Welfare squad depth key as winter sets in

Danny Pownell (left) gives chase against Blaby & Whetstone on Saturday. Photo by Lizzi Lathrop.
Danny Pownell (left) gives chase against Blaby & Whetstone on Saturday. Photo by Lizzi Lathrop.
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Kimberley Miners Welfare boss Paul Rawden says the necessity for good squad depth is starting to come to the fore at the Stag Ground as the tough winter months arrive.

Several injuries have disrupted Welfare’s good start to the season, although they remain in the top five of the East Midlands Counties League and are still unbeaten at home.

But with skipper Martin Lench expected to be out until after Christmas and other key players also on the injury list, Rawden is having to continue recruiting new players in an attempt to keep his side flying high.

He said: “We had a great start and I guess we were always likely to hit a sticky patch at some point, particularly once injuries inevitably started to take effect.

“We’ve lost influential players for a good few weeks and with limited resources it’s hard to replace them quickly. It can then be like starting over again when it comes to gelling the team together.

“It’s difficult but we’re still in the area we want to be in what is a very tight league, and of our 15 games so far I think nine or ten have been against sides in the top nine of the division so we’re holding up really well.

“Our primary target remains to qualify for the FA Cup and that is well within range at this stage.”

Rawden admitted that Welfare’s start to life at step six of the pyramid has taken many people by surprise given pre-season expectations, but that he wants the standards set so far to be maintained.

He added: “I think it’s been a bit overwhelming for some here given that before the season started the chairman was keen for us just to be competitive and stay up, which is obviously still the first aim - I reckon we’re just two wins away from safety!

“This is a long-term project and it’s hard to come straight into the pyramid and start winning leagues, especially with sides in this division paying out decent money to their players which we can’t do at this stage, but we’ve started well and it’s something to build on.”

Rawden has added experienced striker Jermaine Gordon, 34, to his squad this week, a player who has won the EMCL with Oadby Town in the past, whilst midfielders Jordan Whitehead and Danny Gee have also signed having both been at Gedling Miners Welfare, to help cover the loss of Lench.

Rawden said: “We needed a big target man and Jermaine fits that bill, whilst Jordan has played for me before and along with Danny Gee will be another great addition.”