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Dillon optimistic ahead of new season with Tadley Calleva

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Tadley Calleva are enjoying a successful pre-season so far and Ben Dillon, who shares managerial responsibilities with his best friend Joe Lawler, is confident his side can maintain their form when the Combined Counties League Premier Division South season begins next month.

Tadley are unbeaten so far, having drawn with Andover New Street and Berks County and, most recently, beaten Thatcham Town 2-1 on Wednesday, July 13.

"We're very pleased with where we're at, the squad is starting to come together now," Dillon said.

"We looked really good against Thatcham, who are a really good team.

"I was really happy with the result and all the new lads that came in, we're looking good."

Ben Dillon and Joe Lawler
Ben Dillon and Joe Lawler

Dillon feels his squad is now "90% there" with three weeks and three scheduled friendlies before competitive football returns.

"We know most of the squad, the 11 is a little bit more difficult," he said.

"We're going to use two different formations this year, so we're working out who will do the best job in which positions.

"We've whittled the squad down from 40 to about 25, which is a good number, but I'm sure that'll go down a little bit more.

"We're nearly there, I reckon I could give you my 16, my 11 we're probably about a week away from."

Dillon and Lawler also recently discovered Tadley's opponents in the FA Cup extra preliminary round and the first qualifying round of the FA Vase.

The Tadders will welcome Wincanton to Barlows Park on August 6 in the FA Cup and then will travel to face Virginia Water in the FA Vase on August 27.

Tadley's management duo have fond memories of the FA Cup; in the 2013-14 season, they guided Hampshire outfit Hartley Wintney to the fourth qualifying round for the first time in the club's history.

Dillon said: "We've got good experience in the FA Cup and we're pleased to have a home draw.

"We couldn't really have asked for more with that, but you know what the FA Cup's like, anyone can beat anyone.

"We played Virginia Water last season, a good team and a good club, that'll be a tough one, but it's one we're looking forward to."

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