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Safety Secured - 20 April

As they set off on their final away game of the season, Tuffley Rovers will be in party mood, after local rivals Longlevens’ win over Reading City today ensured that Mark Pritchett’s side had secured Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division football for the 2019/20 season.

However, it will be a depleted Rovers squad that make the trip to Flackwell Heath on Saturday, with Warren Mann and Jake Rhodes injured, whilst Macaulay Herbert, Brad Loveridge, Luke Payne and Rhys Davies are all unavailable for a variety of reasons. So, with Paul Carter also suspended, Pritchett is left short of numbers, although one position is likely to have the most profound effect on the Rovers boss. Luke Merchant is travelling with the squad but might not be fit to play, which leaves Pritchett with a problem, given that reserve keeper Dan Brabham is unavailable for selection. It could mean Pritchett may don the gloves himself, making an appearance in goal for the third consecutive season.

Thankfully, the Levens win on Friday afternoon has ensured the lingering threat of relegation has passed, meaning that Pritchett will have the opportunity to look at some of the club’s younger players over the weekend. Reserve team players Shay Lyons and Jack Ellis have both been added to the squad, whilst Essa Sabally returns, after a spell out of the first team squad, and with all three players under 20 years of age, Pritchett knows he will be fielding a very young squad. Joel White, Pritchett, Sam Hill and Brett James aside, Pritchett’s squad is full of U20s and the manager himself is the elder statesman, at 30 years of age!

The two sides meet just three weeks after playing out a 1-1 draw at Glevum Park, over a busy weekend for Rovers, who will host Fairford Town, as part of the Hellenic League’s Groundhop on Monday, 22 April.


Versatility Is Key - 13 April

Tuffley Rovers are within touching distance of securing their place in the 2019/20 Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division, with only a disastrous series of results in the closing weeks of the season capable of pushing them back into the relegation places, as they welcome the division’s form team, Shrivenham, to Glevum Park today.

When Mark Pritchett’s side travelled to tomorrow’s visitors in late-October, the two sides looked set for a tough season, with Gareth Davies’ side bottom of the table and Rovers two points ahead of them. By the end of that game, a late Sean McKeon winner, gave ten-man Shrivenham the three points, pushing them above Rovers and they’ve moved steadily up the table ever since. Both sides now have three games to play and a remarkable run of form – fourteen wins from their last sixteen games and no defeats – has propelled Shrivenham to fifth place, 27 points clear of Rovers, who lie in 16th place. That gap will tell Pritchett that his side, who need a point to achieve mathematical certainty that they are safe from the drop, are in for a tough challenge, but Pritchett still believes his charges can gain revenge for that earlier defeat and achieve safety at the same time.

“Shrivenham have been on a brilliant run, going sixteen unbeaten, having been bottom when we played them last”, he confirmed. “Despite that, I believe we are in good form ourselves and are capable of putting an end to their long unbeaten run. As we aren’t 100% safe, we know we need the points, so there is a real incentive to perform and get a result.”

Injuries and non-availability have forced Pritchett to regularly change his line-up during the season but they have collected fifteen points from their last seven home games, an unbeaten run dating back to the start of the New Year, and the Rovers boss owes much of that excellent form to an increasing level of versatility in his squad. Luke Payne, Rhys Davies and Luke Troke have all joined the squad since the October defeat against Shrivenham and all three have shown a capability to play in numerous positions, giving Pritchett plenty of options when selecting his squad. Payne should be back in the squad for this afternoon’s game, after missing the win against Binfield last time out, although another player who has filled a number of positions, Sam Hill, is unavailable. Brad Loveridge is also absent, whilst Dominik Kent is back in the frame, after a couple of outings for the Reserves since he too missed that win against Binfield.

With the opportunity to shape their own destiny – as well as the potential to finish as high as 12th still a possibility – Rovers have plenty to play for and when the game kicks off at Glevum Park (3pm), Pritchett will almost certainly field a squad versatile and capable enough to leave him confident that they’ll rise to meet the challenge posed by Davies’ visiting team.


