After a three month break football is back at Parkside when Blues entertain Brentwood Town on Saturday in a BetVictor Isthmian League North encounter marking manager Jim Cooper's first full season in charge. A ten match prematch programme predominantly against clubs from higher divisions allowed Cooper to assess the character of his squad and hone the fitness level in readiness for the start of the season. The probable combatants on show will feature four players who have moved between the clubs, Tony Stokes, Nathan Fox and Connor Martin arriving at Parkside, and Michael Toner moving to the Brentwood Arena where he has been installed as club captain.
Like the Blues Brentwood have seen a number of changes in personnel during the close season on and off the field with Ryan O' Rawe installed as first team manager. The new man has brought in some new and old faces amongst whom are Brendan Cavalier, Marcus Milner and goalkeeper Tim Brown. Compared to Blues they have played fewer friendlies with mixed results but as we all know preseason games are not the most accurate barometer to form, one thing is for sure Town will be raring to go in tomorrows opener eager to impress their new boss.
Jim Cooper and Paul Joynes have been very busy during the break rebuilding their squad. It is quite evident from the players coming in that Cooper quickly identified that the spine of the team needed strengthening. This is evidenced by the signing of keeper Danny Sambridge from Coggeshall Town, central defender Steve King who spent many years at Concord Rangers, Lewis Dark in central midfield and striker Tony Stokes. The squad now has a blend of youth and experience with 18 year old Jack McQueen at the back, the exciting Manny Ogurinde and Callum Taylor up front both of whom should benefit from the experience and guidance of Stokes. Ashley Miller, Rob Bartley are experienced defenders, and Nathan Fox a player with great potential. Connor Martin adds height in defence, Frankie Hessian- Harris, George Doyle are hardworking midfielders . The squad in addition to Ogurinde and Taylor includes a number of other youngsters including the Kayembe brothers, Karl and Warren and Tim Ogurinde brother of Manny.
Players remaining from last season are keeper Connor Pearce, Defender Macauley Joynes , Stan Muguo, Joao Carlos (closing in on 400 appearances for the club) , Denzel Adibiyi and finally Mitch Hahn fresh from captaining the Great Britain team to a gold medal at the Maccabi games in Budapest.
So, it's a new season a new squad which looks to have more quality and drive than in previous years and a management team looking for them to be competitive and compete for league honours.
Last season Blues ran out winners in both meeting winning 1-0 at the Arena and 3-1 at Parkside.