Spencer Day insists his chop-and-change Farnborough side will have enough to survive the drop from Skrill South – even though he’s just sold their most popular player.
The Boro boss faces the wrath of already dispirited fans by accepting an offer from Ryman Premier high-fliers Kingstonian for midfield dynamo and local favourite Steve Laidler.
The 30-year-old has been a revelation in his second spell at the club and swept the board at last season’s Player of the Year awards ceremony.
But Day and his coaches have now decided it’s best the stand-in skipper moved on to pastures new after contract talks for next season had stalled over wages.
After being informed of interest from Kingsmeadow, Laidler opened talks with Ks chief Alan Dowson on Tuesday night before finally putting pen-to-paper on Wednesday (March 5) and becoming the latest big name to depart Paddy Power Park this season, following the likes of Dave Tarpey, Scott Donnelly, Reece Connolly and Elvis Hammond.
At the same time, however, Day also revealed the club has rejected a separate offer for captain Alan Inns with talks very much geared towards the former Woking player signing a new contract for next season.
And the boss further softened the blow by announcing that popular winger Tyrone Berry is back at the club after his shock switch to Cray Wanderers ended prematurely.
Day revealed: “It was an extremely difficult one with Laids. I love him to bits, I gave him every award on the planet last season and he obviously goes with my blessing.
“But we're at that difficult stage where we have to have one eye on what we have now and another for next season and we just could not afford to keep Steve with the money he wanted.
“A good core of players have told me they want to sign contracts for next year but, first and foremost, we have to look after the best interests of the football club if we are to be sustainable.
“We then received the offer from Kingstonian and after thinking long and hard about it, decided to accept and move on. I’ve got plenty of cover in that area now with Harry Lee coming back, Matt Ball, [Adam] Doyle and [Alfred] Bosch so we all decided it was the right thing to do.
“With Inns it was different. He, like Steve, has a young baby and works locally, but is happy with the terms we are offering and wants to stay – just like we want to keep him. Hopefully he will sign a new deal for next season.”
Of Berry’s shock return, Day added: “It’s one of those situations in football when players realise that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Tyrone came to me and asked to come back on the same money he was on. He’s a lovely guy and did really well for us in his second spell so he offers us a really good option.”
The spinning of the Paddy Power revolving door comes at a crucial time in Boro's season with the club eight points clear of the relegation places and facing two tough home games in the space of 48 hours.
First, rivals Basingstoke Town make the short trip up the M3 on Thursday evening (March 6) before title chasers Sutton United visit on Saturday (March 8).
This comes after Day’s men failed to do Sutton a favour on Saturday when goals at the start of each half proved their undoing at Ebbsfleet United on Saturday.
The visitors, who fell behind to an Anthony Cook strike five minutes in, came right back into the game towards the end of the first half.
But the second period was less than two minutes old when Dean Rance made it 2-0 with a header which effectively ended Boro’s resistance.
And a late Ben May goal completed an afternoon to forget for Farnborough boss Spencer Day.
He said: “It was killer goals at killer times. I thought we were by far the better side after the first five minutes but we gifted them a goal.
“We played some great stuff in the first half and you could hear the crowd starting to get very edgy. It was very muted applause at half-time, even though the home side were winning.
“But it was game over, 90 seconds into the second half, and it’s the third time that’s happened recently. We haven’t turned up in the second half. We just didn’t believe in ourselves and work hard enough to think that if we got one, we might have got two.”
The Kent side hit the front early on when Cook retrieved a deep Joe Howe cross from the right and cut back into the box before firing a low shot under goalkeeper Kevin Scriven.
Two former Boro players almost combined to double the Fleet’s lead, Osei Sankofa heading a Daryl McMahon cross just over. Scriven then tipped an Alex Osborn volley over the bar.
But Farnborough had a great chance to equalise when Dan Bennett seized on a poor clearance by Fleet keeper Preston Edwards and played in Jamal Lowe. The debutant striker, on loan from Barnet, rounded Edwards but Anthony Acheampong got back to clear his shot off the line.
And it proved to be a key moment as with some fans still making their way back to the terraces after half-time when McMahon’s inswinging corner from the right was headed in by Rance.
Day said: “From our perspective, we’ve gifted them the game. It was a shocking corner to give away in the first place, with miscommunication in our back four, and then he scored from three yards out – so I’ve got a problem with my marker and a problem with my keeper. It’s game over against a side as strong as Ebbsfleet.
“At 2-0 down, our heads went down, and Ebbsfleet could have scored more in the second half. Our heads were gone.”
Billy Bricknell should have made it 3-0, fluffing his lines from six yards out, before May did, tapping in Michael West’s cross from even closer range.
A Bennett free-kick which sailed well over was Boro’s only effort of note in the second half. “I’ve got no complaints with the result,” Day reflected. “They were the better side and they were absolutely ruthless.”
BORO: Scriven, Moggins, Doyle (Treacher 84), Ball, Inns, Morrison-Derbyshire, Bennett, Laidler, Sykes, Lowe (French 71), Page (Cole 81). Subs not used: Bosch, Siaw.