Promotion talk in air as Pagham plan big year

Mark Bennett and Richie Hellen / Picture by Roger Smith
Mark Bennett and Richie Hellen / Picture by Roger Smith

Pagham boss Mark Bennett wants to build on his positive first few months in charge of the Lions.

Bennett, who took charge in January following the sacking of Jon Tucker, guided his new side to 12 victories in his 16 Southern Combination League premier-division matches in charge and a sixth-place finish.

The Pagham boss felt that was good going following difficulties faced when he got to the club. Player unavailability and little to fight for in the closing stages meant it was tricky to motivate his side. But the emergence of several youth-team players in the final few matches has given Bennett something to build on heading into the new season.

He said: “I think it was quite a good finish to the season considering the place we were in when I took over. A lot of players were unavailable, so that resulted in some younger guys getting a go.

“Those who stepped up did the club proud and have given me some really hope for the new season. Instead of needing to bring in 15 players, those who impressed will get a chance here now.

“Obviously you can’t ask them to play 50-odd games a season but they’ll be given a good run in the team.”

I think everyone’s aim at the start of the season is to be promoted. We just want to be competitive first and foremost then see where that takes us.

Mark Bennett

Bennett is looking forward to his first full season in charge since winning the league title with Littlehampton Town.

A brief break from the game meant he was without a side last summer but this time around he can’t wait for pre-season to start.

Pagham have not been shy in admitting their aims to become a Ryman League side in the near future and Bennett is hoping he can be the man to lead them to promotion.

He added: “I think everyone’s aim at the start of the season is to be promoted. We just want to be competitive first and foremost then see where that takes us.

“It would be great to get this club promoted and that is what the board want too but we’ll just take it as it comes.”

Bennett revealed positive talks with several players could well see them join Pagham’s promotion push later this summer.

Chichester City’s Ruben French is set to be one of them.

He said: “I’ve had chats with four players and they have said they will come and join me. I don’t want to give names yet as nothing can be signed just yet.”

LEWIS MASON

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