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Rudderless Southampton Rangers suffer player exodus

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Less than a year after shocking league champions North Village 4-0 to win the Charity Cup, Southampton Rangers have lost 16 players ahead of the new football season (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The new football season is still at least six weeks away but already Southampton Rangers are preparing for a battle for survival in the Premier Division after an exodus of players.

Jomar Wilkinson’s resignation as Southampton Rangers coach has been followed by 16 players leaving the club during the recent transfer period, with four joining him at Somerset Trojans (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Chanjiv Simons, the Rangers president, confirmed yesterday that 16 players have obtained transfers from the club, influenced by a combination of the departure of coach Jomar Wilkinson to Somerset Trojans in May and the delay in appointing a new coach leading up to the transfer deadline just before Cup Match.

Tomiko Goater, right, will be back in the gold and brown of Dandy Town next season after three seasons at Robin Hood (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Simons revealed that the club is in talks with a coach but that the appointment has not been finalised. “It’s unofficial so I don’t want to put that out there yet,” Simons said about the identity of the coach, a former top player.

“Jomar left to go to Somerset and there was a bit of confusion with us trying to find a new coach which put a strain on our players. We were in talks with a coach but that fell through right before the deadline and that meant that all our players were uncertain going into the season and not having a coach before the deadline.

“That caused a mass exodus and since then we’ve been trying to get a coach on board.”

Rangers, who were promoted under Wilkinson in 2018-19, have lost the bulk of last year’s team, including Donte Brangman and Damon Ming to the Trojans and Jarazinho Bassett, who has reportedly returned to St George’s.

When last season was halted in December, Rangers were eighth, two places above the relegation zone with two wins and two draws from eight matches. They started the campaign off with a shock 4-0 win over North Village, the league champions, in the Charity Cup.

Rangers had won the Friendship Trophy the previous season, beating Devonshire Cougars 1-0 in the final. Now they are faced with rebuilding their programme as Simons admits survival will be the club’s priority in the 2021-22.

“Most of our starting line-up is all gone with the exception of McQuinn Burch, Dion Stovell and Jason Smith,” Simons said.

All three rejoined the club when Paget dropped out of the league in 2019 after relegation.

“We’re focusing on our youth programme, talent coming up through the ranks,” Simons said. “I think we’re going to be all right.

“About four players went to Somerset to follow Jomar … Donte and Marquel Tankard, and the rest split up and went other places. We also lost three or four players to PHC.

“A lot of those players who left weren’t home-grown Rangers players anyway. In the last three seasons, we’ve probably had the most players transfer to us from other clubs.

“We’ve still got most of our home-grown players and we should still be competitive. The main goal this season is survival.

“Had we had the coaching thing sorted we would not have lost not one of our players. None of my players wanted to go anywhere; it was just because of the uncertainty.

“I would commend them for giving me up to the transfer deadline to get it all sorted, but things fell through right at the deadline. I have no doubt that as long as we survive we will have all those players back next season.”

Robin Hood, who were the unbeaten league leaders and favourites to land a second league title when the 2020-21 season ended prematurely because of the Covid pandemic, are also understood to have lost several players during the recent transfer period.

Tomiko Goater and Dominique Williams are believed to be returning to Dandy Town while veteran Antwan Russell is heading to PHC and midfielder Justin Corday is reportedly going back to the Trojans after two seasons away.

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Published August 05, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated August 05, 2021 at 7:50 am)

Rudderless Southampton Rangers suffer player exodus

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