Glos County We’ve made massive steps forward, says Barker
We had 16 players available for the Boco game at the weekend and that sort of number hasn’t been heard of at Hanham for a match for a long time
HANHAM Athletic boss John Barker pointed to two recent acquisitions as evidence his team are finally heading in the right direction.
Perennial strugglers Hanham, who hit new depths last term when they finished bottom of the Marcliff Gloucestershire County League ladder, are a reinvigorated force this season having won three and drawn two of their ten league fixtures ahead of tomorrow’s trip to face a tenthplaced Broadwell Amateurs outfit they can leapfrog with victory.
While Hanham’s 2018-19 record to date might appear modest by comparison to many of their rivals, it nevertheless reflects significant progression and the club’s important summer signing Barker certainly believes that.
The 52-year-old Vicarage Road manager said: “We’ve made massive steps forward, although we’re not where we want to be yet. But we are improving all the time.
“We’ve lost three of our last nine games (including a tight GFA Trophy shootout defeat by AEK Boco) and done really well in that time.
“A bit more luck and we could be even higher than we are at the moment (11th). Against Ruardean Hill last month we were 2-1 up only for them to equalise with the last kick of the game to take a point.
“And in our derby with Boco at the weekend we were one-up before they tied it up in the dying stages.
“We’d also played really well in our previous game with Frampton United who are right up there challenging hard at the top. Again we were 1-0 up at halftime before they scored around the hour-mark and got a second not long after.
“Still we came back and put them under a lot of pressure. In the end, we were unlucky not to get something out of it.”
Asked what he considers has sparked the turnaround in fortunes, Barker said: “There’s a complete difference in thought processes.
“There’s a full-on focus on the first team being the best it can be and that approach has carried right through the club.
“We’ve also worked really hard on fitness and shape and that’s paying off.
“Having a couple of new faces on board has lifted things, too. Mason Hawkins, an 18-year-old goalkeeper who had previously been with Boco, plays for Yate Town in the Somerset Youth Floodlit League and he has a very positive future ahead of him.
“He’s a confident lad and big for his age and, while he has a lot to learn still, of course, he is a good talker and settles the back four down well.
“Jack Camm also came in recently, an attacking midfielder who scored on Saturday and has played at the higher level of the non-League game with the likes of Cinderford Town, Larkhall Athletic, Weston-super-Mare and Yate Town, having begun his career on a pro contract at Bristol Rovers.
“Jack is a Hanham lad and he’s already given us a different dimension. Having players like these in our ranks shows how far we’ve come, that we’re worth them investing their time and effort in us.
“We had 16 players available for the Boco game at the weekend and that sort of number hasn’t been heard of at Hanham for a match for a long time.”
Barker, who formerly operated as a coach at Bristol Rovers Supporters Juniors, Bristol City Academy and Bristol Inner City Academy, has only centre-half Jack Baber missing from tomorrow’s Broadwell-bound squad.
He said: “We have no targets set as to where we want to be this season. That said I do feel a midtable finish wouldn’t do us justice as I firmly believe we can be better than that.”
Meanwhile, Boco entertain Rockleaze Rangers having now gone 11 league games since the start of the campaign without victory, while Henbury, who have drawn their last three fixtures, host a Patchway Town team who returned to winning ways at the weekend with a 1-0 home defeat of Hardwicke.
Little Stoke seek the spark to reignite their season and hope the trip to Hardwicke will provide it.
All games kick off at 2pm.