Football: Differing targets for Rutland teams

Uppingham Town                            Photo: Geoff Atton

Uppingham Town Photo: Geoff Atton

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Rutland’s Peterborough League top-flight sides have both kicked off their seasons – but they have differing aims for the year ahead.

Uppingham Town ran out 2-0 winners against derby and Premier Division rivals Oakham United on Tuesday night.

And while Uppingham are looking to kick on this season and better last year’s seventh place, Oakham are aiming for consolidation and simply to stay in the division.

Uppingham Town manager Richard Kendrick was pleased with Tuesday’s performance and reckons they have got the best squad in the past 10 years.

He said they were aiming to better last season’s position.

He said: “We’ve had a good pre-season against some Corby sides so it’s been tough and physical.

“Tuesday was the first time we had the full unit out and to be honest they all deserved to start, but you obviously can’t do that.

“We’ve got a good squad, probably the best we’ve had for 10 years.

“We’ve had some youngsters coming through who have come of age, but they all know they’ve got to perform.”

Meanwhile Oakham have suffered a summer of turmoil as players have left and the reserves and third teams have folded.

Last year Oakham finished fifth under the guidance of joint managers Pat Johson and Andy Saddinginton. Saddington has now taken a step back so Johnson is the sole man in charge.

And he is being realistic about the season ahead.

He said: “We need to try and consolidate this year and stay in the premier division and hopefully build from there.

“We are struggling for players but in the first month of the season there are always people moving teams who don’t settle and move on so we may pick some up.”

Johnson is hoping the new ground in Oakham will be ready for them towards the end of the season and that will help attracts some new faces.

However results will be the immediate issue.

Oakham lost 7-1 in the league’s President Premier Shield on Saturday and then 2-0 at Uppingham on Tuesday.

Johnson said he could not fault the commitment by his team. He said: “I was more than happy with the effort of the lads.

“Some of them have come up from the reserves and with a bit more fitness, a bit more nous they can do well.

“It was nil-nil at half-time and we a had a couple of chances but in the second half they were a lot stronger and deserved it.”

Both goals came in the second half.

Jake Norton scored a Peter Crouch-like volley and Andy Sayers doubled the lead with almost the last kick of the game.

Kendrick said it was a typical derby and although the football suffered at times it was played in a good spirit.

Not one card was issued by the man in the middle.

Kendrick said: “We probably could have had a few more as we hit the woodwork four times and their keeper made a couple of cracking saves.

“The first half struggled but it got better in the second half.”

Uppingham play Stilton in the President Premier Shield on Saturday away while Oakham face Sawtry at home.