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Manager Luke Jessup hopes he can get Hollands & Blair fighting at the top end of the Southern Counties East Premier Division table next season

Hollands & Blair manager Luke Jessup was already building for next season before the club announced his temporary role was being made permanent.

Jessup took over as caretaker boss in January, following Scott Porter’s departure, and that agreement was soon extended until the end of this season. Before last weekend the Southern Counties East Premier Division side handed him the role permanently.

Hollands & Blair manager Luke Jessup has big ambitions for next season Picture: @hollandsblairfc
Hollands & Blair manager Luke Jessup has big ambitions for next season Picture: @hollandsblairfc

Jessup got to work straight away on reshaping the team, the structure and the training regime and is hoping to put together a team to challenge towards the top next season.

“I have said before that this is like a dream come true,” said Jessup.

“I had half an idea that they liked what we were doing, feedback was good from players, and we put on a good show recently against Faversham Town.

“We had won three on the bounce up until then. Faversham had a little bit more quality, were more ruthless, not necessarily great goals but Stefan Payne had a couple of tap-ins.

“We peppered Holmesdale at the weekend and could have been four or five up at half-time but their keeper was superb and got man-of-the-match.

“The club were keeping us on our toes by saying an announcement was due at the end of the season but I was preparing for next season from the day I took over.

“I had an idea of who we wanted to get in and we pretty much got them straight away.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind and we are now being contacted by players that want to come to us. We’ve had Faversham players, their bigger names, saying we’re one of the best footballing sides they had played.

“The comments we’ve had seem to be positive and we take a lot from that because there is nothing like being told you are doing a good job - that bit of recognition means a lot.”

Jessup has overseen a big change in personnel since taking over.

Dean Grant has returned to the attack while Chris Edwards was brought into the defence. Exciting forward Devonte West has thrilled the fans while Chatham loan pair Steve Gody and Jabari Christmas have both impressed.

Defensive midfielder Connor Dymond is another recent addition while experienced players Aaron Simpson and Rob Denness have stepped up from the reserves under Jessup’s tenure. Training has gone to twice a week while an analyst has already been recruited for next season.

Jessup said: “We are introducing things slowly into the changing room.

“We’ve made a general regime change to bring everything up a level and we’ve even got a couple of ice baths now. Just that extra one per cent here and there will make all the difference. Sometimes little things can be overlooked.

“We’re going for top-six next season, one million per cent getting geared up for that and we will do everything we can to give us a chance, with extra detail, care and preparation.”

On Saturday it needed a stoppage-time goal from Grant to claim a 1-1 draw at Holmesdale. Blair had been unable to make the most of their first-half dominance and went behind on 86 minutes.

Jessup is keen on a strong finish to their Premier Division season with three games left, making the trip to Kennington tomorrow (Friday) night, before games against Tunbridge Wells and Sutton Athletic. All three sides are below them in the table.

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