Keynsham Town make promising start

October 01 2021
Keynsham Town make promising start

AFTER last season’s Toolstation Western League campaign was curtailed in December due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ks began their pre-season training schedule a month earlier than usual back in May.

Behind the scenes, there were some structural and personnel changes made over the summer. The club decided to withdraw its A team from the Bristol & Suburban League, leaving three teams at a senior level.

Off the field, the first team’s coaching staff remained unaltered, whilst James Tooze took over as the reserve team’s coach, assisted by Brian Sealy. The under-18s are now managed by Rich Duffy, assisted by

Chris Gannon, and their job will be to manage the club’s pathway philosophy for players to move through the ranks from junior football to the first team.

On the pitch, the first team had a few important personnel changes on the playing side as the season started on July 31.

Firstly, manager John Allen introduced the highly-rated 18-year-old goalkeeper Seth Locke to his ranks, on loan from Frome Town to replace Ash Clark, an influential member of Town’s Division One title and promotion-winning side of 2018-19.

Allen said: “Ash informed us that following the birth of his fourth child, he understandably could no longer commit to regular football, although he’ll cover when required for Seth, who has himself impressed everyone with his commanding and vocal presence at such a young age.”

Three more important additions to last season’s squad have been Sam Jones, a versatile defensive midfielder signed from Odd Down, Scott Gregory, an experienced Western League centre half from Westbury United, and Will Hailston, a very experienced Southern League footballer, who has made a fantastic start in the amber and black with 10 goals to his name already.

Despite stumbling at the first hurdle of the FA Cup courtesy of a 3-0 away defeat by Tring Athletic in Hertfordshire, Keynsham won all three of their opening Premier Division fixtures before a narrow 3-2 home defeat at the hands of one of the league’s ambitious Cornish newbies, Helston Athletic.

There then followed three successive draws, against promotion hopefuls Buckland Athletic and Shepton Mallet (twice), before Bridport were put to the sword at Crown Fields on August Bank Holiday Monday, with the Ks running out 6-2 winners.

Two of the Ks’ goals that afternoon were scored by 20-year-old Luke Banfield, who typifies the club’s pathway philosophy, having progressed from their schoolboy ranks through the reserves to the first team.

An ill-tempered 1-1 draw away to Street followed, before the Ks suffered only their second league loss of the season as the heavy early-season schedule began to take its toll, and Clevedon Town left Crown Fields as 4-0 victors.

Next up was the return visit to Helston, and what an incredible game that turned out to be. Keynsham only had nine fully fit players, but with two lads playing with pain-killing injections, a new signing coming out of retirement and young Lewis Pring (another example of the club’s successful pathway) stepping up from the reserves, they managed to take a squad of 13 on the marathon trek to Cornwall.

Defensive frailties left the Ks trailing 4-1 and then 5-2, but they then made a scarcely believable comeback with Adey Harvey scoring a dramatic equaliser in the 89th minute to secure a point in a 5-5 draw.

With a third of the season’s league fixtures already played, Keynsham Town secretary Jules French is backing his team to maintain the sort of form that has put them in a promising eighth place in the league table, proving that they mean business operating around the upper echelons of the Western League.

French reasoned: “All in all we’ve been absolutely delighted with the start we’ve made. Indeed some of our football, especially in the first half of our early 3-0 win at Brislington, has been superb.

“Our priority since I joined the club nine years ago has always been to progress. Now we’re well under way in what hopefully will be our first complete season in the Premier Division (after the last two seasons were affected by Covid) and we are looking to establish ourselves in the top half of the division before continuing to build from there.”

Keynsham Town reserves have had an inconsistent start to their Uhlsport Somerset County Premier League campaign, with one win, one draw and four defeats from their opening games.

Similarly it has been a mixed start for the under-18s, with a 2-1 FA Youth Cup defeat away to Street and a 5-2 reverse at home to Oldland Abbotonians in the Western Counties Floodlit Youth League.

However, those two results sandwiched a remarkable 13-1 league victory away to Chipping Sodbury Town, including five goals from Shane Robbins and four by Lewis Morse.

Until the next issue of the Keynsham Voice, you can keep up to date with club news via their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The club’s home fixtures for October are as follows:

Sat Oct 2: Reserves v Saltford (Somerset Senior Cup R1) 2pm
Tue Oct 5: U18s v Portishead Town U18s (League) 7.45pm
Sat Oct 9: Reserves v Stockwood Wanderers (League) 3pm
Sat Oct 16: Reserves v Middlezoy Rovers (League) 3pm
Tue Oct 19: Reserves v Chilcompton Sports (League) 7.45pm
Sat Oct 23: Reserves v Watchet Town (League) 3pm
Tue Oct 26: U18s v Chipping Sodbury Town U18s (League) 7.45pm
Sat Oct 30: First team v Bitton Town (League) 3pm

Photo: Will Hailston scores a cracker against Helston Athletic