Fareham set sights on finishing in the top half

Niall Stott.  Picture: Neil Marshall
Niall Stott. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Fareham performance director Ben Barnes is eager to use last season’s relegation play-off survival as a springboard to achieve a top-half finish in the upcoming National League west conference campaign.

The new season kicks off tomorrow, with Fareham facing a difficult start when they travel to last year’s champions Team Bath Buccaneers.

But Barnes is confident his new-look side – which includes former Great Britain and Havant player Niall Stott – can build on last term’s brilliant escape.

He said: ‘Staying up was very important for the whole club.

‘The squad has been working hard in pre-season to make sure we avoid that situation again.

‘By making our team stronger with new additions, and stepping up our strength and conditioning programme, we have ensured that we’re physically stronger going into the new season.

‘Individually and as a team, if we can consistently play at – or near – to our best, we have every chance of having a successful season.

‘Team Bath Buccaneers will be a stern test given they have won the league twice in the past four years.’

Havant begin their National League west conference campaign with a trip to Cardiff’s Sofia Gardens.

Sam Hatherley and Matthew Boote have returned to the club after representing Team Bath Buccaneers while at the University of Bath.

Ex-Chichester man Matt Cox and Wales under-18s international Dan Ferrier have also moved to Havant.

Club president Chris Pickett is expecting a tough game against Cardiff – an established side in the division.

But with many of their players being students, he feels the Welsh outfit will not have had a brilliant pre-season.

Pickett said: ‘Cardiff will be a tough game, but playing them early on is as good a time as any.

‘Their pre-season preparation is usually short with their players returning to the city after the summer.

‘Matthew Boote will be unavailable for us as he has school master duties on Saturdays. Otherwise we will be selecting from a full squad.’