Home Form Key To Rovers Safety Hopes - 30 March

After taking one point from their first six league games, then thirteen points from nineteen, Tuffley Rovers could complete a remarkable turnaround in their 2018/19 season, if they can continue an excellent run of home form when Binfield visit Glevum Park this afternoon.

Since losing at home to Royal Wootton Bassett Town on 15 December, Rovers have gone on a run of three wins and three draws in their past six home league games, which has helped salvage their Hellenic League Premier Division season, so manager Mark Pritchett will be hoping that the excellent run of form continues tomorrow and his side secure a win that might prove enough to save their season.

Whilst their performances across the seven away games - played over the same period - have been positive, the results have been less impressive and have yielded only five points. So, when Binfield visit tomorrow, the hosts will be looking to build on their home form.

The 12 points from the undefeated home sequence, coupled with a more meagre return of 5 points from the away games during that spell, have made up over half of Rovers’ 31 league points, as they have slowly climbed the table, with three sides now beneath them in the battle to avoid relegation.With two of those sides - Abingdon United and Longlevens - playing each other, Saturday’s game against Binfield offers The Rovers the chance to take a huge step towards safety. However, it will be a tough test given that Roger Herridge’s costing side beat Rover 4-2 just two weeks ago.

That game saw Rovers put in what Pritchett described as their worst performance of 2019 and although they reached the interval with scores level at 2-2, a poor second half ultimately led to them returning home empty handed. However, after a depleted squad secured another valuable point against Flackwell Heath last week, the return of Adam Bloomfield, Brad Loveridge, Will Dawes, Tyreece Briscoe and potentially Paul Carter, who has been out with injury, should mean Rovers have plenty of options in their quest to beat one of the division’s form teams.

Today’s game at Glevum Park will kick-off at 3pm. Around 4:45pm, Rovers should have a better idea of the challenge they face for the remainder of the season.


Pritchett Pleased To Have Plenty Of Options - 23 March

Mark Pritchett is glad to have plenty of strength in depth at Tuffley Rovers, as he looks to collect the points needed to secure his side’s place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division, starting with the visit of Flackwell Heath this afternoon.

After some encouraging performances, matched by the accumulation of vital points against some of the division’s high-flying teams, Rovers succumbed to a disappointing 4-2 reverse at Binfield last weekend, leaving Pritchett’s side still very much at risk of relegation, although the Rovers boss sees his side’s most recent outing as more of a ‘blip’ than a source of serious concern.

“I thought that our performance on Saturday was the poorest we’ve produced since the turn of the year”, Pritchett reflected. “We simply didn’t turn up and got what we deserved against a decent Binfield side. Flackwell will be a difficult test for us, they’re always a decent physical side”, he explained. “We need to dust ourselves down and go again, with five more very important games to go now, we know we can get over the line but our performance levels need to be high, to make sure.”

After having a fairly settled squad in recent months, Pritchett goes into Saturday’s game with a few players unavailable, meaning he will be calling on some players from the club’s reserve team, who have been playing well in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League and put together a run of ten games unbeaten.

Luke Troke, who made an excellent full debut in the win against Lydney Town, is back involved after scoring four times for the second team in their last four games, and he will be joined by Shay Lyons, Harry Walker and Will Emery, all promoted to fill gaps associated with injury and unavailability. Cheltenham Town Academy scholars Will Dawes, Tyreece Briscoe and the newly added Olly Price are all away with their parent club for the weekend, Brad Loveridge is unavailable and Henry Birkett has left the club, to return to one of his former clubs, Quedgeley Wanderers.

In addition, Paul Carter is struggling with a muscle injury and is unlikely to feature, whilst Ashley Bird has a knock and is also doubtful. Add to this Adam Bloomfield’s call-up to the County FA U18 squad, making him unavailable for selection and Pritchett is delighted with the strength in-depth, having added the four reserve team players, as well as the returning Luke Payne and fit again Sam Hill into his selection plans.

