, but I think I’m going to have to tear that up and start again!”
At the other end, the club have unfortunately had to do without the services of their first choice goalkeeper Adam Beattie, due to work commitments, but Titterington’s elder brother David, has been contributing his decades of Irish League experience with the likes of Lisburn Distillery and Ballyclare Comrades until Beattie’s eagerly-anticipated return.
And despite the eye-catching young talent at Newtownbreda, the experienced Titterington insists that the senior back-bone of the team has been one of the major contributing elements to their promising form.
He added: “I have five boys here or are over 30 and I don’t think they realise how important they are. They are probably even more fit that the younger ones, and set a positive example for the rest to follow.
“The good thing is that all the players don’t want me to stand still… they all keep asking me to sign new players, and hopefully we have another three who will improve the squad.
“There is no bickering, and a few boys have told me this is the happiest team they have ever been in.”
No doubt those smiles will be even wider if Newtownbreda can get their hands on this season’s 2B title.
Belfast Telegraph Digital