Sam will play it again for thrilled Cleeve boss Sykes
TALISMANIC defender Sam Avery has handed Bishop's Cleeve's battle for Southern League survival a timely boost by turning down a move to local rivals Evesham United.
Cleeve's Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West rivals put in seven days' notice of approach for the big centre-half last week and Avery discussed a move with Robins boss Paul West.
But long-serving Villager Avery has decided to remain with the club until the end of the season at least – much to the delight of boss Alex Sykes.
"I'm really pleased that Sam is saying. For us it shows that loyalty counts for something as he's been a bit of a talisman for us over the years," Sykes said.
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"Sam has got to be right up there with the players who has made the most appearances for the club in the Southern League at least.
"It shows that he's got a bit a faith in the club and, while we certainly don't want to stand in his way if he wanted to go higher, hopefully he will be with us for the rest of the season.
"He's been our stand-out performer so far this season and has developed massively in the last six months even, and we're delighted to have him on board for the rest of the season."
Cleeve will look to do something they have failed to manage for two months tonight – stage a home game.
And Sykes is urging as many supporters as can make it to come to Kayte Lane, watch his side take on Paulton Rovers (7.30pm) and help boost the club's on-field and off-field fortunes.
Without the income from a home crowd for eight weeks the coffers are in need of a boost, and with Cleeve still languishing at the bottom of the table matters on-field need livening up also.
A heartbreaking late defeat at Merthyr Town on Saturday saw Cleeve's recent run stretch to three consecutive defeats, and Sykes is desperate for a change in fortune.
"We would love to see as many people as we can turn out to see a good game of non-League football," Sykes said.
"It's been a difficult time for the club without the income from a home crowd for so long, and we also need to get back to winning ways on the field as well.
"We are a little bit despondent with the result at Merthyr, but we can only be encouraged by the performance again.
"We had all the plaudits at the end of the game from the Merthyr management, their chairman telling my chairman that we were a credit for the football we played and so on.
"But the way things are going at the moment means that these things keep going against us. We deserved something from the game.
"We would trade performances for results right now given the predicament we are in, but if we carry on playing as well as we are I'm sure the results will start to come."
Teen star Joe Parker, who bagged his first Cleeve goal at Merthyr, misses the game as he is on Hartpury College duty in the English Schools FA semi-final.
Assistant manager Matt Rose is ruled out through work commitments but forward Mike Tambling returns to the squad from an ankle injury.