‘Whole squad’ must step up as Fleetlands start life without top scorer Kelvin Robinson with midweek trip to Moneyfields
Fleetlands boss Chris Blakeman insists it must be a team effort as they attempt to replace the goals of departed top scorer Kelvin Robinson.
The Coptermen have lost the striker who plundered 18 goals in 13 games this season and is the leading marksman in the top flight of the Hampshire Premier League. He has five more goals than the second top scorer, Colden Common’s Chris Pye.
Robinson, having turned down an approach to join two tiers higher Hamble Club back in September, has now decided to sign for the Wessex League Premier Division club.
He has left Lederle Lane after netting 32 goals in just 30 league and cup appearances following a move from Fareham Town in the summer of 2020.
Robinson had netted 22 goals in just 19 matches for Fareham’s reserves in the Wyvern Combination in 2019/20.
‘It’s frustrating to lose your better players but you also want individuals to progress,’ said Blakeman.
‘When you have the numbers that Kelvin did there’s always going to be interest.’
One of the last signings former Fleetlands boss Rich Bessey made was to bring in Horndean striker Mark Smith on loan.
‘Mark’s an experienced striker and hopefully he can help share the load,’ said Blakeman. ‘But it’s going to be up to the whole squad to step up, not just one individual (to replace Robinson’s goals).’
After Robinson, Fleetlands’ next highest scorer this term is Glynn Cooper with four goals - but he has also left in the wake of Bessey’s resignation last month, along with Tommy Woodward and Ben Cooper.
It could be a new-look Fleetlands on show at Moneyfields Reserves on Wednesday, with new defensive signings Shaun Benjamin (from US Portsmouth) and Lee Owens in contention for their debuts.
In Robinson’s absence, Smith is an obvious option though Matt Andrews, Jamie Wrapson and Alpay Ali - who has been with the reserves so far - could also feature in the coming weeks.
Blakeman has been placed in caretaker charge of the first team until the end of the season by chairman Iain Sellstrom.
Dean Inman, Bessey’s former No 2, has taken on a Director of Football role and Matt Shortt - last season’s regular keeper, currently out injured - has been officially installed as Blakeman’s assistant. ‘Matt’s got excellent experience and I will be leaning on him heavily, and have done so already.’
Blakeman said he will be sitting down soon with Inman with a view to identifying possible strike targets now Robinson has left and Smith is only on loan.
Promotion to the Wessex League remains Fleetlands’ ambition. It is a tough ask as they trail leaders Denmead by 14 points, though they do have three games in hand and have still to face the table-toppers this season.
‘My main aim is to win as many games as possible and hope it leads to promotion,’ said Blakeman. ‘Promotion was the aim at the start of the season and I see no reason for that to change.
‘Denmead and Moneyfields have set the standards so far, and now it’s up to me and the team to show we can set those sort of standards.’
The league campaign will soon be put on hold, however. After the midweek visit to Dover Road, Blakeman’s next four games are all cup ties - against Clanfield (Hampshire Trophy), Locks Heath (Portsmouth Senior Cup), Meon Milton (Hampshire Premier League Cup) and Folland Sports (Russell Cotes Cup).