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Romsey squad cheers new boss
NEW boss Carl Bennett is “under no illusions” about the size of the task he has taken on at Romsey Town.
Having spent the last 17 months as Danny Barker’s right-hand man at the Bypass Ground, Bitterne Park-based Bennett has experienced Romsey’s struggles in the Sydenhams Premier basement at first hand.
But, having been encouraged to take the job by his good friend Barker, who agreed to step down on Monday following a heart-to-heart with chairman Ken Jacobs, Bennett believes the raw material is there to turn Romsey’s season around.
He got his reign off to a winning start on Tuesday when Town knocked Folland Sports out of the Russell Cotes Cup 5-4 after extra time.
And, though today presents the sizeable task of a home league game against last season’s league runners-up Alresford Town, Bennett is up for the challenge.
“I’m under no illusions. The job’s not going to be easy,” he said. “But, with the squad we’ve got, there’s enough there and we had a glimpse of that on Tuesday against Follands.
“We dug in and showed a lot of team spirit, which I haven’t seen for a while, and I was just sorry Danny wasn’t there to see it.”
Barker’s decision to leave was made in the wake of last Saturday’s calamitous 3-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Bournemouth Poppies which dumped Romsey to the bottom of the Premier Division pile.
“I had no idea Danny was talking to Ken (Jacobs) on Monday but, by coincidence, I phoned him about something else and he stopped me in my tracks and told me he felt there was nothing else he could do for the club and he’d given everything he’d got,” said Bennett.
“He felt they needed a new face and advised me to take it on and see if I could do something.”
It’s not the first time Bennett – a former work colleague of Barker’s at Travis Perkins - has taken over the managerial reins from his friend.
He stayed on at Hamble Club when Barker left for Totton & Eling and later took over the reins at Bishops Waltham after former Portsmouth and Basingstoke defender Barker had opted to start playing again.
Barker has already spoken of his desire to find a new club as quickly as possible and, if he does, it’s possible Romsey coaches Dan Piper and Nigel Green will follow him.
But, for the time being, they are staying put at the Bypass Ground to work alongside Bennett.
“I need to keep in touch with football and, until you’ve been manager, you never know how far you can go,” said Bennett.
“Until now I’ve just been in the background giving Danny my opinion. I’ll be taking it one step at a time (as manager) and, fingers crossed, it will work.”
Looking ahead to today, Bennett added: “Playing Alresford will be tough, but there are no easy games in this league.
“Hopefully Tuesday’s win will have put a spring in our step and we’ll give them a game.
“If we go into it with the attitude we had against Follands, there’s every chance we could get something.
“We should hopefully have Danny Phillips, Sol Asajile and Mitch Parker back but, with the side having played so well on Tuesday, there will be some tough decisions to make. It’s something I’ve got to get used to.”
Alresford’s lethal marksman Warren Bentley will be looking for his 100th goal in Magpies colours.
He made it 99 on Tuesday as holders Alresford outclassed Southern One South & West side Fleet Town 4-1 in the North Hampshire Senior Cup.
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