12:30PM, Thursday 04 August 2022
It will take a little time for Sam Lock to change the mentality around Holyport, but the new boss is confident his side can be competitive, playing on the front foot and going after teams.
Last season, Port stayed up on the final day of the season, having scrapped and defended for their lives for pretty much the entire campaign.
Having taken over from Derek Sweetman in the close season and made a few adjustments to the playing squad - bringing in a little more experience to compliment the side's youthful enthusiasm - Lock is confident Port will be more competitive this term.
They'll get their first chance to prove that on Saturday in the extra-preliminary round of the FA Cup, however, Lock admits a trip to Risborough Rangers is one of the toughest draws they could have asked for.
“It's a big ask for our boys,” he said. “They're a step four side comfortably and we’re the underdogs but, as I said to the boys, everyone is going to look at that fixture and say ‘Holyport are out’.
“Wouldn't it be nice to surprise a few people?”
The winners of the tie are likely to meet Ascot United in the preliminary round but before that Port get their Combined Counties Premier Division North campaign underway with a home game against Harefield on Saturday, August 13 before visiting Chalfont St Peter the following Tuesday evening.
“I've been trying to change the whole ethos of the club, where we were scrapping for our lives every week and sitting in and defending,” said Lock.
“I'm trying to change the mentality in terms of going out to win games. There's been a big turnover in players but that needed to be done, it’s part of the evolution, there must be change.
“I feel I've got a really good group, they're young and they're hungry and they're going to make mistakes, but I'd like to think we could upset a few of the big boys. Being realistic we just want to be competitive every week, something we weren't in the first half of last season.
“There's a lot of coaching with a young group and understanding different formations. They can't learn it all in one go, but pre-season has been positive.
“We've lost a couple of players to teams in the same league, mainly for money.
“There's so much money floating around in the Combined Counties League, it's crazy and we don't have a playing budget. What I can provide is the opportunity to be well coached and to get a season of men's football under their belts before they try to push on and play step four and step three.
“I think we've got the blend of youth and experience right, we might get one or two more in. The most important thing for these young players is to be playing week in and week out and learning their trade. Sitting on the bench at step four doesn't do anyone any good in my opinion.
“We've also got Veo this year, so we'll be able to record and look back and analyse our performances. It couldn't have gone any better to be honest.”
Port rounded off their pre-season preparations with a 2-1 defeat to Tadley Calleva on Saturday, but the game did feature a spectacular overhead kick from Port’s Sam Whitfield, a goal described as ‘one of the best seen at Summerleaze Park’.
Liquid Leisure Windsor has issued a statement following the death of an 11-year-old girl at the water park on Saturday afternoon.