“Our reserve team has been doing well and all of the lads coming into the squad have first team experience”, Pritchett added. “It is a testament to the options we have that we’ll have a strong side out, despite so many people being unavailable for this game. I’m confident these lads will do the business for us.”


Brimscombe Return, As Rovers Continue Fight To Survive - 9 March

For the fourth time in nineteen days, Tuffley Rovers will play one of the top four sides in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division knowing that they’ll need to be at their best if they are to secure points that could prove pivotal to their fight for survival. The sequence of games against the division’s top teams that started with a visit to Brimscombe & Thrupp will end on Saturday, with the current league leaders making the return visit to Glevum Park.

This will be the second time the two sides have met at Glevum Park this season and Rovers will be looking to avoid a similar outcome to the Floodlit Cup tie in early December, when they conceded an equalising goal on the cusp of full-time, before their visitors scored six times in the additional 30 minutes’ extra-time. When the sides met at The Meadow on 19 February, Rovers looked well set to avenge that chastening defeat, as they held a half-time lead courtesy of Kieran Alder’s deflected free-kick, but a James Campbell brace in the second period proved enough for Sam Prior’s side to take the points on that occasion.

Fast forward to this weekend and Rovers’ boss Mark Pritchett will be hoping that the improving trend might finally help his team secure some points, as they look to continue an impressive spell of form that has helped them start to move above the automatic relegation spots. The previous three recent games against the top four – the trip to Brimscombe, as well as a game at Wantage Town, prior to last week’s draw with Bishops Cleeve – have yielded just one point, but with a goal difference of just minus two the statistics back up Pritchett’s belief that his side have been continuing the form necessary to take them away from danger.

“We are delighted with our form and we’ve started to turn Glevum Park into a fortress. We feel the two defeats against Brimscombe and Wantage should have been at least draws”, he confirmed.

Rovers’ boss is still overseeing a young squad, with an average age under 23 years old, but he and his Assistant, Rich Cox (who took over from Alex O’Leary midway through the season), believe that their young group are starting to show the potential that has been evident to many through the course of this season. “We’ve reintegrated Brad Loveridge, after a spell in the Reserves, and added Luke Troke to the squad recently, and both have done well”, Pritchett confirmed. “They’ve created more competition, so that we now have 18-20 players consistently competing for the sixteen places in the squad. That, in turn, has created genuine competition for places but it seems the lads enjoying fighting for their places and there is a really good feeling that they understand this is a squad effort.”

Saturday’s visitors currently lead the Premier Division table and with just five games to go, they’ll arrive at Rovers’ home with a determination to complete a treble of victories in the current season. Their visit comes off the back of a victory over Virginia Water, seven days after a defeat at Holmer Green, which was their only other game since beating Pritchett’s side. Whilst five wins won’t be enough to guarantee Prior’s side the title, as Wantage Town have games in hand, it will put them in sight of an achievement that would be an extraordinary achievement.
So, whatever the teams’ respective positions, both sides come into the game with their eye on a victory that could have a significant influence on their fortunes for the remainder of the season.


Objectives Come Together At Glevum Park - 2 March

When Steve Cleal’s title challenging Bishops Cleeve squad arrive at Glevum Park today, they will come up against a Tuffley side twelve places and twenty-seven points behind them, but with the same aspirations for a result that could be a significant milestone in their season, to date.

Since Mark Pritchett’s Tuffley Rovers squad succumbed to a narrow defeat at Cleeve, back in late-November, they found themselves deep in trouble, with only thirteen points from the opening eighteen league games of the season. By contrast, Cleal’s side had thirty points from two games fewer. Rovers’ ten games since has seen them take points from seven, taking them to a total of twenty-six and a little higher up the table, although they are far from safe. When they arrive at Glevum Park, Cleeve’s form will show that their eleven games over the same period have accumulated twenty-three points and they are unbeaten in eight league games; a run which has very much increased their hopes of securing the Uhlsport Hellenic League title, as they sit eight points from the leaders, with three games in-hand.

