On Thursday evening, Lee Lashenko, his coaching staff, and the first-team players gathered at The Creek for their final training session ahead of the 2022/23 Southern League season. Our latest interview features Assistant Grantley Dicks and Goalkeeper Ben John who discuss pre-season and Saturday’s opener against Bashley FC.

Described as a ‘mixed-bag’ by Manager Lashenko during his interview on Official BMF TV this week, the Farm’s record reads W4 D1 L3 for pre-season – and Dicks believes that now is the time for the ‘real stuff’ as Farm look forward to visiting the New Forrest this weekend.

“I’ve never been a big fan of pre-season really,” started Dicks. “It’s all well and good for getting people fit for the new season, but what do you get at the end of the day? You don’t get your three points until the big games kick-off.

Pre-season hasn’t just been about the results for Manor Farm, with the club looking to strengthen its assets both on and off the field. The club welcomed Luke Stevens as the club’s new Physiotherapist, as well as the returning ‘Kitmen’ Phil Giles, Richard Lloyd, and John Chilcott. In addition, exciting attackers Evander Grubb and Marcus Day joined the most part of the Farm’s 2021/22 squad – and Dicks believes that adding quality will only help the club in their search for success this year.

“If you add quality to quality it’s always going to help,” Dicks said. “Competition for places will be higher than ever and we have to start the season as well as we finished last year.

“Even years and years ago, the Southern League was a tough old league, and it always has been. We know they (Bashley) will be a very tough side as they have the same aspirations as us – to reach the play offs or win the league – so we need to go there with the right frame of mind,” Dicks expressed.

One player who has been a standout for the Farm since his arrival is the master shot stopper, John. The experienced keeper collected the ‘Supporters Player of the Year’ accolade at the end of last season and is hoping for another stellar season in between the sticks at The Creek this season.

“Off the back of last year, everyone will be looking at us to be the big boys in the this year, and given time I think we will,” John proclaimed.

“We will go down to Bashley this Saturday with what we’ve got, and once we find our rhythm, I believe we will do very well.

“Collectively I think we have more depth this season, and with Marcus and Evander proving to be big impact players this pre-season we should be aiming to reach the play-offs as a minimum target for us.

The Portwaymen achieved their best finish in the league last season, with the highest home crowd recorded at The Creek – but had a patchy start to life in 2021/22. With the club setting their sights on the same goal, John feels that the Farm needs to replicate the form shown towards the end of last season right at the beginning of this one.

“We looked great last season both at the back and in attack,” John said. “If we can maintain that form early doors, get into our rhythm and show more consistency in our play then we’re heading for a successful season without a shadow of a doubt,” John expressed.