Paine pleased with EP progress at halfway stage

Bob Paine has been pleased with East Preston so far on their return to the SCFL Premier Division. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Bob Paine has been pleased with East Preston so far on their return to the SCFL Premier Division. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Bob Paine assessed East Preston Football Club’s first season back in the Southern Combination League Premier Division so far and said: “I’m happy with the progress we have made.”

EP finished third in Division 1 last term - ensuring they returned to the SCFL Premier Division at the first attempt.

For Paine and the vast majority of his playing squad, this is the first time they’ve played this high but the transition appears to have been quite smooth thus far.

East Preston sit 15th in the table - collecting 21 points from 20 games - and Paine wants to see a decent base built on.

He said: “There has only been a couple of games where I have been disappointed with our level of performance, apart from that we have been competitive.

“I sometimes forget how young our squad is and, with inexperience comes inconsistent performance levels, which shows itself in some of our results.

“We have beaten some of the top sides in this league so far but also lost to teams around the bottom.

“We have been taught some harsh lessons, primarily that mistakes get punished much more in this division than they did last season in Division 1.”

East Preston were dealt a blow when forward Jared Rance departed The Lashmar for Bostik League Premier Division Worthing earlier in the campaign.

But Paine has been delighted with the way East Preston have adjusted after losing such an influential player.

He added: “We added some quality to the squad in the summer and, as the season has progressed, which has made us a stronger squad.

“Inevitably we have lost some of the players from last season as this one has gone on but, to be honest, only one was a big loss to us. Jared (Rance) progressed to a team two-divisions higher, so went with our best wishes.”

When Paine was appointed manager back in 2015, East Preston had just one other side than the first-team.

Now - just over 18 months into his tenure - EP have two under-18 teams, an under-21 side and a thriving academy.

Paine sees this another positive move in the right direction for the club and said: “The club is in a much more stable and sustainable place now than it was when I came in at the beginning of last season. There is a buzz about the place and to come down on a Saturday morning to see large numbers of boys and girls playing and enjoying their football is great to see.

“I have an excellent coaching team behind me who put on some first class sessions and for me East Preston FC are one of the best set up clubs in the SCFL.”

East Preston were without a game across the festive period, after their scheduled league home league clash with bottom side Littlehampton Town was postponed owing to a waterlogged pitch on Saturday. EP head into 2018 fresh, having not been in action since December, 19, and go to Hassocks on Saturday.