Hellenic League Preview: Woodley Town FCBy Adam Lee
August 01, 2012
Woodley pin title hopes on success of new strikers
Having rebuilt the side almost from scratch last season, Woodley manager Cyril Fairchild was confident that they could begin the 2012/13 campaign on much surer footing.
However, a string of injuries and suspensions means their preparations have been thrown into jeopardy.
A fractured ankle sustained during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Wootton Bassett Town meant influential midfielder Billy Gordon joined 19-year-old Jordan Sawyer (broken collarbone) and Brett Rann on the sidelines for the start of the new season.
And, with Danny Isiaew facing a seven-week suspension, the pre-season plans have really hit a stumbling block.
For a side who have finished fourth and fifth (twice) in their three campaigns in Hellenic Division 1 East, this season was meant to be the one where they really pushed on and challenged for promotion.
But despite the setbacks, boss Fairchild is still confident of a top-three finish, and believes the signings made could be crucial.
In 20-year-old midfielder Josh Warren, Woodley have signed a player of proven class.
Already experienced at Southern League level with Gosport Town, Warren played under Fairchild at Allied Counties level with Reading Town, and reputedly turned down his former club, as well as Wokingham & Emmbrook and Binfield, to play for Woodley.
But it is in the form of two new strikers that the boss is putting most faith.
Both Ben Lyden and Darrell Fairbrother have switched from Reading Football League Senior Division side South Reading, and Fairchild has high hopes for the two.
Lyden has Hellenic Premier experience with both Binfield and Bracknell Town, but never scored consistently.
Fairchild, however, believes he may have found the 25-goal-a-year striker that the club has missed since the departure of Carl Davies, and Lyden’s seven goals in three pre-season friendlies strengthens that argument.
With a bigger squad to choose from and an extra year of experience for an extremely young side, Woodley are certainly capable of finshing higher than last year’s fifth place.
However, with a notoriously tight defence, it is in their goalscoring where the key to Woodley’s success lies.
If Lyden and Fairbrother can produce the goods, with Sawyer and Isiaew returning to add to that firepower, then there is no reason why Woodley can’t earn promotion.
Last season: 5th in Hellenic Division 1 East
Prediction for this season: A good start, coupled with their new strikers finding their feet early, will almost certainly put Woodley up among the early pacesetters. And if they can find some momentum, then it will be difficult to knock them off their stride - 2nd.
Players in: Ben Lyden, Darrell Fairbrother, Josh Warren.
Players out: None
Key Man: Ben Lyden: Despite boasting a decent defensive record, Woodley have always lacked an out and out goalscorer. If Lyden can trnasmit his South Reading form to Hellenic Division 1 East, then Woodley may have found the 25-goal a season man who can fire them to promotion.
One to watch: Karl Sims: By sheer dedication and hard work, left-winger Sims played himself into becoming one of Woodley's most prized players last season. Won the club's most improved player award in his first season and has already impressed during pre-season,. If he keeps his form up, then he will be a vital attacking outlet for Town.
First match: Penn & Tylers Green (a), Saturday August 11