Horndean now have great balance between youth and experience after summer squad changes

Michael Birmingham believes Horndean now have the perfect balance between youth and experience after his summer business.

Monday, 10th August 2020, 11:41 am
Robbie Taw (blue) has signed for Horndean from Baffins Milton Rovers. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

The Deans have seen four of last season's squad depart the club with the same number arriving.

Both Alfie Lis (Bognor) and Fuzz Kanjanda (Chichester City) have decided to test themselves higher up the pyramid.

Meanwhile, former Pompey midfielder Jack Maloney has taken a teaching job in London and Fuzz's brother Tee is starting his studies at Brighton University.

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All four were regulars last season, with only keeper Lloyd Thomas making more Wessex starts than Lis (24) while Fuzz Kanjanda started 20 league games, his brother 18 and Maloney 17.

Birmingham focused his attention on recruiting experienced players at Wessex League Premier level after losing the young quartet - bringing in Robbie Taw (Baffins Milton Rovers), Liam Bush (AFC Portchester) and Stevie Hall and Sam Doswell (both Alresford) to Five Heads Park.

Taw made 27 league and cup starts for Baffins last season - no outfielder made more for the club - while Bush made 28 starts for Portchester and Hall 18 league starts for Alresford.

Deans also signed Tommy Tierney from Baffins, but the attacking midfielder returned to his former club last week.

Birmingham, though, is delighted with his squad ahead of the coming season.

And he also wished his departing quartet well.

'There’s no way in the world that we’d do that (stand in players’ way),' he reiterated.

‘The likes of Benny Read, Sam Smart and the Leigh brothers (Tommy and Ashton) have all gone onto higher and better clubs.

‘We’ll always do that, we’ll try to keep producing them and when the opportunity is there we’ll pat them on the back and say ‘well done, thank you’.

‘They’re all going to be a loss.‘The two Kanjanda brothers have been absolutely fantastic, they really have.

‘They’re two good boys as well, good characters.

‘Jack Maloney has been there since day one from when I’ve been here.

‘On his day, there’s no better player in the league than him.’

Lis scored 19 league and cup goals in 2018/19, the season Horndean finished runners-up in the Wessex Premier - their highest ever finish.

‘Alfie is an ambitious boy,’ said Birmingham.

‘He only got about 11 last season but we did have a lot of stop-start with injuries.

‘He’s deserved his opportunity.

'But we've made some good signings - good, experienced players as well.

‘That’s one thing that we were missing.

‘We’ve got a nice little balance now between the real younger players - when I say young they’ve been with me about three or four years now.

‘They have got good experience for their age, but now we’ve signed Hally and Dos as well who are 28/30, they bring that extra experience.'

The Deans started their pre-season programme with a 1-0 win at Farnham Town on Saturday, striker Harry Jackson on target.

And the Horndean boss could not have been happier with how his squad performed after so long without match action.

'Considering it was our first game for well over 100 days and it was just slightly warm, I thought we were fantastic,' added Birmingham.

‘Our work rate and the way we moved the ball on a difficult pitch was excellent.

‘The most important thing is we came away with no injuries because you don’t want any injuries before the start of the season.

‘I was very happy with how it went.'

Horndean travel to Selsey on Tuesday night and host Moneyfields on Friday.