Progression the aim for East Preston boss Paine

Asa Nicholson has joined East Preston. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Asa Nicholson has joined East Preston. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Bob Paine wants East Preston Football Club to build on an impressive first season back in the Southern Combination League Premier Division.

Paine’s young squad managed a 13th-placed finish in 2017/18 on the back of promotion in the previous campaign.

East Preston have improved no end since former Worthing under-21 manager Paine took charge in the summer of 2016.

The club had no age-group teams when Paine arrived but he changed that and under-18 and under-21 teams are now running.

Tasked with achieving promotion in his first season in charge, Paine ensure the club returned to the SCFL Premier Division at the first attempt in the 2016/17 campaign.

Many of his young squad were playing at the highest level in their careers last term but they still managed to finish 13th.

An impressive close-season recruitment drive has seen a quintet of additions with experience playing at this level or higher added to the squad as they bid for a top-half spot.

Paine said: “Our aims for this season are to keep the progress from last season and finish in the top half of the table, obviously as high as possible, but a top-eight finish would be steady progression for us. All is good at the club as we look forward to a difficult first league match of the season at home to Eastbourne Town.”

Forward player Hayden Hunter is the only player to have departed, heading to Pagham, but five signings have added more quality and depth for Paine.

Versatile Lewis Jenkins has made the move from rivals Arundel, while former Mullets pair, goalkeeper James Fernandes and forward Asa Nicholson, have joined from Bostik League South East outfit Horsham.

Exciting young pair Lucas Pattenden (Littlehampton Town) and Scott Rafferty (Pagham) will make competition for places at East Preston huge.

Paine has been delighted with the club’s summer business and said: “I’m very pleased with the new additions to the club which will add more competition to the squad. I’m also delighted that all but one of the first-team squad have stayed loyal to the club and together with our new signings, will make the team stronger and more competitive this season.

“We also have a excellent crop of younger players who will be gaining experience in the under-23s and I’m sure they’ll get some first-team games as the season progresses.”

After the SCFL Premier Division curtain-raiser at home to Eastbourne Town on Saturday, East Preston travel to Horsham YMCA on Tuesday.

A busy opening week of the new season is capped as they welcome Combined Counties Premier Division outfit Balham for an FA Cup extra preliminary-round tie.