New Whitchurch United boss Carl Bennett has been busy building his squad for the new Wessex League Premier Division season and with the first league game now known as well as all the various cup draws the tempo will now start to rise.
Frustratingly the FA Cup extra-preliminary round draw has once again pitted the Jam Boys with Bristol-based Western League Premier Division side Hallen, who beat them in both the FA Cup after a replay and the FA Vase last season.
Bennett said of the draw: “We must prepare properly as this is a big game and we will not take it lightly as there is money involved plus the chance to pit ourselves against a Southern League side in the next round.”
Whitchurch will go to Swindon Supermarine in the preliminary round if they get past Hallen while in the FA Vase they have been drawn away to another North Bristol Western League side, Almondsbury UWE.
Yet another Western League team awaits the winners as Chippenham Park FC have home advantage in the second qualifying round.
Almondsbury UWE have no connection with the ex-Southern League Almondsbury Town, who as Almondsbury Greenway got to the Vase final in 1979, losing to Billericay while Chippenham Park came from the Wiltshire League and play at Hardenhuish, home of Chippenham Town.
Whitchurch’s luck was better in the Hampshire Senior Cup as they are home to Combined Counties League Alton Town in the first round on September 2 with the prospect of a juicy derby at the Portway Stadium against Andover Town in the second round on Sept 16.
It all kicks off on August 2 as the side begin their league campaign at Fareham Town.
Bennett’s squad was further increased this week as former Southampton Academy keeper Brad Snelling signed.
The 20 year old is also a useful outfield player and Bennett describes him as ‘one of the best three keepers in the league.’ Also on board is defender Josh Green, who was at Romsey Town last year having been at Eastleigh while Elliott Parker is another defender who has returned to the area from university in Plymouth and ‘looks sharp in training.’ Tom Lockyer, Shane Lock and Scott Hassell are all back for another season while 21-year old midfielder Jack Garner and ex-Sholing striker Ryan Lambert are also on board.
On the minus side last year’s skipper Ali Brown has joined Hartley Wintney.
United’s friendlies begin tomorrow at Hampshire League Otterbourne, who beat Andover Town in the Andover Open Cup Final in May before a game with Hamble Club next Tuesday night at 6.30pm.
Saturday July 19 sees the squad at Hampshire League Division One Lyndhurst and the only other game pencilled in so far is on July 29 at home to Western League Gillingham Town.
Bennett is looking for away fixtures on Tuesday 22 and Saturday 26 July to complete the preparations.