Rovers ready for new season to get under way

NEW SEASON, NEW TEAM: Ben Cowling (left) reveals his final-look side for the 2017/18 season in the Premier Division of the Thurlow Nunn League, including new signings Kelvin Enaro, Cameron Watson and Aaron Forshaw
NEW SEASON, NEW TEAM: Ben Cowling (left) reveals his final-look side for the 2017/18 season in the Premier Division of the Thurlow Nunn League, including new signings Kelvin Enaro, Cameron Watson and Aaron Forshaw

A hat-trick from Haverhill Rovers’ Rafal Woźniak helped the team to a commanding 6-3 victory over Braintree Town Reserves in their final warm-up game before the new season.

Manager Ben Cowling said he was pleased with the way pre-season had gone and feels the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side are well prepared for their first game on Saturday — an Extra Preliminary Round FA Cup tie at Hoddeson Town (3pm).

Playing a team a step below them in the pyramid — Braintree Town Reserves play in the First Division — Rovers scored a comfortable victory in a game high in goals.

Rovers scored three in each half, with first-half goals coming from Jordan Palmer and Woźniak (2) as they always stayed ahead of their visitors.

Palmer scored his second after the interval, while new signing Kelvin Enaro joined the scoresheet before Woźniak put the game to bed with his third goal, and the team’s sixth.

Cowling said: “We’re feeling pretty positive about the new season after the way pre-season went.

“The results have been mostly what we hoped for and we’ve seen some good performances too.

“The new players have slotted in well and the team has really started to gel as one.

“Our defence does need a bit of work, we’ve let in a few goals, but we’re scoring plenty as well — so it’s not too concerning. I think that will come as the season goes on.

“It’s great to see how well the players are getting on, both on and off the pitch. We’re all really looking forward to the season getting going.”

He continued: “I think we’re done with signing players now. We have a great team and we re-signed most of last season’s squad so we’re in a good frame of mind.

“There was a fear we could lose quite a few players with some of the offers out there this transfer window, so it’s been a relief to get this all sorted and to now be able to look ahead to the new season.

“We are in a much stronger position than we were this time last year and the great results in pre-season show this.

“The facilities have been a huge boost of course but there’s just such a good feeling in the club at the moment.

“Everything has been so positive and I expect to see that attitude taken into the new season.”

The team finished 16th in the league last season, two places above the relegation places.

Cowling hopes this season will produce better statistics than last term, where the team won 11 of 40 games.

He hopes it will start on Tuesday, when they kick-start their league campaign with a game against Long Melford at home (7.45pm) — the team who finished in 17th place and one place below them last season.

Haverhill Rovers start their season this weekend, with an FA Cup tie away from home at Hoddesdon Town (3pm).

The New Croft-based team will hope to improve their recent form in the competition, having failed to progress for four seasons.

They last made it past the first stage round in the 2013/14 season, but have lost the last three. Hoddesdon, meanwhile, have won their last three first-round ties.

Manager Ben Cowling said the team were looking forward to the tie, and a chance to throw down the gauntlet.

“It should be a good game against a strong team,” he said. “It’s been a few years but we can progress this year if we play like we have been.”

The tie will take place at Hoddesdon’s neighbours Ware FC.