Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling looking for promotion in second season at Step 6
With things having come together off the pitch over the last 12 months, Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling now has his sights fixed on a promotion challenge in 2019/20.
A lot of hard work and funds have gone into transforming The Nest of late, most notably with the installation of floodlights.
And Cowling’s side have also given a good account of themselves on the field, scoring more than 100 goals on their way to finishing fifth during what was a first ever season for the club at Step 6 in 2018/19.
However, with four teams set to be promoted from the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North this term, the boss wants further progression.
“The ultimate aim last season was to get the ground up to scratch with the floodlights and the hard standing,” said Cowling.
“On the pitch we did okay. With only one going up it was always going to be difficult to challenge, although I would have liked to have been a bit closer to the teams at the top.
“We have kept the majority of last year’s squad and most of this squad have been together since Christmas, so there are some good understandings.
“And with four going up, that is a really big carrot and a huge opportunity to get the club into Step 5 for the first time.
“There will probably be eight to 10 other teams thinking along the same lines, but that has to be our target.
“We have got a good squad together, both in terms of quality and size, so it is down to us to perform.”
Ryan Geoghegan, Rhys Mazey, Rafal Wozniak and Ryan Weaver have all been pleasing additions for Cowling, but he is equally happy to have retained much of last season’s squad.
Aaron Turner, James McCabe and Ryan Sanders have all moved to higher-league sides, but those are the only significant departures, with frontman Shaun Avis (15 goals in eight appearances) among those staying put.
“Because we finished fifth last season it does put the players in the shop window,” added Cowling.
“There was some significant interest in our players so we have done well to keep hold of a lot of them.
“It is great to have Shaun involved again. Goalscorers are very hard to come by.
“He obviously gives us a lot on the pitch but he is also great in the changing room and around the club, always encouraging the younger players.”
Lakenheath’s second season at Step 6 will start on Saturday with a home game against newly-promoted Sheringham (3pm), who were a Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Premier Division outfit last season.