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Tooting & Mitcham United 2018-19 Season Preview

Tooting & Mitcham United 2018-19 Season Preview

Ashley Bosah; Cornelius Nwadialor
Ashley Bosah; Cornelius Nwadialor
 

After the disappointment of relegation last year, the green shoots of optimism about the new season are beginning to emerge. Roger Butcher looks forward to the new season at Tooting & Mitcham United FC.
 

It seems, that no matter how bad things have been, most football supporters approach a brand new season with a renewed confidence, no matter how misplaced!

Over the summer, the club parted ways with manager Frank Wilson after three seasons of extremes! No mid-table mediocrity with Wilson! It seems to have been an amiable split, and certainly the supporters don’t have a bad word to say about Frank. But finishing bottom of the table normally means that the manager will be shown the door, and so it was with Tooting.

The new man at the helm is well known at Tooting & Mitcham – Ashley Bosah. He has been around the club for many years in a number of roles – predominantly working with the youth set up, and more recently he was to be seen in the dugout alongside Frank Wilson. It goes without saying that we wish him the best of luck and hope he gets off to a good start. He will be assisted by a new face at Tooting – Cornelius Nwadialor.

The new management team will be taking the team into unknown territory as we have been relegated to a newly formed division – the Isthmian South Central. It is still sponsored by Bostik, but due to the new regionalisation of the leagues, we will be playing against teams from areas that we haven’t been to for many years. The South Central Division is at Step 4 of the non-league pyramid – that same level in which we won the league just 2 seasons ago. So despite the new name and a few new opponents, this league shouldn’t hold too many fears for us.

There are generally a lot more comings and goings of players over the summer in the non-league game compared to professional teams, but so far the new management team have done well to keep the bulk of last season’s squad. Although the team finished bottom, I still think that having a continuity of players is beneficial to making a good start to the season. There still seems to be a good spirit amongst the players despite the trials and tribulations of last season. Our biggest loss may be Chace O’Neill who has joined a club in the Bostik Premier division after 3 seasons with us in which he had some magnificent performances.

Also departing is Mike Dixon whose goals in the 2nd half of the championship season propelled us over the line in the title race with Dorking Wanderers. Injuries blighted his campaign last season, but he is another one who will be playing in the Bostik Premier next season.

As for new players, it’s difficult to say this early in the season.  Clubs at our level very rarely have players on contracts, and so players are free to move clubs right up until the first game of the season. We have had 5 friendly matches so far which has featured quite a few players. Some from last season’s team, some from the youth team and some new faces from other teams. How the final squad will shape up is not clear yet, as the new manager still has a couple of weeks to weigh up his options.

The results in the pre-season friendly games are really inconsequential but Elijah Simpson may have staked an early claim for a 1st team spot with 4 goals in our 6-1 win over Redhill.  Other results so far include a 2-1 win over Whyteleafe, a 1-1 draw away at Staines and a couple of defeats at the hands of Merstham and Greenwich Borough.

As for the new season, it is difficult to work out who will be the teams to look out for as due to the reorganisation of the leagues, there are quite a few teams who were in different leagues last season, such as the Southern League. I suppose Hayes & Yeading will be a force, as they were playing in the Conference as recently as 2012. At the other end of the scale is Westfield, who play near Guildford, and who are playing their first season at this level having won the Combined Counties League last season with an impressive 106 points.

Tooting embark on the new campaign away to Northwood on 11th August and have their first home game against Marlow on 18th August. If you can’t wait till then to get your football fix, there is one remaining friendly against Horsham on 4th August. Why not come down and enjoy a bit of late summer football?

And don’t forget that the FA Cup begins for clubs at our level in August. We start in the preliminary round and will have a home tie against Redhill or Horley, depending on who wins their tie a week previously.

Upcoming Home Fixtures (all at 3pm):

  • Horsham (Pre Season Friendly) – Sat 4th August
  • Marlow – Sat 18th August
  • Redhill or Horley Town (FA Cup) – Sat 25th August
  • Chipstead – Bank Holiday Monday 28th August


Come along – the 280 bus stops right outside!

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