With Whitstable finally assured of Ryman League Division 1 South football again next season, manager Nicky Southall plans to give youth a chance in the final league game at Eastbourne Town.
Although the Oystermen lost 4-2 at home to Three Bridges on Easter Monday, Sittingbourne’s 3-2 victory at Redhill ensured Whitstable’s survival and Southall’s team selection for this Saturday will reflect that he is already looking ahead to next August.
He said: “We’ve obviously got to rebuild now and the biggest plus this season has been the under-21 side, who have been fantastic.
Nicky Southall will trust his younger players against Eastbourne. Picture - Chris Davey
“I have already brought several of them through to the first team and that will happen again on Saturday because they deserve it.”
The under-21 side are strongly placed to win the Ryman Under-21 League, despite regularly losing players to the first-team squad, after beating leaders Burgess Hill 4-1 last Saturday.
Southall said: “Players like Aaron Simpson have been a revelation, with several League clubs having had a look at him, and we’ve got a lot of young kids who have already got 20 to 30 first-team games under their belts.”
"Players like Aaron Simpson have been a revelation, with several League clubs having had a look at him..." - Nicky Southall
Southall felt that the two defeats his side suffered over the Easter weekend, 3-1 at Hastings United on Saturday followed by Monday’s home reverse, were partly attributable to what has been a gruelling end of season run-in for his squad.
He said: “It looked like the season had caught up with us and, although I don’t want to harp on about it, playing nearly 20 games in two months is a huge, huge ask.
“Even full-time professionals wouldn’t do it so in that respect, although where we are in the league is disappointing.”
The Oystermen round off their season against an Eastbourne Town side who are already certain of finishing bottom of the table.