Last season may have been somewhat disappointing for Chatteris Town Reserves after finishing in the lower reaches of Cambridgeshire League 1B. However, an unbeaten pre-season that has provided entertaining football and goals aplenty, having netted 16 and conceding just four in four games, may be the early optimism that manager Benji Brittin would want heading into the 2016/17 campaign.
“We started off with sides who were handpicked and who we needed to play against and we got stronger as pre-season went on”, Brittin said. “That went exactly to plan because we could work with systems, setups and players’ weaknesses and strengths.”
And according to the Reserves boss, his side’s first game of the season against predicted title contenders Alconbury went according to plan as they managed to get off the mark with a 1-1 draw in poor conditions. Although not all players were available than he would have liked, there were still positive aspects to take.
“We lost 1-5 to Alconbury last year, so 1-1 is a massive result for us with the squad I had. I have still got four or five players to come in who are away on holidays and breaks and a couple of players who are injured are due to come back anytime soon, so strength-wise, we will get stronger.
“The main positive is we know what we need to work with. Joe (Waters) has been away on holiday and has missed three of the pre-season fixtures. New signing Paul Rowell, who is probably one of the best signings that our league has to offer, did not know our system. I would not say he looked lost, but he lacks fitness. Really, you could take that as a positive with fitness and once they get used to the system.
“I will take a point, but we could have won it, so I am very happy with that.”
Scoring goals was one of the key issues that needed improving since May, so with the return of ex-Doddington United frontman James Harness, there could be a sense of encouragement this time round for the second string, along with new additions in other areas.
“All the new boys gel well together. We are playing good football and obviously scoring a lot of goals is a bonus”, said Reserves captain Will Mason.
“James Harness coming in up-front has helped us as last year, we did not score enough goals, plus new midfielders and defenders. With the midfielders, we are now creating more chances and with the defenders, we have tightened things up at the back.”
And after facing a tough opponent, the skipper thinks this has got the team mentally and physically prepared for next week’s derby clash with March Town Reserves.
“I think it was a good point. They are a good side who are well-organised. I think it (the game) was an eye-opener to how this league is going to be; it is not going to be a walkover for us. It was a lot tougher than all of our pre-season games, but it is a good start.
“We did well for our first game together. The negative is obviously conceding the goal; we did not stay with our men. At times, we were sometimes watching the game, but overall, it was a good team performance.”
The signs for a successful and potentially memorable season are in place, but whether they can achieve it is another matter. The Reserve Team face the Hares’ second side at West Street this Saturday (3pm kick-off).