From cup agony to a possible promotion, it’s been a season of near misses for Chatteris Town Reserves.
Losing two cup finals and finishing nine points behind second spot may make head-coach Benji Brittin reminisce on what could have been.
Compared to the 2015/16 season, the second-string were five places better off in Mead Plant & Grab 1B after finishing eighth, perhaps showing signs of progress.
However, Brittin believes more can be achieved in the next campaign, with the added bonus of first-team assistant manager Sean McKay, who will step in as joint-manager at the start of the 2017/18 season.
“On the whole, I’m pleased with the season”, Brittin said.
“A cup final and a top four finish was our aim.
“I think we’ve surprised ourselves with what was achieved; two finals, a quarter-final and third place, wow! I want to better that next season.
“We won’t stop at just one possible trophy; we want all three, along with promotion.
“Bringing in Sean as joint-manager will be brilliant and we both can’t wait to get started.
“We have great expectations with what Sean and I have planned next season already.”
It hasn’t always been plain-sailing, with players having to switch teams, plus the regular worry of injuries and other absences.
Losing both finals in seven days was soul-destroying – Benji Brittin
Despite potential problems with inconsistency and misbalance within the team, these haven’t caused any major downfall to the Reserves’ trend of results, according to Brittin.
“Players stepping up or even down at times caused a problem balance-wise in setting the team up, but with that said, all involved have done brilliantly.
“We are what it says on the tin: Reserves.
“We support the first-team as and when and those who have done did the job well.
“Our squad was strong enough to cope with what was thrown at us.
“In all, I’m very pleased and would like to thank everyone who played for me when asked.”
Even though there wasn’t a damaging plummet in form or possibly performances, there was one time that Brittin thinks could have changed the end-of-season outcome for his side, particularly in the league.
“Up to the finals, we were buzzing, but losing both in seven days was soul-destroying”, Brittin added.
“Sitting them down and getting them believing in themselves again was the key.
“Once we did that, our run spoke for itself and I’m very proud of them.”
The Reserve Team were red-hot in front of goal, averaging over two a game in all competitions, scoring four or more in a single match on 13 occasions.
Defensively, it’s been a different story, having kept just seven clean sheets all season, but this hasn’t dampened the head-coach’s praise for his numerous goalkeepers.
“Goalkeepers have been a problem this season.
“We’ve used a total of five ‘keepers this season, all have been fantastic.
“Jordan, Matthijs, Ryan, Ben and Ed have all done brilliantly.
“Goals came from everywhere, which is good.
“We are planning working with individuals and improving their game and we are lucky to have great coaches at the club now, willing to help and progress players.”
Progress has been there to admire, particularly at West Street, which acted like a fortress having lost just once there all season, and on the road, only six defeats in 16 fixtures were accumulated.
There are great times ahead and silverware is a must – Benji Brittin
Even so, there still could have been further improvement from Brittin’s men.
“West Street has been a great place to be this season”, Brittin said.
“To be honest, our away performances could and should have been better.
“Vital points were dropped and we made sure we learned from those losses and put the results right in the return leg.
“Injuries and a lack of players in certain games didn’t help, but we learnt from these issues.”
With high hopes for success and targets to overcome missed chances at glory, Chatteris Town Reserves’ search for supremacy looks to begin early.
Plans to build on eight months of promise and heartbreak are already in the making as Benji Brittin looks to make the second-string’s quest for stardom a reality come next year.
“A huge learning curve has been taken on board by myself”, he said.
“I’ve learned a lot and will use this to take the team forward.”
“Our aims for next season are keeping the team together and bringing in a couple more players to strengthen the squad and push for promotion.
“Having Sean as joint-manager will make this happen.
“A good pre-season is planned and there’s always room for improvement on and off the field with the players.
“The league is important next year and finishing third must make us favourites.
“There are great times ahead and silverware is a must.
“The 2017/18 season is going to be the Reserves’ season to remember.”