Thu, 23 Feb 2017
Two more years for Bobby Wilkinson
MANAGER Bobby Wilkinson has given Hungerford a boost in advance of Saturday’s derby day with Vanarama National League South leaders Maidenhead United by agreeing a two-year contract extension with the club.
Wilkinson, who has guided Hungerford from Division One South and West of the Southern League to a position where they could be one division below the Football League, agreed the deal with club chairman Nigel Warrick this week.
“It shows the club is committed to what we are doing,” he said. “The players gave been superb and off the park the club is going for it and backing me all the way.”
Work has started on upgrading the facilities to the league’s level with £14,000 spent on new floodlights, new stand extension work in progress and even improved heating in the dressing rooms.
Now the task is to continue the club’s fairy tale league season that has seen the summer relegation favourites reach the top five with the prospect of joining major non-league forces next season.
Hungerford face Alan Devonshire’s leaders on Saturday, having added to the squad this week with the signing on loan of Newport County striker Tom Meechan.
The 26-year old was bought by the Welsh club from St Neots Town last season, when he netted 25 league and cup goals in half a campaign before making the switch.
“His goals per game record is astonishing,” said Wilkinson “We don’t know if Stefan Brown will be 100 per cent fit, and if he’s not, that leaves us with only three strikers. And I couldn’t turn him down with his record.”
Otherwise Hungerford have no injury worries ahead of the game with the leaders, who have given a supporters a few flutters this month, which has seen them net late goals three times to seal seven home points while suffering a rare defeat at Hemel Hempstead. But it is that capacity to salvage results that impresses Bobby Wilkinson.
“They’ve clawed them out when maybe they haven’t played well,” he said, “but I’d be happy to play badly for 10 games if we won them all 1-0. It shows they can never be counted out.”
Hungerford led 2-0 at Maidenhead last October inf ront of a 1,000-strong before Maids came back to snatch a point with 32-goal Dave Tarpey among the marksmen.
Hungerford are expecting a big crowd for the Berkshire derby and are offering Reading, Oxford United and Swindon Town season ticket holders the chance of half-price admission with their main teams away.
THE bookies don't really split the clubs with Hungerford priced at 7/5 to win, Maidenhead 6/4 and a draw at 12/5 while a 2-1 win for either side is 9/1 and a repeat of the 2-2 draw at 12/1.
No odds are available on a member of either bench eating a pie during the match.