Bosham boss Andy Probee is in positive spirits ahead of the season as the Robins go in the hunt for more silverware.
The long-serving player – boss since November 2013 – has been buoyed by retaining all bar one of last season’s Division Three Cup-winning squad, and is looking for an improvement in the league, as well as harbouring ambition to retain the cup and have a good run in the Sussex Intermediate.
We’re expecting the new teams to be strong, but one thing we do have is the experience.Andy Probee
“We started very well last year having just won promotion, but lost some key games towards the end at Sidlesham, Langney and Southwick with players being out for one reason or another, and that cost us,” Probee said.
“It should be an interesting season with new clubs coming in – our aim is to challenge again in the league, and have good cup runs, particularly the Sussex Intermediate Cup, which is one we’ve never won.”
The newly-formed Southern Combination League division two is set to throw up unknown quantities in the shape of Alfold, AFC Roffey, Montpellier Villa and AFC Varndeanians – who Bosham face a trip to when the season gets under way on August 22.
The game is being played at Brighton University’s 3G surface with Varndeanians’ Withdean Stadium unavailable until September.
The Robins will be clocking up the miles early on, travelling to Westfield near Hastings on August 29 before a visit to Alford on Bank Holiday Monday, August 31 – a combined round trip of 288 miles.
Meanwhile acquaintances will also be renewed with the likes of Rustington and Westfield, with Upper Beeding and Cowfold more recent opponents when in the West Sussex Premier two years ago.
“We’re expecting the new teams to be strong, but one thing we do have is the experience,” Probee added. “We have players who know the division and standard – if you look at our defence, the likes of Ben Blanshard, Nick Edgington and myself.
“Then you think about the likes of James Wilson and Matt Docherty who are strong in the middle; Marco Giambelardini is a handful for any defence, and Dave Storey is a proven goalscorer at this level.”
The Walton Lane outfit will look to kick this season off on a similar high to the way in which they ended the last, when they beat Sidlesham to lift the Division Three Cup for the third time.
Probee, assistant Neil Redman and head coach Grahame Vick have been running well-attended training sessions every Tuesday and Thursday evening at the cricket club on Delling Lane. They’ll move to the 3G pitch at Baker Barracks on Thorney Island when the nights start to draw in – with new players welcome.
Bosham opened pre-season with a 4-1 reverse at Sids in a game where they missed the likes of Adam Brett, captain Wilson and last season’s top goalscorer Storey - but despite the result there was cause for optimism as the visitors missed some gilt-edged chances in the first half before Sids’ extra depth in the second told.
Bosham have also faced an Army XI, Chichester City’s development squad and Hayling United.
Goalkeeper Kieran Magee – who saved a penalty in the Sidlesham friendly – will give last season’s regular custodian, Simon Hasted, good competition between the sticks.
Kieran Carter joins reserve boss Frank Antony at Hayling United.
With Antony opting to take charge of the Hampshire League side’s reserve team, Bosham’s second string will this season be managed by experienced midfielder Danny Mullen.
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