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Crusaders hit by problems on and off the pitch

TEN days ago, everything was looking rosy for Hungerford Town.

They had just beaten rivals Bracknell Town to move into the Southern League South Premier play-off places and the side was playing well.

Then came an Easter Monday defeat at play-off rivals Merthyr Town, and with it claims that Crusaders defender Ramarni Medford-Smith had been racially abused.

Last Thursday, news broke that a special general meeting had been called to discuss a matter that could affect the future of the club, then on Saturday Town’s play-off hopes nosedived following the 1-0 defeat at Winchester.

So it’s fair to say that all at Bulpit Lane have had better weeks.

Yet manager Danny Robinson and stand-in chairman Cris Bowden are staying positive.

Bowden remained tight-lipped about the special meeting, which is being called ‘to discuss the recall of a personal loan to the club by the former chairman which threatens the future existence of Hungerford Town Football Club’.

He said: “I’m afraid I’m not in a position to talk about it before the meeting.

“It would not be fair on the parties involved.”

But Bowden did say he was hopeful that the matter could be resolved and planning for next season could begin.

And, despite seeing Crusaders’ play-off hopes hanging by a thread, Robinson is not giving up hope of clinching a top-five spot this season.

He said: “It makes it hard, but the fat lady hasn’t started singing yet.

“We have to win our last three games and hope that is enough. We can still do it and we still believe that we will.”

Hoever, even if Crusaders do pick up maximum points then that would only take them to 67 points.

And with Merthyr, Bracknell and Walton & Hersham also vying for the remaining play-off spot, that is unlikely to be enough.

Victory at Winchester would have been huge – unfortunately they failed to rise to the occasion.

Robinson said: “The last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my football career.

“We had put ourselves in such a good position, but our second-half performance at Winchester was our worst of the season.

“The supporters hired a coach and made it their big away day out, and they deserved better than they got.”

Hungerford had the better of the first half, but the game changed after the break when Sam De St Croix had to leave as his wife had gone into labour.

As for the club’s future, Robinson said: “There are some wonderful people at the football club who are all working hard to make sure everything is ok.

“A lot of them have been absolutely brilliant to keep things going.”

Robinson will turn his attention back to on-field issues on Saturday when Crusaders host fourth-placed AFC Totton – and now there’s absolutely no margin for error.

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