Oakham United boss Ryan Hunnings believes unleashing his side’s young guns will help the United Counties League club build for a bright future.
Hunnings had five teenagers in his squad for last weekend’s Division One trip to Harrowby United where a last-gasp goal denied Oakham a share of the spoils.
Despite the defeat, Oakham go into Saturday’s home clash with Lutterworth Athletic upbeat as they seek a first victory of Hunnings’ managerial reign.
He said: “The last two games – away at Olney and Harrowby – have been quite pleasing and encouraging.
“We had four teenagers in the starting line-up on Saturday and another on the bench. That’s definitely the way forward for us.
“The likes of Scott Waumsley have been brilliant. They are really eager to commit to training and are willing to learn and listen.
“We’ve got 11 games left and the young lads will give us something to build on for the rest of the season.”
Oakham go into Saturday’s match looking for their first victory since the end of August and aiming to snap a 22-game run without a win.
They host a Lutterworth Athletic side who had lost their last three league games before a midweek victory at Burton Park. They needed a couple of late goals to defeat Oakham in last month’s meeting.
Hunnings added: “It’s a massive game for us. We have done well away at the likes of Olney, Harrowby and Huntingdon, but we don’t seem to play well at home so we’ve got to put that right on Saturday.
“We’ve had a couple of good away performances and then not turned up for a home game which we should have been doing well in.
“The lads got a taste of being in front for the first time in a long time on Saturday. They know what it’s like now.
“It’s a good experience for them and in the last two matches we’ve been in the game for the whole 90 minutes.
“There is still time for us to turn it around this season because we are now a lot better side than we were a couple of months ago.
“There’s only two or three of the lads in the squad who have played in the United Counties League before.
“We were like a rabbit in the headlights to start with, but the lads now know what is expected of them at this level so fingers crossed we can get something on Saturday.
“We’ve got a good nucleus of players together with the same lads turning up each week.
“It’s coming together and has given us something to build on.”
Stewart Lambie is available again at the weekend following his three-match suspension for the sending off at Huntingdon while is Hunnings is hopeful that Danny Dumford, Martin Bennett and Tiago Camilo will return.
New signing Mindaugas Valys made an impressive debut for Oakham last weekend at the heart of the defence following his switch from Peterborough League side Langtoft.
Hunnings enthused: “Mindaugas was man-of-the-match on Saturday after a fantastic performance.
“He hasn’t played much recently, but he’s good friends with Tom Bedford (Oakham goalkeeper) so we’re getting him back into it.
“He’s an old school centre-half. He puts his head in where it hurts, is hard in the tackle and is really up for the scrap.
“He was a God-send on Saturday and formed a really good partnership with Steve Slack.”
Oakham have also strengthened their backroom team with the acquisition of Raphael Frascogna who is a qualified UEFA B coach.