Alton and Badshot Lea ready for the new football season

Friday 5th August 2022 6:00 am
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Gavin Smith is in confident mood before the new season
Gavin Smith is in confident mood before the new season (© Malcolm Wells 2015+ All rights reserved )

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Alton get their new season up and running tonight (Friday) when they play in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.

And although they will face new opposition in the league each week after being placed in the Combined Counties Premier South – alongside Farnham Town and Badshot Lea – they will kick off against a familiar name.

They make the short hop to Portsmouth to play Baffins Milton Rovers, who were alongside them in the Wessex League Premier Division last season.

And although the name is familiar, the players won’t be.

Alton manager Kev Adair said: “They have appointed a new manager and have made wholesale changes to their squad. We won’t know how they line up or how they will play, so it will new for us.

“They beat us 2-1 at our place in the league last season but we won 2-0 towards the end of the season, with goals in the 88th and 91st minutes.

“I’m pleased with our squad – we have had two notable outgoings but have brought in a few new faces.

“I know what team I want to field but haven’t been able to field that exact line-up in any of our pre-season friendlies because of players leaving, new players coming in, holidays and that kind of thing.

“But I’m really pleased how we are shaping up – you can always get stronger, and we are looking out for the right players.

“We will have four new faces in the side – we’ve brought in about seven new players overall, and still hope to bring a couple more in, but the bulk of the side will be players from last season, so they will know each other and how they play, so we’ll be quite settled.”

The match kicks off at Rovers’ ground in Eastern Road, Portsmouth, at 7.45pm.

Badshot Lea are also in FA Cup action, although they kick off at the more usual time of 3pm on Saturday (tomorrow).

They take on Wessex League Premier Division Brockenhurst at Wrecclesham.

Brockenhurst come to The Operatix Stadium on the back of a fine campaign last year. They reached the fifth round of the FA Vase, going out on penalties to eventual Wembley finalists Littlehampton Town, and enjoyed a sixth placed finish in their league.

But The Badgers arrive at Badshot Lea without their two prolific scorers of last season as Silvano Obeng – who notched 38 goals in all competitions last term – has moved on to Winchester City, while Christie Ward has been signed by Gareth Ainsworth to join his squad at Wycombe Wanderers.

The Baggies will be without talented Billy Upton, who this week signed for Isthmian League Basingstoke, and last year’s skipper Kane Fitzgerald, who is now at Farnham.

Co-manager Gavin Smith said: “We are really pleased for Billy – it’s a good move for him and he will do well there.

“We have lost some players but we have recruited well and the players who have come in have really impressed.

“We are not going to get much better defensively at our level than what we have now, and have brought in players like Harvey Griffiths and Dean Rule has come back.

“We will be a different side this season. I would still like a couple more players but we created and scored goals in our friendly against Egham, and last week we played and beat Spelthorne and were a lot better than them, and they are playing at our level.

“The players don’t know each others’ game yet and it may take a few games for them to know each other.

“We’re at home so we expect to do well and it would be nice to have a run in a cup this season – it’ll be good to be back out there playing again.”

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