PICTURE: FC Baylis United celebrate after winning the East Berkshire League Presidents Cup this season following a 3-1 win against Old Windsor Reserves in the Final at the 1878 Stadium in Burnham. PHOTO: Gary House.
FC Baylis United manager Haseeb Ishaq hopes that his team can use their win in the 2023 Presidents Cup as a springboard to push for promotion next season.
Baylis secured their first-ever senior trophy when beating Old Windsor Reserves 3-1 in the Presidents Cup Final at the 1878 Stadium in Burnham.
Salah Dami scored twice in the success, with Dami Famakin rounding off an impressive individual performance with the third goal. Haris Farooq provided the assist for all three efforts.
To lift the Presidents Cup is a special moment for Ishaq, who originally intended to be a playing member of the Club, and he has now challenged the side to improve their consistency next season and show they are capable of competing at the highest level.
The Baylis boss explained: “To break a record and be on the Honours List is amazing. We’ve never had anything like that before and we’re a brand new Club.
“We’re in a position now where we are hoping that we’ve put our name out there and people will know who we are. People were talking about us at the start to the season but, hopefully we’re now going to show really how good we are as a Club.
“I think my Club should be playing in the Premier Division. We show that on an inconsistent basis during the season and that’s our biggest problem. It’s such a young team and we’re all learning. Next season our plan is to go for the league, we have to go and win Division One and prove that we’re a Premier Division team. We need to prove that we should be playing against the likes of Britwell and Old Windsor first team on a weekly basis. We are good enough to be there and I hope that this is what will take us to that next level.
PHOTO: FC Baylis United star Salah Dami wheels away in celebration after scoring one of his two goals in the 3-1 win against Old Windsor Reserves in the Presidents Cup Final.
“It’s absolutely massive for me. I was supposed to be playing in this squad, I did not expect for it to be as big as it was, I didn’t expect to have as many good players as I did. I’ve never managed before, and to manage a group like this, they do make my life easier, but at the same time they keep me in line. I would not change it for the world and I hope this is going to help us, and myself, to win more trophies.”
Old Windsor Reserves had chances of their own but could only hit the back of the net through Alex Young, an equalising goal in the first half.
Ishaq admitted it would be hard to call Baylis the better side on the day but, he is confident his team were deserved of their Cup win. He said: “It’s massive, I can’t really describe it at the moment but, I’m really happy. I think that we deserved it, we got our just rewards if you like.
“In the first 45 minutes, we were really at it, we were in control of the game and created the better chances. Old Windsor were dangerous from their set pieces but I felt like we deserved to go into half time at 2-1.
VIDEO: FC Baylis United manager Haseeb Ishaq gives his reaction to winning the 2023 Presidents Cup this season.
“In the second half, we were playing on the counter a little bit and Old Windsor were really coming at us, threatening our goal and had some really good chances. We were always dangerous on the counter and got our third goal from a counter attack, and we were deserved winners as a whole.
“I think we were deserved of the victory but calling us the better side would be a difficult one overall. Old Windsor are a very good side. We managed them very well, we knew they were good on the long ball, and they were playing lots of long balls but, we let our football show how good we are. Our quality in the final third beat them and we deserved our three goals.
“Dami got his two goals and was a monster in that midfield, really bossed it and won lots of battles but, one thing about us is that it’s always a team performance. Dami was outstanding but we’ve got some really good players and it was a team performance.
PHOTO: FC Baylis United in full celebration when lifting the Presidents Cup trophy.
“It meant a lot. I said it to the boys in the changing rooms, from the day that we started the Club we was told that we can’t do this, that it’s not going to work, but we have come one hell of a long way. There’s still a long way to go but we are hoping that this is a springboard if you like to get us going.”
The Presidents Cup competition was not without controversy this season as the Management Committee ordered the Semi Finals tie between Baylis and Reading Tigers to be re-played. Baylis recovered from falling behind to win the tie 2-1 in extra time but, both teams were found to have breached competition rules. Baylis won the rearranged tie 5-1 at the Iver Heath Recreation Ground three days before the competition final, which Ishaq believes to have helped rather than hindered his team.
He explained: “In a strange way, I think that it really helped us. We won the match and we were the better side in that first Semi Final but, we didn’t put our chances away. When we were hit with the replay, it knocked us for six, especially as it was just a few days before the Cup final but, it really got us together as a Club. It got the boys really up for it and, in a weird way, we were still firing off the win in midweek in the final. We seem to have brought that momentum into the final. We did go through a lot but in a strange way somehow that managed helped us.
“No disrespect to Reading Tigers but I thought that we were the better side in both games. The 2-1 scoreline was not a fair reflection on that first Semi Final, we should probably have put the game to bed in the first half. Reading had their chance and they took it but, other than that I can’t remember other threatening chances for them.
“In the second match, it was pretty much the same thing, we were just up for it a little bit more. We felt like things went against us and that, potentially, we were going to be taken out of a final. We were really up for it in the second match and made sure that we put away any chances.
“Playing that match and getting those minutes into people’s legs, and being up for a final, sometime when you train it is not with the same intensity, it all helped us somehow.”
FC Baylis United have secured a mid-table finish (sixth or seventh place) in East Berkshire League Division One this season, winning seven of their 20 league matches.
To enter the East Berkshire Football League ahead of the 2023/24 season, or for further information about the league, or an entry form for the upcoming season, please email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org