Eight new signings so far as new Baffins Milton Rovers boss Danny Thompson plugs holes left by summer exodus

Baffins Milton Rovers boss Danny Thompson has acted quickly to plug the many holes left in his squad following a summer exodus.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 12:08 pm
New Baffins Milton Rovers striker Kelvin Robinson, right, pictured in action for Fleetlands last season.

Picture: Keith Woodland
New Baffins Milton Rovers striker Kelvin Robinson, right, pictured in action for Fleetlands last season. Picture: Keith Woodland

Thompson has been forced to embark on a rebuilding programme in the weeks after being appointed as Shaun Wilkinson’s PMC Stadium successor.

From last season’s squad, he has lost eight faces to fellow Wessex League Premier Division clubs - skipper James Cowen, top scorer Rudi Blankson, Lee Molyneaux, Tommy Scutt, Harry Sargeant, Charlie Williamson, Ethan Gee and Tommy Patterson.

‘That’s football, it was always going to happen - and especially when a manager leaves,’ said Thompson, who had been Wilkinson’s assistant.

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New faces so far are Kelvin Robinson, Rob Evans, Frankie Paige, Ryan Kennedy, Joe Johnson, Brad Gale, Charlie Oakwell-Boulton and Roux Hardcastle.

George Burgess has been tempted back to Baffins after moving to Horndean last season, while Miles Everett (Chichester City), Blu Boam and Dale Mason (both US Portsmouth) have returned after spells elsewhere.

Thompson has also signed on a handful of last season’s Hampshire Development Under-18 East division champions, who will form part of a new Baffins reserve team playing in the Hampshire Combination Premier.

The boss is particularly excited about landing Robinson, who scored 30 goals across the Wessex and Hampshire Premier Leagues last season.

The Gosport-based striker ended as the HPL top flight’s leading marksman in terms of league goals, despite only playing 13 times for Fleetlands - during which he struck 19 times.

Robinson - a former Fareham Town reserve regular - also scored 11 league and cup goals for Baffins’ Wessex Premier rivals Hamble Club.

SEE MORE: Down memory lane – 27 Portsmouth area youth football team pictures, 2009-2010‘I’ve been keeping tabs on Kelvin for a while,’ said Thompson. ‘He’s similar to Jason Parish - he’s big, tall, strong, he’s got a bit of pace, he holds the ball up well, and he’s got an eye for goal.’

Johnson is another forward option, having scored 11 goals in 37 appearances for US Portsmouth - no-one scored more for the club - in 2021/22 following his switch from AFC Portchester.

‘Rob can play right-back, he can play on the right of a three, he can play central midfield,’ said Thompson. ‘Having someone like that will be key for us. I see him playing right-back - he’s got great energy and loves to get forward.’

Paige, at US Portsmouth for the last few seasons, is another who can play at right-back or in midfield while Kennedy – Petersfield Town’s captain last season – can operate at centre half or in centre midfield. He is the brother of former Gosport midfielder Charlie Kennedy.

Oakwell-Boulton is a centre half with a striker’s eye for goal - witness his 17 strikes (including penalties) in 19 appearances for Chichester City’s Under-23s last season.

Gale is a central midfielder who has Southern League experience with Winchester City, and who played against Baffins last season during a 20-game stint with Blackfield & Langley.

Hardcastle has been signed to provide competition to last season’s regular goalkeeper Konrad Szymaniak. Last season, the teenager played 15 times for Combined Counties League outfit Fleet Town and three times for Wessex Division 1 champions Bemerton.

Gee and Owen Pelham are two members of last season’s under-18 squad who have departed. But Thompson has signed on Harvey Wellham, Oscar Deans, Liam Brewer, Pete Hodgkins, Ben Sharp, Liam Wick and Ryan Harfield.

They could form the basis of Rovers’ new reserve team, featuring an amalgam of last season’s under-18s and the under-23 team who won Division 2 of the Mid-Solent League.

‘The reserve team was my idea,’ said Thompson. ‘I sat down with the chairman (Steve Cripps) and said it was important there was a pathway with the under-18s team folding.

‘The chairman has been fantastic and has backed me, the reserves will play at the PMC and will be there to support the first team.’

Thompson added: ‘There’s still two or three more players I’m chasing, and that would be me more or less done.

‘I know we’ve lost a few but we’ve replaced them - I think we’ve got a good mix of youth and experience.

‘It’s looking positive. If we can develop this group and keep them together, in a few years we could be there or thereabouts.’