We expect a good crowd at Rusthall being a local derby, says Tunbridge Wells boss Jason Bourne
TUNBRIDGE WELLS manager Jason Bourne says he’s pleased with his squad’s fitness ahead of their opening pre-season game at Rusthall on Tuesday night.
The Wells finished in 14th place in the Southern Counties East Football League last season which was the club’s lowest placed finish for nine seasons, while Rusthall finished with only Lewisham Borough below them in the Kent Invicta League.
A crowd of at least 200 is expected at Jockey Farm Stadium to see the two local sides in action for the first time this season.
Rusthall joint-managers Steve Sands and Steve Ashmore take charge of the club for the first time.
“We’re looking forward to our first run out of pre-season against Rusthall,” said Bourne, who prepares for his first full season in charge of his home-town club.
“Firstly, it is a very well run club and has a lot of connections with Steve Ashmore taking charge and Joe Croker as chairman, who I massively respect.
“We expect a good crowd being a local derby and with the Tunbridge Wells supporters wanting to see how we are shaping up.”
Bourne has revealed that he will field two sides for the game, making wholesale changes at the half-time interval.
He said: “As it’s the first game we will get 45 minutes maximum in for everyone as the most important part of the exercise is to slowly build up our game time, making sure there are no injuries at this early stage.
“To be fair to the lads we asked them all to tick over after a few weeks off and they have. The quality and intensity has been a lot better than I expected. Our two coaches Barrie Pickett and Marcell Nimini have put on a really well structured pre-season, all slowly building up to the 6th August start date.
“We have a few away but we’ll have new signings Ollie Bankole, Connor Pring and Richard Atkins alongside the majority of last year’s squad on show.
“This year is also the start of our under 21 squad so there will also be plenty of them involved and looking to impress.
“I think we’ll see a few familiar faces tomorrow in Steve Ashmore’s side so should add a little extra to the occasion to.”
Ashmore says he’s looking forward to facing his former club in his first game in joint-charge of Rusthall.
He said: “We are really looking forward to the game on Tuesday night as it will be our first chance to have a look at the squad in a competitive game and how they work together.
“So far the players are looking strong and have responded well in the first two sessions.
“We have retained some of last year’s squad as well as signing seven or eight new players, which include the likes of Dan Powell (ex Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks Town), John Sinclair (ex Tunbridge Wells, East Grinstead and Crowborough) and Richard Cole (ex Tonbridge Angels).
“We are still looking to hopefully add one or two more as we'll have a couple coming back from long-term injuries.”
Admission prices for Tuesday’s game has been reduced to £3.
Visit Rusthall’s website: www.pitchero.com/clubs/rusthallfootballclub
Visit Tunbridge Wells’ website: www.tunbridgewellsfc.com
Rusthall v Tunbridge Wells
Tuesday 5th July 2016
Kick Off 7:30pm
At Jockey Stadium, Nellington Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells TN4 8SH