Bracknell Town manager Sam Lock has been busy building a squad for a second tilt at promotion from the Bostik League South Central Division One for the 2019/20 season.
The Robins finished second last season, reaching the final of the play offs – losing out to Cheshunt with largely the same side that won promotion from the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division the season before.
The Larges Lane side have seen a number of high profile departures since the end of the season including former player/manager Carl Davies, midfielder Jamie McClurg and strike duo Liam Ferdinand and Adam Cornell, although full back and captain Dave Hancock performed a u-turn to remain with the Robins.
Lock has endeavoured to add some higher level experience to his side but has been attempting to blend a mix of older and younger players.
Speaking to Football in Berkshire, he said: “I’ve tried to get the right blend of experienced and younger players. Walters, Price, Hennah, Bayliss and Minhas are all under 23. Experience from higher levels would be Browny, Sheridan.”
Lock said he’d been looking at younger players who had the potential to play higher, or who already had played higher.
He said: “I am not sure if we’ll be more experienced than last year as Matty Day, Ryan Parsons, Adam Cornell, Joel Jacobs, Carl Davies, Carl Withers, Jamie McClurg, all around their 30s have moved on.
“I’ve looked at the remit of younger players who have potential or play higher or who have already played higher.
“Budget is the same as last year so I’ve had no movement whatsoever there. Money is tight but I feel I’ve assembled a competitive squad and I’m still searching. Looking at 3 or 4 more players and I imagine they would all be closer to the 23 mark than 30.”
Football in Berkshire has had a look at the experiences of Lock’s new look Bracknell Town squad below:
Mark Scott – the former Slough Town glovesman has signed on for a second season with Bracknell after impressing in 2018/19. He was regularly called the division’s best goalkeeper and former boss Geoff Warner believed in Scott and Chris Grace that he had the two best goalkeepers in the South Central Division One.
The stopper – who played for Swindon Town, Salisbury and Oxford City before joining the Rebels – was number one for Slough over nearly three seasons in the Southern League Premier (step 3) before suffering a serious neck injury in 2017, making a return to first team football with Bracknell at the start of the 2018/19 season.
Dave Hancock – ‘Hanks’ is an experienced leader who has played much of his career at step 5 with Bracknell over two spells, either side of captaining Ascot United to the FA Vase Quarter Finals and lifted the 2015/16 Hellenic League Floodlit Cup.
Since then, Hancock took over the captaincy at Bracknell when Carl Davies was appointed player/manager, going on to lift the Hellenic League Challenge Cup.
Joe Gater – A Robins regular for the last season two seasons, Gater dropped down two levels to sign for the Robins from then Southern League Premier Division (step 3) side Basingstoke Town in the summer of 2017.
Gater has also played for Barnet and Chesham United, and featured in a goal of the season competition – an excellent video of which you watch below:
Robb Sheridan – In terms of winning mentality, centre back Sheridan ticked all the boxes for Sam Lock having joined the club off the back of a successful season for Dorking Wanderers who won promotion from the Bostik League Premier (step 3) to the Vanarama National League South.
At the time of Sheridan’s signing, Lock said: “Sheridan is a top centre half with bags of experience. He’s had three promotions in 4 seasons with Kingstonian and Dorking. Won the Bostik Premier with Dorking last season.”
Josh Hennah – Way back in August 2017 then Bracknell manager Mark Tallentire described Hennah as an exceptional talent having impressed on his full debut for the Robins.
He was a key player for Sandhurst Town the previous season as the Fizzers broke Maidenhead United’s domination of the Allied Counties Youth League and though he hasn’t featured much for Bracknell since, he certainly impressed fans at the time.
Ironically, Tallentire admitted in the Bracknell News he became aware of Hennah after going to watch a different player at Sandhurst. He said: “I remember going to watch a player who was playing in the same team as Josh and was mesmerised by him. He is a superb player.”
Dan Bayliss – Another player to switch North Hampshire for Berkshire over the last few seasons see’s former Flackwell Heath defender Bayliss join from Basingstoke Town.
It might not have been an ideal season for the Dragons who suffered relegation to step 4, but Bayliss has two seasons experience mixing it at step 3 to bring with him to Larges Lane.
Daniel Brown – The measure of a player can certainly be gauged by the social media reaction to them leaving a club, if they are mentioned at all. That Brown (like Bayliss above) was acknowledged by the club he was departing, let alone called ‘a true gentleman’ is obviously good to know, but what Robins fans will want to know far more keenly is ‘is he any good’?
The good news is that featuring 33 times for Beaconsfield, who finished the season in their highest ever league position in a first season at step 3 certainly bodes well for Bracknell – all that plus over a 100 appearances for Maidenhead United.
Harrison Bayley – An FA Vase winner in 2017 with Thatcham Town, Bayley was undeniably missed as injury ruled him out of the Robins Bostik League play off final with Cheshunt.
As well as popping up with the odd important goal – a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw with former club Hayes & Yeading United being one, the midfielder has leadership experience as a former captain of Highmoor IBIS and is highly thought of at Binfield despite only spending six months at Hill Farm Lane.
Kensley Maloney – A crowd favourite at Larges Lane, Maloney has gained valuable experience since breaking in to the Robins first team during the 2015/16 season and has regularly been called upon by successive managers to add a bit of spark and hard work to the Bracknell midfield.
Kensley made the squad for Slough Town in 2015/16 Southern League Premier Division campaign having impressed Neil Baker and Jon Underwood while playing for Burnham.
Seb Bowerman – A football clubs entire fan base let out a collective sigh of relief when then news broke that winger Bowerman had committed to another season at Larges Lane, albeit without his wing partner Joe Grant.
Bowerman’s value to the club is well known and we also know clubs higher up the pyramid have been keeping an eye as the Bracknell News revealed last season the youngster had turned down a move to eventual Bostik League Premier Division champions Dorking Wanderers.
Kai Walters – Lock described Walters as a player who deserved an opportunity when he signed from Ascot United. The midfielder certainly has pedigree having previously played at Luton Town and Wycombe Wanderer’s Acadamies and made 17 appearances for the Yellamen in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division last season.
Nathan Minhas – What else is there to say about Nathan Minhas that wasn’t noted down last season? Bags of goals for Ascot United at step 5 last season as well as goals on the international stage for Panjab in the CONIFA World Cup, Minhas caught the eye of National League South Billericay Town (step 2) where he moved to in January 2019.
He played twice for the Blues before finishing the season on loan at Bostik League Premier (step 3) Kingstonian. There was an obvious Maidenhead connection between Minhas and his new boss having also played under Aaron Steadman at Ascot and his arrival was one that the Robins manager had to work hard to get over the line – a move he called a massive statement.
Lee Barney – If you are going to lose the division’s top scorer, then you may as well sign the player who was runner up. That’s what Bracknell did when they brought in Hayes & Yeading United forward Lee Barney to replace Liam Ferdinand.
The striker could have made the step up with Hayes this summer after winning back to back promotions (the previous season it was with Beaconsfield Town) but he’ll be aiming to make it a hat trick with Bracknell having spent consecutive seasons at step 4.
Dan Price – The former Chertsey Town and Ascot United forward will be testing himself at step 4 having spent several years at step 5 and scored 10 goals for the Yellamen last season, including in the Challenge Cup final win over Windsor.