We’ll aim to play attractive football and finish considerably higher up the table than some may expect, says Welling Town boss Kevin Oakes

Thursday 28th July 2022

WELLING TOWN chairman/manager Kevin Oakes says he wants to make it a season to remember for the club this season.

The Boots finished in fourteenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division last season and kick-off their campaign with a trip to Rusthall on Saturday.

Jimmy Anderson’s side finished third-from-bottom on 24 points from their 38 games last season and were level on points with Lordswood, who maintained their league status despite finishing below the relegation line.

“We’re all very much looking forward to the league start on Saturday as we travel to Rusthall,” said Oakes, who has retuned to the dug-out this term.

“I am sure they will be looking to better last season’s league position, as will we, and it’ll be interesting to see how two much changed squads start out in the first few games.

“The facilities down there are very good and they get decent crowds so it should be a good atmosphere. It’s just a shame that two former Rusthall players in our ranks are both likely to be missing this weekend with Ryan Styles suspended and Josh Biddlecombe away.

“It was a good game last season with us racing into an early lead but to their credit, Rusthall fought back well and had us clinging on to one point.”

Oakes has high hopes for his club this season, as they bid to finish in their highest ever position, playing their home games in Chatham.

“The squad is looking vastly different to last year but the majority have played SCEFL Premier football or higher within the last 18 months or so and we’ll therefore expect to be able to achieve our ambitions if people perform to their standard,” added Oakes.

“Some have commented in pre-season that we have a relatively young squad and perhaps this is true but if you look at their experience, with some having done 75-100 games at Step Four, even though they are only 22 or 23, I think we’ve got a group that know what they are doing and what is needed at this level over a long season.”

Oakes has signed three players from Phoenix Sports in the shape of George Whitelock, Zak Bryon and Ollie Andrews.  Rob Brown and Dami Oni have been retained from last season’s squad, while Sam Bailey and Mo Alaka have joined from Lordswood and former Holmesdale man, John Foster, has been appointed captain.

“The league is sure to be as competitive as always and I don’t see any obvious winner at this stage, although there are clearly three or four who are spending big to make sure they are in the hunt, but as always there are bound to be some comings and goings over 10 months,” said Oakes, when asked about the league this season.

“I’m not a huge one for making predictions about us but we’re quietly confident in what we have in the group at the moment and if we perform consistently and to the level needed, then it could and should be the best season this club has had at this level.

“A cup run would be nice and our first ever FA Cup victory is long overdue, which will make next week’s trip to Sutton Athletic interesting.

“We’ll aim to play attractive football and finish considerably higher up the table than some may expect.  If we can do both and get off to a good start, well, who knows what might happen.”

Rusthall  v  Welling Town
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 30 July 2022
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Jockey Farm Stadium, Nellington Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SH