Tom Holmes is relishing the challenge of his first senior football role as a coach at Whitstable.
Holmes, added to the Oystermen’s first-team ranks last campaign, is now part of the Southern Counties East Premier Division club’s management team alongside boss Marcel Nimani, Nimani’s No.2 Craig Coles and club analyst Ben Maci.
“I’m really enjoying it,” said Holmes. “The boys are fantastic. Marcel, Craig, Ben and myself, we have got a great working relationship.
“It’s been my first experience in senior football. I had previously worked in youth football.
“It’s been a challenge for me to push on as a coach but it’s been good.”
Holmes highlighted the need to ensure training sessions are kept fresh for Whitstable’s senior players as one of the main new challenges in the adult game.
“It’s different,” he explained. “In youth football, a lot of my focus has been on development, especially at the young ages. You still have an element of that with some of the young lads.
“The likes of the Dan Easons and Jake Mackenzies, they’re great to have around, but it’s about trying to keep it fresh for them. They would have worked under a few coaches in their time!
“That’s a big part of trying to keep those players engaged and focused. That’s the big difference for me.”
The Oystermen extended their unbeaten streak to six matches with a fourth straight league success, 4-0 at Lordswood last weekend as they kept former Whitstable striker James Jeffrey quiet.
Holmes said: “It was one we looked at and thought it could be a tricky fixture. Lordswood tends to be a sticky fixture for us especially.
“But the performance was excellent and the result was there, as well, so we were really chuffed.
“We all know about JJ from when he was with us before. We know what fantastic goal-scoring form he has been in.
“But we looked at how to keep him quiet and we managed to do that. We managed the game really well.”
The game came days after Matt Barman surprisingly left Lordswood.
“It was a bit of a shock to hear that Matt had left,” noted 32-year-old Holmes. “You don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes.
“But from the statement he released, he wasn’t happy with a few things there. They played some good football.
“They had got some really good results recently, including a draw and a win against Faversham when they didn’t concede a goal. All credit to the work Matt had done.
“In terms of going into Saturday’s game, you never know how their players are going to react - whether it hits them a little bit or they just carry on.
“Whether that had an effect on the game, I don’t know - but we were effective, turning up for three points which is what we got.”
Winger Josh Williams led the way with a brace at Lordswood as fellow midfielder Josh Oliver and hitman Harvey Smith also netted to move them to within just three points of the summit.
The return of frontman Steadman Callender from a lengthy injury lay-off has been a big boost, too.
Holmes said: “It’s great to have him back.
“We have got so many choices around who’s going to play in our front four. But Steadman has been really professional and carries himself really well. He’s a credit to himself.
“When he does come on, he works really hard for the team. He even got a couple of assists - not last game but the one before against Bearsted.”
Next up for the Oystermen is a home fixture against Holmesdale, who have progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Vase, this Saturday.
“We’re just going through that process of assessing what Holmesdale are going to be like,” said Holmes, with Whitstable due to visit Kennington in the Challenge Cup on Tuesday. “I think they have recruited fairly well.
“Again, it will be a challenge. But our home form has been really strong, to be honest.
“Hopefully, we can come up with the right ingredients.”