HELLENIC LEAGUE: Bassett boss Roberts predicts big things

Jeff Roberts

Jeff Roberts

First published in Sport by

Wootton Bassett Town boss Jeff Roberts believes recent additions have strengthened his squad to such an extent that next season they can compete for Hellenic Premier Division honours.

Speaking after watching his side beat Shrivenham 2-1 in the local derby at Barrington Park on Saturday, he praised the performance of his side depleted by injuries.

“We had three out today,” he said. “With a number of others carrying knocks. It’s pleasing that players will do that for the team, but it can cause bigger problems in the future.”

New signing Mani Randhawa, who has joined from Swindon Supermarine, made his first start alongside midfielder Sam Ockwell in central defence, while Denis Sorrenti covered the left back position, vacant due to Adam Corcoran’s injury and Roberts was pleased with his makeshift back four.

“I was impressed with Mani today,” said Roberts. “He looked good, he looked calm and he’s a very good signing for us. We’ve put Ocky at the back for three or four games now and he’s done very well, Mani’s gone in there not fully fit.

“Denis has gone across to left back because Adam’s been out and he’s been outstanding for us. Shaun (Carter) was on the bench today because Mani wasn’t 100 per cent so, Shaun’s shoulder is still bad, but he said he’d sit on the bench and if we needed to put him on, we would have.”

Randhawa joins a squad that is not lacking in quality according to Roberts and his Southern League class is far from unparralled.

“We’ve probably got about five in there already that could play at Southern League level, so it’s a good squad we’re getting together.”

Bassett’s win, secured with the final touch of the game, extends their run of league games without defeat to eight games, last losing a league fixture in mid-November. Their run of festive form has relieved the pressure on Roberts, who took the reigns in the summer, and could have been forgiven for looking nervously over his shoulder at the relegation positions before Christmas. Town now sit 13th in the table, 15 points ahead of second bottom Abingdon United, with two games in hand.

“It’s another win today and that closes the gap with those ahead of us,” he said. “This year is more for consolidation and then next season might be our season.”

Roberts confirmed that tricky winger Callum Parsons has agreed to join the Rylands Way side from Hellenic League Division One West team Fairford Town and could feature when Flackwell Heath visit Wiltshire next Saturday.

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