Former Conference defender Blakeman keen on taking over as Fleetlands boss on a permanent basis

Chris Blakeman is in temporary charge of FleetlandsChris Blakeman is in temporary charge of Fleetlands
Chris Blakeman is in temporary charge of Fleetlands
Chris Blakeman is keen on replacing Rich Bessey as Fleetlands manager on a permanent basis.

The former Southport defender has been placed in temporary charge of the Hampshire Premier League Senior Division side since Bessey quit earlier this month.

Blakeman, who had been Bessey’s assistant, has overseen a 4-1 Portsmouth Senior Cup win at lower division Meon Milton and a 1-1 league draw at Hayling United.

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Asked if he will be applying for the job, he remarked: ‘It really does appeal.

‘As Iain said (in The News last week), he’s got some really ambitious targets and to be part of that really interests me.

‘The club is ambitious and it fits with what I want to do managerial wise.

‘It’s a well-run club, it’s a family orientated club, and it’s something I would be interested in.

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‘At the moment I’m just trying to steady the ship, get people enjoying their football - I’m happy just to help out.’

The Fleetlands role is Blakeman’s first ever taste of management, but he had a good playing career - appearing for Southport as a centre half in the 1990s during Ronnie Moore’s time as manager.

He was a coach at Burscough Richmond in the West Lancashire League prior to moving to Hampshire around a decade ago. He initially joined Fleetlands with a view to helping out reserve boss Steve King, but Bessey asked him to be his No 2 instead.

‘It’s been good fun to be honest,’ Blakeman said of the last fortnight. ‘Everyone’s been really supportive.’

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Despite no permanent manager, Fleetlands still signed winger Callum Smith from Baffins Milton Rovers last week. He made his debut for the reserves in the Hampshire Combination on Saturday.

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This week the Coptermen have brought in more new faces - defenders Shaun Benjamin (US Portsmouth) and Navy man Lee Owens. Goalkeeper Chris Wings, from Andover New Street, has also been signed.

Against that, Fleetlands have lost Tommy Woodward following Bessey’s exit, as well as Glyn Cooper and Ben Cooper.

‘Tommy’s got two young children and priorities change,’ said Blakeman. ‘I fully understand.’

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Defender Luke Heard was made captain at Hayling - Woodward had been the previous skipper - and responded with the equaliser after the Humbugs had taken an early lead.

‘A draw was a fair result,’ said Blakeman. ‘The reaction from the players has been good after the change of manager.’

Fleetlands host Chamberlayne on Saturday before visiting Moneyfields Reserves next Wednesday. Blakeman and his squad were at Dover Road last midweek but the game was postponed shortly before kick off following a huge downpour.

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