The Shots return to The Beveree tomorrow afternoon for their third pre-season friendly of the summer against Ryman Premier League Champions, Hampton and Richmond Borough.
The Beavers won the Ryman Premier Division title with 95 points, one ahead of Bognor Regis Town, and now return to National League South after an absence of four years. They began their own pre-season campaign last weekend, in the Geoff Harvey & Jimmy Hill Memorial Tournament, but it was very much a weekend of two halves for Alan Dowson’s side.
Dowson’s first-choice XI beat Tonbridge Angels 4-0 in Saturday’s semi-final, but a team of triallists lost Sunday’s final 4-2 to Hayes and Yeading, and the manager told the Richmond and Twickenham Times: “I was delighted with our performance on Saturday but we were rubbish on Sunday and I don’t know why they bothered really. There were a lot of people on trial who had sent in their CV saying they had been at Chelsea and this, that and the other. Well I can tell you now, the only way some of them have been at Chelsea is by buying a ticket to sit and watch from the stands.”
Signings already made for the new season include Woking’s Giuseppe Sole, ex-AFC Wimbledon striker Christian Jolley, former West Ham United defender Callum McNaughton (sent-off in the Shots’ League Cup victory at Upton Park in 2011), Hemel Hempstead Town’s French centre-half Moussa Diarra, and two other former Woking players in goalkeeper Aaron Howe and defender Jay Gasson.
Dowson – who signed a new two year deal himself in May – has also retained eight of last season’s squad, including 18 goal top scorer Nicke Kabamba and fellow striker Jamal Lowe, who are both attracting interest from other clubs, and former Shots Academy midfielder Josh Casey.
Following promotion to National League South, Dowson set about laying the foundations for long-term success at The Beveree, saying of his own extended contract: “It’ll give me the chance to build the club up and I think there’s a good chance we’ll do well in this coming season. We might be in this league for a little while and I want to build this club from the bottom. We are a village club that has done well. It might be a struggle for a couple of years, but hopefully we’ll then be in a position to challenge at the top.”
“The players have applied themselves very very well, their attitude has been spot-on,” revealed Shots boss Gary Waddock of this week’s training. “It’s been another demanding week and we’re going into the game with players who have put in a lot of work. And the work that we’ve done this week we now put into practice in a match situation. But with the demands we place upon players during the week, with double sessions, means that you’re going to get indifferent performances and results.”
Shots fans are reminded that, due to maintenance work on the Fulwell Tunnel, Hampton Train Station will be closed this Saturday. A replacement bus service will be available from Teddington to Hampton – for full details, visit www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Admission for the game, which kicks-off at 3pm, is £7 for adults and £5 for concessions, with Under 16s costing £1 and children under five admitted free. Postcode for the stadium, located on Beaver Close, off Station Road in Hampton, is TW12 2BX.