Farnham Town manager Paul Johnson is delighted with how his side are shaping up ahead of the new season.
Dean Rule – who fired Badshot Lea to promotion last season – gave Town the lead in the tenth minute when his calm finish went in off the inside of the post, before Chertsey’s Scott Day equalised on 39 minutes with a fine strike from distance.
The Curfews took the lead in the 67th minute following a goalmouth scramble from a corner, but substitute Shamal Edwards – who has suffered an injury-hit pre-season – confidently finished from close range on 86 minutes to earn Farnham a draw.
New signing Charlie Postance – who scored 33 goals for Abbey Rangers last season – nearly scored a late winner, but his header was well saved.
And Johnson is delighted with how his side are coming together ahead of the season.
“I’ve been pleased with all of them,” said Johnson. “As pre-season goes on the boys are getting fitter and stronger.
“We competed constantly against a Chertsey team I’m sure have expectations of being a top six Step 4 side.
“We more than matched them – I thought we were the better side.
“Their first goal was an unbelievable shot. The second goal was a bit sloppy from a set piece – it came at a time when we made lots of changes. That was a little bit disappointing, but overall I don’t think Pat Nash has really made a save.
“He had one down his throat which was straightforward.
“Dean took his goal well. He’s only just recently come in but he’s another great addition. He knows a few of the boys anyway, so he’s slotted into the group perfectly.
“Shams literally hadn’t trained. He wanted ten to 15 minutes and I said we’ll give it to him and see how he feels.
“He’s come on and scored – straight away he was a threat.
“He was looking to run in behind, which is something we haven’t got loads of. He caused them problems and came on to the ball well for the goal.
“Charlie was then denied by a great save at the end.”
Johnson has continued to be busy adding to his squad, with the recent capture of Rule from the Baggies and the signing of former AFC Wimbledon and Cambridge United midfielder Ricky Wellard.
Wellard played in the Football League for the Dons, and has also played for Salisbury City, Sutton United and Welling United. He has previously played under Johnson and assistant manager Jimmy Hibburt at Bedfont Sports.
Johnson is happy with the options at his disposal, although admits he will have a few difficult selection decisions to make this season.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “The boys have given me a few headaches. We’ve got a squad of 18, so there’s going to come a stage where a couple have got to miss out. It’s a good problem, but a little bit harsh.
“They’re great decisions you have to make – or you’ve got the choice of making – but they’re also not good ones because they’re all good lads.
“We’ve got good options all over, and they all slot in.
“There’s a lot of games coming up but we’ve got quality all over. I think they accept that anyone could play – they’ve just got to come on, do their bit and make an impact. They all know that.
“I think we’ve covered every base. It’s just trying to keep them happy and making sure they get enough game time.”
The countdown is now well and truly on to the season, with Town starting with a trip to Harefield United in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday, August 5 (3pm) before starting their Combined Counties Premier Division South campaign at Balham on August 12 (3pm).
“We’ve got the FA Cup game first – which will be good,” said Johnson. “We then go to Balham, which is good to get out of the way early before people find their stride because they’re a good passing side.
“We’ve got a friendly on Saturday and then we’re in for training once a week after that. We continue to focus on the next game, build on the fitness, build on the patterns and build on relationships to make sure we’re ready. I think we’re in a good place.”
Farnham are expected to push hard for promotion this season, and Johnson is looking forward to the challenge.
“Embrace it, enjoy it and hopefully the ride takes us to where we want to go,” he said. “It could be a really good season.”