Kirkley & Pakefield turning to youth
KIRKLEY & Pakefield manager Jon Reynolds is turning to youth in his quest to bring success to the north Suffolk side.
The Ridgeons League Premier Division club have trimmed their wage bill considerably since the end of last season, and youngsters are being given their chance to shine on the big stage.
Justin Fox, who left the club after being suspended and disciplined during the season, was followed out of the Walmer Road exit door in the summer by fellow former Wroxham duo goalkeeper Robert Woodcock and Andy Key and Lewis Blois.
Striker Nathan Stone was snapped up by Needham Market after their promotion to Ryman League Division One North, following in the footsteps of winger Chris Henderson, who joined Bury Town last March and was part of their successful promotion push.
But despite the loss of six experienced first-team regulars Reynolds, who was jointly in charge with Stuart Larter last season, is not complaining about his lot.
He said: “We have got 60 teams at the club, so why go out and sign big name players when we have got our own youngsters we have developed?”
Kirkley have produced a conveyor belt of teenage talent in recent seasons, with former Suffolk Under-18 players Bodie Carter, Ian Dawson, Scott Manning and Tarren Grint now established players.
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They have been joined in the squad this season by 17-year-olds Ryan Crisp, who scored four times in last month’s 8-0 demolition of Histon Reserves, and Alex Holmes.
Reynolds said: “We have had more youngsters in the squad than we would have liked to have done in for the last four or five games, and have found out who is good enough to come in if we are short.”
Reynolds said that he took stock at the end of last season and decided to address certain areas. It was a “no-brainer” to bring in close friend and former Ipswich Town Youth team player Marty Hubble, whose non-league clubs included Lowestoft Town and Wroxham, as his assistant manager in the summer.
“We looked at the squad pre-season and Marty thought everyone was hungry was hungry for success. Some of them have been playing at this level for several years but are still in their early 20s.
“Before the season we would have settled for a top-half finish, but now we are looking to be in the top six,” added Reynolds, who also promoted former Lowestoft Town striker Russell Stock to the role of player-coach.
“He now takes the warm-ups and also talks to the players on the pitch,” said Reynolds of the player who joined Kirkley at the start of last season.
Kirkley, who sit in third place in the Premier Division, will face one of their biggest tests of the season so far today when they face fourth-placed CRC at home in a match which kicks-off at 12.30pm because Cambridge United have been drawn at home in the FA Cup.