Kieran Alder scored twice in Tufffley’s 4-1 victory over  Lydney Town
on 26/2/19 - Image courtesy of  Brian Rossiter @BrianRossiter1 So, two teams who are in good form will meet at Rovers’ home with a genuine appetite for victory, but with totally different aspirations, as far as the impact that securing three points might have. Pritchett’s side are in buoyant mood, despite two defeats – by the narrowest of margins, against the league’s top two teams – that were sandwiched in between a thumping 4-0 victory over Ardley United and a 4-1 triumph over Lydney Town, on Tuesday evening.

Whilst a much improved defensive record has been a feature of Rovers’ recent form, with just seven goals conceded in the last seven league games – in contrast to a record that saw them concede fourteen in the seven games prior to that. The defensively solidity that has been evident of late will be tested to the full against a Bishops Cleeve side who will visit with their squad brim full of goalscoring potential, including Brad Martin and Elliot Kennedy, who have scored 47 goals between them in all competitions. Jack Watt’s 15 goals mean that the visitors on Saturday will have three players who have scored more than Rovers’ leading marksman.

However, as well as the improved ‘goals against’ column, Rovers have set about improving their ‘goals for’, with one player catching the eye in particular, as a former Cleeve player, Kieran Alder, has found the net six times in his past four appearances, taking his season’s total to eleven, making the diminutive midfielder Rovers’ top scorer. Alder is one of several players lining up against their former club, with Cleeve’s side likely to include a number of former Rovers players, and Pritchett believes his young midfielder is a threat to Cleeve’s hopes.

“A little while ago, we took Kieran out of the side, because we needed to change a few things, and when he got back in, I told Kieran I wanted to see a response”, said Pritchett. “That response has been spot-on, because Kieran has been excellent in recent weeks.” Pritchett also believes that Alder is one of a number of players who are starting to realise their potential, after a tough campaign, to date. “For a young lad Kieran has a great attitude and works hard. He’s someone who has the potential to play a much higher level in the future, but we’ve got a really good young squad that are starting to show they’re capable of competing at this level”, he concluded.

After their midweek win, Rovers head into the game with a largely unchanged squad, meaning youngsters Brad Loveridge and Luke Troke are likely to feature again, after stepping up from the reserve team squad for the game against Lydney Town. Rhys Davies and Sam Hill remain injury doubts but may feature.


Rovers Looking To Regain Momentum - 22 February

Despite a defeat at leaders Brimscombe & Thrupp on Tuesday evening, bringing to an end their six match unbeaten run in the league, Tuffley Rovers came away from the contest in good spirits, after more than matching their high-flying hosts to the extent that they received considerable praise from the opposition manager, Sam Prior.

However, the absence of points left Rovers’ boss, Mark Pritchett, frustrated, with his squad immersed in a battle to climb away from the relegation places in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division. “I was left with a sense of frustration by the result on Tuesday night but I was really pleased with the performance and the level of effort we put into the game”, Pritchett reflected. “We more than held our own against the league leaders, but a couple of lapses in concentration in the early stages of the second-half has cost us.”

Tuesday’s outing saw a debut for Ross Langworthy, signed on a dual registration basis from Southern League Yate Town, which added strength to Pritchett’s squad, although he will return to his parent club this weekend, at a time when Pritchett has lost a few players to injuries or work commitments. “Brett James will be out for a few weeks, after he picked up a shoulder injury at Ascot, and Sam Hill injured his groin against Ardley United”, he confirmed. “We lost Will Dawes and Tyreece Briscoe in midweek, due to commitments they had with Cheltenham Town, and Jack Phillips has been missing for a while now, due to work commitments.” In addition, recent signing Adam Bloomfield may be unavailable this weekend - due to County FA commitments - but despite all these issues, Pritchett believes his side can continue their good form and translate that into valuable league points, starting at second place Wantage Town on Saturday, with third place Bishops Cleeve visiting Glevum Park seven days’ later; not to mention a midweek fixture at Glevum Park against Lydney Town, sandwiched in-between, on Tuesday evening.

