Latest call-offs mean busy February for Southam

Tom Leaver scores an acrobatic goal for Southam in pre-season. MHLC-26-07-11 Kenilworth Southam Jul194
Tom Leaver scores an acrobatic goal for Southam in pre-season. MHLC-26-07-11 Kenilworth Southam Jul194

It was another blank week for Saints as both their Midland Football Combination match at Stafford on Saturday and the Birmingham County FA Midweek Floodlit Cup tie at Bartley Green on Tuesday fell victim to the weather, writes David Hucker.

With the Bartley Green tie having been postponed for a fourth time, Saints have claimed the right to stage the match at home, with it now taking place on Tuesday (7.45pm).

The mounting number of postponements - Saints have only played six times in the last three months - is reflected in the February fixtures published last Sunday.

They have been given eight matches to play, comprising seven league fixtures and the Les James Memorial Challenge Cup quarter-final at Nuneaton Griff on Saturday 2.

Saints will also visit The Pingles to play Griff in a league match on Wednesday 13 and take on Racing Club Warwick in the fixture originally scheduled for Boxing Day on the 23rd.

Despite the lack of action on the pitch, manager Lee Knibbs has been busy off it, completing three signings as he looks to strengthen his squad ahead of what could be a demanding final few months of the season.

With 19 league matches to play and Saints still involved in four cups, his team could be playing three times a week in April and Knibbs wants to crown his first season at Banbury Road with some silverware.

Since taking over from caretaker-manager Barry Shearsby in August, Knibbs has looked to reshape the squad, signing a number of players with higher level experience, including Howard Forinton, former Leamington utility player Chris Murphy, Casey Gaggini from Barwell and George Curry from Alvechurch.

Now he has added Tom Leaver, Jayden Rickuss and Mark Owen.

“I believe we now have a stronger squad than when I joined Southam,” said Knibbs.

“But I always felt it was, and still is, important to build around a strong nucleus of local-based players. The new signings will give us that depth I hope will help us to challenge for the league and all four cup competitions.”

Leaver, a left-sided player, appeared for Saints in the pre-season programme under Luke Fogarty in 2011, but left for university in America, where he has appeared regularly at regional level. His international clearance was received last week.

Owen, a right-sided player is currently with Coventry Alliance side Christ The King, but is well known to the Southam boss from his spell at Coventry Sphinx where Knibbs was assistant manager.

Rickuss, who turned out for Racing Club Warwick at the start of the season, will compete for a central defensive position, where the continuing absence of Ash Buswell has forced Knibbs into using striker Martin Thompson to plug the gap.

Despite the size of the task facing Saints, Knibbs remains upbeat, saying: “We have to approach the rest of the season with the belief we can win everything.”

Tomorrow, Saints are due to visit Coventry Copsewood in the Coventry Telegraph Challenge Cup (3pm). Racing Club Warwick, meanwhile, visit Brinklow (1.45pm) in the same competition.