Promotion the aim as Bateman looks to hit the ground running

Steve Bateman
Steve Bateman

Steve Bateman wants his Aylesbury FC side to hit the ground running when they kick-off their Southern League campaign at home to Egham Town this weekend.

The Moles finished a positive pre-season campaign with a 4-0 win over Berkhamsted at the weekend with the goals coming from Brian Haule, new boy Grant Fryer and a Jamie Rudd brace.

Aylesbury FC new boy Johnnie Montgomery

Aylesbury FC new boy Johnnie Montgomery

Now the real test begins with FC’s first Division One Central encounter to be played against Egham at Haywood Way this Saturday.

And Bateman is confident of another successful campaign as he looks to go one step further than last year when the Moles suffered heartbreak in the play-off semi-finals.

He said: “It’s always has been about August 8 and we expect a difficult start against Egham. Like everyone else they’ll start with high hopes of their own and looking to improve on the last year.

“You tend to find in those two of three games of the season the adrenaline is flowing and it can get in the way of what settles down 10 or so games in when a pattern forms, but we’ll be looking to hit the ground running and nailing points on the board which we didn’t do as well as I’d have liked last season.

“The early part of the season is about getting our heads down, working hard and building a platform for the rest of the season.

“I’ve been pleased with the way pre-season has gone.

“Pre-season is about getting everybody fit and organised and getting the new recruits familiarised with their new team-mates and how the club operates. On those fronts I’ve been really pleased with how it’s developed to the point where I’ve still got one or two tough decisions to make this week as I look to finalise the squad.”

On top of Lamar Simpson, Johnnie Montgomery and Terry Dixon, Bateman has also brought in left-sided midfielder James Dobson as well as centre-back Grant Fryer, who spent much of last season at AFC Dunstable.

“James is a lad I’ve been tracking for a while,” added Bateman. “He’s won the division with Burnham and been promoted with Slough through the play-offs so for a young lad he’s experienced at getting out of the division and hopefully that’ll rub off on some of the lads around him.

“He’s a left-sided midfield player and can also play at left-back if needed but I’ll be looking to use him in a more attacking role.

“Grant played for Dunstable last season and he gives us some additional options in defence. It’s not been a priority but I’m pleased that the kind of individual I was looking out for has fallen into our laps.

“It’s shaping up well. I’ve still got one or two decisions to make so that’s not necessarily the end of our additions. At the moment we’re just taking time to reflect on it.”

Promotion is again the aim for Bateman, especially after coming so close last season, and the Aylesbury boss is confident his squad are capable of challenging for top honours.

He added: “Promotion has to be the aim. I’ve been scratching my head all summer trying to work out why we came up just short last season and that tells you that you don’t need major overhaul.

“I wanted to keep Bradley Wadkins but he’s gone up a level which I can’t argue with, but we’ve freshened things up and we’re confident we can build on the success of last season.

“There wasn’t a lot lacking last season – we scored plenty of goals from lots of different areas and I see that potential again, and we haven’t changed the back four at all really apart from bringing in Grant and James who have come with the intention of playing regularly.

“I’m pleased with how we’ve shaped up and worked in pre-season and now it’s time to get going.

“There’s lots of positive things going on off the pitch at the club so we’ve got to get our heads down and work hard and I’m sure if we do that we’ve got enough capability and ability within the group to have another successful season.”