“Brimscombe dug deep on Tuesday and showed why they’re top of this league, but we matched them for much of the game”, he added. “We’ve got games coming thick and fast, none of them easy, but we’ll look to go again and continue the good form we’ve shown since the turn of the year.”

Dawes and Briscoe should be available for the visit to Wantage Town, whilst Hill is recovering well and if he doesn’t make Saturday’s game might well be fit to return to action for Tuesday evening’s fixture, as Rovers look to accumulate the points need to secure their place in the league, potentially affecting the title challengers fortunes in the process.


Pritchett Looking For Cup Final Performances - 16 February

Tuffley Rovers will go into today’s Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division game with Ardley United looking to extend their five game unbeaten run in the league, with manager Mark Pritchett calling on his squad to deliver performances in their final twelve league games, as though they were cup finals, in an effort to secure the points needed to avoid relegation.

Since defeat at home to Royal Wootton Bassett Town on 15 December, Rovers have managed four draws – at Windsor, Virginia Water and last week at Ascot United, as well as a home draw with Holmer Green on 5 January – and a win at Reading City three weeks ago. That run hasn’t drastically altered their league position, but the seven points gained have kept Pritchett’s charges off the foot of the table and drawn them closer to the sides above them, including Saturday’s visitors to Glevum Park.

The Rovers boss has found himself lamenting results, rather than performances, in the season to date and his team are finally accruing points, after two miserable spells, where points were at a premium, earlier in the season. Last week’s draw at high-flying Ascot might easily have been converted to a much needed win, although there was still a risk that Rovers would return empty handed too, but Pritchett was buoyant about the performance and believes his team will move away from trouble if the application shown can be matched in their twelve remaining games. “It was a really positive result for us”, Pritchett enthused. “We could have won it, but we are just pleased to have secured another point, remain unbeaten and we now move on to face Ardley United, with our focus on taking all three points.”

Rovers’ form has coincided with the return of Warren Mann, after a serious injury, although the addition of Cheltenham Town youngsters Tyreece Briscoe and Will Dawes has also made a difference, whilst Pritchett has also been pleased with the improvement in defence, with Rhys Davies and Joel White, now reunited alongside the excellent Macaulay Herbert, influential in the improved run of form. Pritchett has also added Slimbridge’s prolific U18 striker, Adam Bloomfield, to the squad and although he only made a brief appearance against Ascot United, coming on with ten minutes remaining, the Rovers boss feels that the seventeen-year-old could have an important role to play.

“Dominik Kent scored last week, to become our top scorer, but he has only scored six times in all competitions, and it is no surprise that we needed a goalscorer”, Pritchett confirmed. “We believe Adam can make a difference and be a key part of our run in, as we try to climb up the table.”

Ardley United arrive at Glevum Park unbeaten in their last three league games – with one win and two draws, including a 3-3 scoreline recorded against Longlevens last weekend – and sitting 8 points above Rovers, albeit having played a game more. They beat Rovers 2-1 earlier in the season and Pritchett is hoping his team can exact a little revenge for the defeat on that occasion. “We are looking to put things right, after the defeat at their place”, he added. “Their form has been up and down but they’ve got points on the board and they will make it difficult for us. I believe we are capable of taking the points if we continue the form we have been showing.”


Rovers Face Ascot Hurdle - 9 February

After a challenging season, included a spell which saw his side go without a league win for over three months, Mark Pritchett takes his squad to high-flying Ascot United today on the back of a four game unbeaten streak that has secured valuable points in Tuffley Rovers’ battle against relegation from the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division. When they last played, fourteen days ago at Reading City, goals from Jake Rhodes and Brett James proved sufficient to secure a first win since October, a result that followed three consecutive draws, against Windsor, Holmer Green and Virginia Water.

