After two seasons in the Hellenic League Sandhurst Town are back preparing for the season in the Combined Counties League under new manager Michael Herbert.
The Fizzers made year on year improvement in the Hellenic under Luke Turkington, finishing fourth last season with the leagues top goalscorer in Charlie Oakley – who won the same award the previous season with Woodley United.
Fire power was previous manager Turkington’s pressing issue last pre season and after adding Oakley and his 26 league goals the Fizzers ended the season as the divisions highest goalscorers.
Turkington said at the time: “We made the chances to score last year, but weren’t able to convert them into goals. But there’s always room for improvement all over the park so that’s what we intend to do this season.”
Now though, Oakley’s former boss at Woodley – Herbert, is in charge at Bottom Meadow after Turkington departed to Farnham Town and there are a number of familiar faces in the squad with title winning pedigree – though they’ll have to do it over a longer period of time with six more teams in the Combined Counties League Division 1.
As well as Charlie Oakley’s continued presence at Bottom Meadow, the Fizzers have retained captain Harry Oakley and fellow midfielder Adam Barnard.
‘Barney’ was one of a number of former Finchampstead players who joined the club last summer following the enforced relegation of Finch to the Thames Valley Premier League and defender Sam Green will join him again in what will undoubtedly be a promotion push.
Herbert has wasted no time in raiding his contacts book with a number of former Woodley United players heading across to Sandhurst. Most of the former Kestrels now come with Hellenic League Premier Division experience and include attacking winger Josh Drew (pictured top) and full back Luke Turner.
The pair were influential in Woodley’s title winning season and were largely the reason the Kestrels lifted the 2016/17 Berks & Bucks County Intermediate Cup – Turner putting his body on the line to save a goal bound shot and Drew scoring the winning goal at Larges Lane.
Drew (pictured top) of course was 50 per cent responsible for ‘that’ Justin Bieber half time story which will almost certainly never be bettered on these pages.
Elsewhere Herbert has secured some impressive signings from Hellenic League clubs with former AFC Aldermaston full back Richard Jones signing up and Holyport’s 19-goal forward Paul Rake joining the club as well as Joe Barley and Ashley Ledger.
Focus on youth
Sandhurst have signed a host of their Allied Counties Youth League side on Hellenic League forms with under 18 player of the season Ieuan Dimech, under 18s top goalscorer Jamie Barrett and defender Lewis Wells all joining the first team squad.
The Fizzers youth team have been placed in Allied Counties Youth League Central Division with neighbours Ascot United, Binfield and Bracknell Town.
Main image: Josh Drew by Sandhurst Town FC.