Beavers’ Start A Dream
Seven clean sheets in the first eight games of the season, and joint top of the Isthmian League Premier Division table, not to mention still in the FA Cup. What a dream start to the season for Hampton & Richmond Borough!
Last season’s relegation from Conference South is now a distant memory, and a possible promotion campaign is on the horizon. I have to admit, I personally was not harbouring any expectations of a table-topping season. Indeed, I was just looking forward to seeing a decent level of football, and maybe seeing my team win more games than they lose. The start to the season, though, has exceeded all my, and probably most other Beavers’ fans, wildest hopes.
Striker Charlie Moone has been the star of the early season, scoring in each of his last five matches, and six in total for the season. There’s been a couple of crackers in there too! He is really stepping up to the plate to replace last season’s top scorer, Dave Tarpey, who left for Farnborough Town in the summer following relegation. The rest of the squad only have six between them, so they need to start getting themselves on the scoresheet too.
Manager Mark Harper has assembled an excellent squad over the summer, and the start to the season probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. There are more options in the squad all over the pitch, except in goal, where we have only one registered player, Rodney Chiweshe. Harper said that the decision was taken to allow an extra outfield player instead of paying a second keeper to sit on the bench. Can’t argue with that really!
In defence, we have Billy Jeffreys, Darren Powell, Max Hustwick, Neil Jenkins, Malvin Kamara, and Alan Bray to choose from. Both Powell and Kamara have league experience, both having played for multiple professional clubs, and Powell even playing in the Premier League. This strength in depth has prompted Harper to allow Dean Inman, a regular last season, to join Conference South side Farnborough Town on a ninety day loan, with a 24 hour recall option after the first twenty eight days. It’s a strange move, for a few reasons. Firstly, he’s gone on loan to a club in a higher division when he couldn’t get in the Hampton team. Secondly, Farnborough made an illegal approach for the player during the summer, agreeing terms without either party apparently realising that Inman was under contract at The Beveree Stadium. I’m not expecting him to be wearing the Hampton red again.
In midfield, the excellent James Simmonds has again been influential in the early stages of the season. The former Chelsea youngster joined the squad late due to work commitments, but has picked up where he left off last season, being involved in most of the good play produced. Youngster Tom Hickey has also become hugely important this term, but a red card in the last league match against Lowestoft Town will rob the team of his services for three games. Experienced non-league campaigner Gary Holloway rejoined the club after leaving eleven years ago, and has been pretty much a mainstay in the side since his return, adding some steel along with his experience. Add to that Mo Harkin, Karle Carder, Joe Turner and Anson Cousins, and again there are plenty of options for Harper.
It is in attack, however, where the squad is significantly stronger this season. Charlie Moone and Dave Tarpey were the only fit strikers for much of last season, whereas there are four quality frontmen to give Harper selection headaches this time around. Along with top scorer Moone, there are JJ Bates, Joe Benjamin and Elliott Bent for the manager to choose from. Bates, dubbed “the non-league Wayne Rooney”, joined in the summer after spending last season at Harrow Borough, where he top scored with fifteen goals. He has already netted a couple of times this season, and looks to be settling in well. Benjamin spent last season in the Conference South, with spells at both Chelmsford City and Tonbridge Angels. He scored a good goal against AFC Kempston Rovers in the FA Cup this season, and looks like he will add some much needed power and pace to the attack. Likewise, the pacey and skillful Elliott Bent is also looking a good prospect. While he hasn’t scored yet, he has come close on a few occasions, and I am sure he will score a fair few this season.
Currently, the team are on a three week break from league action due to FA Cup and Trophy ties, and will be hoping to have progressed on both fronts by the time Lewes rock up at The Beveree on October 9th.
Posted on September 28, 2012, in UTL Archive and tagged Charlie Moone, Dave Tarpey, Dean Inman, Hampton & Richmond Borough, Isthmian League, Isthmian Premier, James Simmonds, Mark Harper. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.