FOOT­BALL

Reg­u­lars get their hands on the tro­phy be­fore Pep

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SPORT -

The goalscor­ing mid­fielder left to try his luck in Na­tional League South with Ox­ford City last sum­mer, hav­ing scored 48 goals in 156 games over three sea­sons at The Meadow.

Now re-signed, Pearce is in line to make his bow at home Hitchin Town on Satur­day and has set his sights on the South­ern Premier play-offs.

“It does feel like I’ve got un­fin­ished busi­ness here, and I want to try to get Che­sham into the play-offs,” said Pearce. “It will be quite tough, but hope­fully I can score to help out and give us the best pos­si­ble chance.

Ex-Ger­rards Cross seamer Tom Hamp­ton, who plays for High Wy­combe, suc­ceeds Michael Payne, who led the county for three sea­sons.

The 27-year-old Hamp­ton, who fielded for Eng­land in a Lord’s Test against In­dia in 2011 while with the MCC Young Crick­eters, was for­mally rat­i­fied at the county’s an­nual meet­ing on Mon­day.

“I had no hes­i­ta­tion in com­ing back as I re­ally en­joyed my foot­ball here. I think I did well enough at Ox­ford but they have had fi­nan­cial prob­lems, I was on a long con­tract and they had to let me go.

“[Che­sham man­ager] Jon Meakes got in touch when he heard I had left and I didn’t need much per­suad­ing. It was a hard de­ci­sion to leave in the first place, but it was a chance to step up a level and I left on good terms.”

Pearce, who was part of Che­sham’s mem­o­rable FA Cup runs in 2015/16 and 2016/17, re­turns to a very dif­fer­ent squad, with Benji Cril­ley the only player left from last sea­son.

The prodi­gal son does, how­ever, know a few of the class of 2017/18.

“I played along­side Lewis Toomey, Dave Hut­ton and Keiran Mur­phy at Hemel Hemp­stead, so there’s a few fa­mil­iar faces al­ready, de­spite the

The new cap­tain made his Bucks de­but in 2014, re­turn­ing fig­ures of 6-48 in one game, and his per­for­mances for the county led to his be­ing of­fered a two-year con­tract by Glouces­ter­shire, for whom he played a hand­ful of games.

Hav­ing been re­leased by the County Cham­pi­onship side Hamp­ton is now free to play a full sea­son for Bucks, where he could fea­ture along­side his brother Dan, who has rep­re­sented the county since 2015. high turnover of play­ers since I left,” said Pearce.

“They have done very well, de­spite it be­ing a whole new squad – I’ve not been sur­prised as I know they are good play­ers.

“Per­haps not hav­ing a cup run has helped, as it did have an ef­fect on us over those two years, and we per­haps didn’t do as well as we should have in the league as a re­sult. It’s time to put that right now.”

Che­sham, whose game last week­end was called off, go into the Hitchin fix­ture level on points with Slough Town – who oc­cupy the fi­nal play-off place – but hav­ing played six games more than the Rebels.

Payne will also con­tinue to play for Bucks this sea­son as the county bid to end a run of two sea­sons with­out a win in the Uni­corns Coun­ties Cham­pi­onship.

County pres­i­dent Stu­art York was elected a life mem­ber at the same meet­ing. York played for Bucks in the 1970s and was chair­man from 1997 to 2010.

Bucks kick off their Uni­corn Cham­pi­onship Eastern Di­vi­sion cam­paign with a three-day game against Bed- ford­shire at Tring Park, start­ing on June 24.

First they have a Knock­out Tro­phy game against Cam­bridgeshire at High Wy­combe on April 29 and Twenty20 Cup games against Berk­shire at Amer­sham (May 7), Ox­ford­shire at Ban­bury (May 27), Here­ford­shire at High Wy­combe (June 3) and Shrop­shire at Whitchurch (June 17). Bucks have friendlies at High Wy­combe on April 15, and against Ox­ford­shire at As­ton Rowant on April 22.

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