Football: Cuckoos have to leave their nest early

Action from Peterborough Sports 7-0 win over Yaxley. Photo: Stephen Cooper.
Action from Peterborough Sports 7-0 win over Yaxley. Photo: Stephen Cooper.

New Yaxley manager Ian Benjamin admits the United Counties Premier Division season could be starting a week too soon for his re-vamped side.

The Cuckoos kick-off the new season at Harborough Town tonight (July 31, 7.45pm) as part of the ‘Groundhopper weekend,’ a series of matches arranged to tempt non-league football fanatics to visit new pastures.

Yaxley finished fourth in the Premier Division last season, 16 places ahead of tomorrow’s opponents, but former Posh striker Benjamin is expecting a tough test.

And not just because his side suffered a 7-0 friendly drubbing at First Division side Peterborough Sports last weekend (July 25).

“I’m not reading anything into that result,” Benjamin insisted. “My goalkeeper dropped out at the last minute.

“Few of my players did themselves justice, but at the end of the day it was a friendly.

“I’m more concerned about the future. We have seven senior players likely to be missing because of injuries and holidays, and from what I can gather Harborough will be much improved this season.

“They beat a decent Corby side 4-1 last week which was a great result whereas I could probably do with another week to prepare.

“It’s been a difficult pre-season for us because we’ve had so many injuries and unavailabilities, but it is what it is and we will get on with it.

“It will definitely be a very tough game at Harborough, but we will prepare well and we will be ready.

“Longer-term I expect us to improve on last season’s position. I have a lot of confidence in the squad.”

Biggest injury concern for Benjamin is his marquee summer signing from Peterborough Northern Star, striker Phil Stebbing who has been struggling with a persistant knee injury for the last month.

Lewis Stone and John-Paul Duncliffe are among the other Yaxley players who may miss out tomorrow.

Former Posh defender Duncliffe has an outside chance of being fit.

The ‘Ground Hopper’ matches are staggered over the weekend to enable those interested to visit several matches.

After an early start at Ketton v Netherton in the Peterborough Premier Division on Saturday (August 1, 10.45am), Blackstones host Rushden & Higham in United Counties Division One (1.45pm) and Stamford Bels take on Wittering in Division One of the Peterborough League (4.30pm)

On Sunday Peterborough Division Two matches at Oundle (2pm) and King’s Cliffe (5pm) complete the Ground Hopper programme.

Pick of the Saturday. friendlies is a derby between Peterborough Sports and Peterborough Northern Star (2pm kick off).

Sports are currently on fire. David Cobb (3), Jordan MacLeod (2) and Olly Medwynter (2) scored the goals in a 7-0 hammering of Yaxley last weekend.

Forthcoming fixtures:

Friday, July 31

United Counties Premir Division: Harborough Town v Yaxley.

Saturday, August 1

United Counties Division One: Blackstones v Rushden & Higham

Peterborough League Premier Division: Ketton v Netherton United.

Division One: Stamford Bels v Wittering.

Wilf Notley Memorial Cup: Bourne v Stamford.

Friendlies: Deeping Rangers v Fakenham, Holbeach v Lincoln United, Peterborough Sports v Peterborough Northern Star.

Sunday August 2

Peterborough League Division One: Oundle v Baston, King’s Cliffe v Stamford Lions.

Tuesday, August 4

Friendlies: Deeping Rangers v Stilton United, Peterborough Northern Star v Spalding United.