Lee Lashenko will lead his Bristol Manor Farm team out onto the pitch for their last league match of the 2022/23 Southern League Division One South season in a little over 48 hours when they travel to Westbury United’s Meadow Lane. Despite the challenges they have faced this season, the team still has a chance to achieve their goal of retaining their proud status, making for a potential fairytale ending to their campaign.
Following the club’s triumphant Western Premier League season in 2016/17, which saw them earn promotion to the Southern League, Bristol Manor Farm has experienced a range of emotions over the past few seasons, from the highs of historic cup runs in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy, as well as reaching last year’s playoff final, to the heartbreak of losing their former Chairman, Geoffrey Sellek.
It’s been a season of mixed fortunes for the Farmers, with some impressive performances and results, but also some that have put the club in danger of a potential relegation play-off if the final day’s results aren’t in favour of long-serving Manager Lashenko’s side.
In our latest interview, Lee Lashenko, who has been with the club for a long time, shared his thoughts and emotions about the upcoming dramatic finale of his 10th season as the club’s manager.
“When I first sat down with Geoff it was all about reaching the Southern League, and now it’s all about making sure we do everything in our power to secure that,” Lashenko began.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of a season, with its fair share of ups and downs, but we’re not going to let that define us. We still have a chance to retain our league status, and that’s the only thing on our minds right now.
After Evesham United’s impressive win over Willand Rovers on Wednesday evening, the outcome of Bideford’s crucial match against Bishops Cleeve on Thursday night is eagerly anticipated. Lashenko is confident that the integrity of the league will play a significant role in determining which teams avoid the possibility of a relegation play-off by Saturday evening.
“Colly (Paul Collicutt) is a great manager who has been there and done it all for clubs across the divisions. Having seen first-hand the sides that he has produced in the past, as well as this season, I know they will have full respect for the division by going to Bideford looking to get all three points,” Lashenko expressed.
With Lymington also positioned in the bottom four of the division, Lashenko also believes that there couldn’t be two better clubs to honour their seasons in Cinderford Town and Slimbridge AFC.
“We know that the task on Saturday is enormous, but not impossible,” said Lashenko.
“Nonetheless, the level of class and respect that Cinderford or Slimbridge will exhibit in their final game of the season could have a significant impact on determining which four teams might face a relegation play-off.
“As we saw with our recent match against them, Cinderford are a club with many great people connected with the club and we know they will be looking to end the season on a positive note when Willand head there on Saturday.
“Tom Deakin, the new Swans Manager, is demonstrating his ability to produce positive outcomes with their resurgence, and the same applies to him.
“In my opinion, Saturday’s outcome will be a genuine representation of the entire season, and we understand that our only option is to focus on our own performance and strive to achieve a positive result at Westbury,” Lashenko said.
The Farmy Army’s support for the club and its players has been incredible, and we’re looking forward to seeing you all come out in full force for our last league game of the 2022/23 Southern League season.
As the saying goes, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”