Lightbourne targets year of improvement
Kyle Lightbourne, the Robin Hood coach, has challenged his team to improve upon last season's fourth-place Premier Division finish after picking up several new players during the transfer window.
Although Hood have lost a number of young players to college commitments, such as midfielder Liam Evans, as well as forward Tevaughn Tyrell to English non-League side Ilkeston, Lightbourne is optimistic of another fruitful campaign.
Hood claimed their first piece of silverware last season — the Friendship Trophy — after Dandy Town, their opponents in the final, were stripped of the title having fielded an unlisted player.
“We want to show progress this season and become a more difficult side to beat,” Lightbourne said.
“We're optimistic we can build upon last season and if we can stay injury-free and avoid suspensions, I think we can compete fairly well in this league.
“Last season Dandy Town, Somerset Trojans and PHC Zebras were the only teams we didn't beat and they were the three sides that finished above us — that's a something we need to change.”
Among Hood's new captures are Donte Brangman and Shannon Coddington-Burchall, both from Southampton Rangers, and Nathan Peskett from relegated Flanagan's Onions.
Peskett was arguably Onions' top player during the past two seasons and Lightbourne has high hopes for the box-to-box midfielder.
“[Peskett] is a player we were desperately trying to get a hold of and we're hoping he will do well for us,” Lightbourne said.
“I'm pleased with the players we've picked up and we're hoping they will settle in quickly.”
Hood are unbeaten after three preseason games including a 6-0 victory over North Village at the weekend, but Lightbourne does not believe too much can be read into that encouraging result.
“I'm not too bothered about preseason results,” Lightbourne said. “We've got two more practice matches coming up this week and I'm primarily focused on our fitness. “We're just trying to prepare as best as possible and seeing if we can cause a few upsets. We've set a few targets this season but we have to be realistic because we don't have a really big squad.”
Lightbourne is hoping that Darren Reitze, the club captain, can make a full recovery from his knee injury and return to the heart of the Hood defence.
“Dazz had an operation last year and said he is going to try hard to get himself fit and then see where he is,” Lightbourne said. “That's where Dazz is at and I'm hoping that the team can hit the ground running when the season starts.”
Hood have lost four players from last season's squad, with Kashi Jones joining Village, Miles Brewer signing for Onions, Elijah Hassan moving to Hamilton Parish, and Dupray Joell leaving for PHC.