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Ground Share Agreement For Suma's - 10 June

Wokingham Bob Good with Bracknell Town chairman Kayne Steinborn-BusseWokingham & Emmbrook have completed a ground share agreement with Bracknell Town for the 2018/19 season.

The Suma's had been provisionally granted a spot in the coming season’s Uhlsport Hellenic Division One East, but a stricter stance on laws from the FA means they have to play at a different ground until Lowther Road is deemed suitable.

It had initially been feared that Dan Bateman’s men may have to take voluntary relegation into step seven, similar to Finchampstead last year. But they have now managed to negotiate to make Bracknell their temporary home ahead of a planned return to Lowther Road in 2019. It is not the first time Wokingham have played home matches at Bracknell, having played there back in 2010 to allow them to play in the Hellenic Premier Division.

While being handed a spot to remain at the same level will be seen as a relief to the Suma's, the news certainly comes as a blow, having worked so hard to bring football back to the borough and they hoped the FA would give them an extra year to bring the ground up to the required standard.

Following ground shares at places such as Egham and Henley as well as Bracknell, Wokingham finally got the green light from the council to begin building work at Lowther Road in July 2016 after negotiations that went on for over a decade. Those plans included installing a 100-seater stand and floodlights, which would put them in line to compete at step five, should they achieve promotion back to the Hellenic Premier. Despite that permission, the floodlights have still not been installed, meaning Wokingham had to find a compliant G Grade ground in the interim, otherwise take voluntary relegation into the Thames Valley League.

And following an internal meeting last week led by chairman Steve Williams, plans were finalised with Bracknell chairman Kayne Steinborn-Busse following discussions on Friday evening and into Saturday.

“Wokingham and Emmbrook are committed to playing at step six next season and we will groundshare,” said club secretary Bob Good. “We will develop Lowther Road to stay at step six in the following season and we are aiming to be where we should be at step five.”

Another change comes off the pitch with Mark Ashwell reappointed as president, heading up the application process ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

Bateman will remain in charge of the first team under the same management structure as the season just gone with possible additions to come. Suma's Reserves will remain in the Thames Valley Premier League and will continue to play matches at Lowther Road.

Tom Crocker - Wokingham Today


Planning Ahead - 15 February

Wokingham and Emmbrook still have several matches left of this campaign, but manager Dan Bateman is already planning for the next one.

And he has warned his players  they are now playing for places for next season." Speaking to Dave Wright after the Sumas had defeated Didcot Town Reserves 4-2 in Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East last Saturday, Bateman revealed: "This season has been about consolidating and building again, but now I am planning for next season."

And, following the arrival of several new players to strengthen his squad, he believes his side is capable of finishing the current term on a high. He added: "This win keeps us in fourth place and I certainly haven't given up on getting into the top three. If we do that, it will be a good season for us." Bateman is hoping his side will continue to play as well as they did in the first half on Saturday when they stormed into a four-goal lead but struggled to maintain their performance after the interval.

He commented: "I was really pleased with the result. Even in the warm-up, I thought we looked good today and in the first half, we were excellent.  There was a lot of energy about us and we made a good start to the game, so I was pleased with that. The second half was a bit more difficult, but when you go 4-0 up by half-time you can get a bit sloppy. Their (Didcot) first goal was okay, but their second we gifted it to them and the game then got a bit scrappy, but the difficult conditions didn't help and we were up against a decent side.”

The Sumas manager continued: “I have a squad of 20 players, so I have to leave four or five out each week, which means I have even more of a headache when selecting the team. But that is how it should be if players go away because of other commitments, they have to fight to get back their place.  As I've said, players are now playing for their places in next season's squad, so I am hoping we finish this season well.”

josh harris wokingham hellenic league footballSchoolboy Josh Harris (pictured) celebrated his first-team debut with a goal as Wokingham & Emmbrook defeated Didcot Town Reserves 4-2 at Lowther Road on Saturday. The 16-year-old Reading Blue Coat pupil has been with the club since he was 12 and was part of the club's highly-successful under-16 squad. More recently, he's turned out for the reserves, scoring four goals in one game.

"I have been receiving rave reviews about young Josh and this was a perfect opportunity to play him as I knew Didcot would also come with a load of young lads,” said manager Bateman. "We need to protect him a bit, but he has bags of talent, his energy levels were good and he got a goal, so it was a very pleasing debut for him.”

He was joined on the goal-sheet by Sam Lawrence-Whiting, with two, and Chris Robson. Sumas, who dominated the first half, netted three times in the opening 20 minutes and added a fourth before the break with recent-signing Jake White helping to set up three of the goals. “Jake has come in and done well. He looked sharp today and is a big addition to our squad,” commented Bateman.

Sumas travel to Chinnor this Saturday looking to complete a double, having beaten them 3-1 at Lowther Road last month. "They are a good side, so we will have to be on our best there. We will need to play like we did in the first half today,” commented Bateman.

His team remain fourth in the table, but he says: “We haven't given up hope of getting into third place.”


dan batemen wokingham manager hellenic leagueNo Excuses - 30 November

Dan Batmen offered no excuses after Wokingham & Emmbrook had lost 1-0 to Wallingford Town in their Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East encounter at Lowther Road on Saturday.

"We let ourselves down. We were disappointing all over the pitch, we were just not really at the races today," admitted the Sumas manager to Dave Wright. His side went into the game having won 2-0 at Wallingford two weeks earlier before hammering Henley 4-0 in the Reading Senior Cup.

Batemen, pictured, added: "I have told the players several times that when we turn up and play well we are capable of beating anybody. But if we don't turn up and give everything, then we are liable to get beat and that is what happened today."

Wallingford were much the better side throughout and created enough chances to have added to their 21st-minute winner from Ben Matthews after the Town had failed to cut out crosses from Wallingford's left and then the right. The fact they conceded just the solitary goal was largely due to a string of fine saves by keeper Sean Woodard. He was beaten late in the second half by James Spruyt, but the crossbar came to his rescue.

"Woody was the best player on the park by a mile, without him we would have lost by more," Bateman commented."We have had three good performances in a row, but today we let ourselves down a bit, that was disappointing. We need to get some consistency. We play well for three weeks and then throw in a bad performance like this one."

The Sumas were missing seven players, however, the manager didn't offer that as an excuse as he felt "the players we had out there should have been good enough to get a result, but we were poor. If you play like that you deserve to get beat." Like most sides, Wokingham are suffering from players unable to play for a variety of reasons, but as Bateman points out: "this is a problem for all managers at this level, even the level above, especially at this time of the year.

"If we can get availability right, so players are there week in, week out then we should be capable of putting together a run of performances," said the manager. "I still think we can get involved in the top-end of the table."

Wokingham came close to snatching a point when James Charlton rattled the crossbar in stoppage time, but Bateman stated: "I would have taken it, but we wouldn't have deserved it. It was a poor performance all-round from us." Their fifth defeat in 11 games, leaves Sumas seventh in the table with 16 points, but they have at least a match in hand on all the sides above them, including fifth-placed Holyport, their opponents at Summerleaze next Saturday (3pm ko). "That will be another tough game for us as Holyport battle hard and will be strong."

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