By contrast, Saturday’s hosts started their season in terrific form but have struggled in recent league games, taking just five points from their last five league fixtures, although they have shown much better form in several cup ties since the turn of the year. The fixture will see Rovers making one of their longest journeys of the season, as they cover a 188 mile round-trip, to face a side who they recorded a good point against when the two sides met at Glevum Park in early November. On that occasion, prolific striker Nathan Minhas - who has since moved to National League side, Billericay Town – rescued a point for one of this season’s promotion contenders, equalising to make it 2-2 after goals from Kieran Alder and Dominik Kent had seen Rovers recover from falling behind to Louis Bouwers’ header.

With his side’s results beginning to show some reward for a series of promising performances this season, Pritchett is looking to build on recent progress, although he is wary of the threat that Ascot United will pose. “I thought Ascot were one of the best sides we’ve played this season, so we know we’re in for a difficult task”, he said. “Although we’re coming into this game off the back of some decent performances and I’m hoping the confidence of that win at Reading will give us the chance to push on and collect more positive results in the coming weeks.”

A largely unchanged squad is set to make the long haul to The Racecourse Ground on Saturday, although Pritchett has added Adam Bloomfield to the squad, on a dual registration basis from Slimbridge, with the young forward having had a prolific season for the Southern League club’s Under 18 squad.


Pritchett Hoping To Turn Corner On A Vital Weekend - 25 January

Tuffley Rovers’ manager, Mark Pritchett, is hoping this weekend’s visit to Reading City will offer his chance to both extend an unbeaten league run that dates back to mid-December, whilst also recording a first league victory since early-October, with a much needed three points much needed as two of the other Hellenic League, Premier Division sides face each other.

When Reading City visited Rovers early in the season they were considered to be one of the sides fighting it out for the Hellenic League title, but such has been the turnaround in their fortunes, alongside a mass exodus of the players assembled under a previous management regime, that a win for Pritchett’s men could see the Berkshire side move perilously close to the relegation places. Rovers currently sit in 18th place, in a nineteen team division, eight points behind City and three behind Abindgon United, but a win would take them closer to safety and within touching distance of Saturday’s opposition, with three points all the more important as Abingdon play Longlevens, who are bottom of the table and two points behind Pritchett’s men.

After three consecutive draws in league fixtures, there is newly found optimism in Rovers’ ranks and Pritchett believes his side our now beginning to look more competitive, although last week’s draw against Virginia Water, when they played against ten men for over 45 minutes, was a frustrating experience for the Rovers’ boss. “It was disappointing not to win last week, but we’re staying positive and I’m pleased that we’re now three games unbeaten”, he said. “Virginia Water made it difficult for us, keeping their shape despite being a man down, and although we played well in patches, I don’t think we did enough to get a winner.”
Pritchett’s team seem to have run into better form at a time when their longest-serving player, Warren Mann, has returned from a serious injury, with the diminutive forward scoring in each of the last three games, after missing four months of the season. It was pleasing to see Warren get on the scoresheet again, and he’s given us a massive boost since returning from injury”, Pritchett reflected.

Another feature of Rovers’ recent improved form has been a more stable squad and Pritchett anticipates naming an unchanged sixteen going into Saturday’s game, one he genuinely believes is a challenge his side can meet.
“We’re looking forward to this weekend and spirit in the camp is still high”, he concluded.


Rovers Register Cheltenham Town Academy Player - 7 December

will dawes cheltenham town and tuffley roversOff the back of a disappointing result in the Hellenic League Perpetua Press, Floodlit Cup tie on Tuesday, Tuffley Rovers have moved quickly to add to their ranks, with the registration of Cheltenham Town Academy player, Will Dawes, on a work experience arrangement.

Dawes (pictured), who joined Southern League Yate Town on a similar deal earlier this season, is an emerging talent with the Football League club and he is now in his second year in the Under 18s squad, so his parent club are looking for him to gain some important experience at first team level.

Town’s Academy manager, Antoine Thompson, a former Rovers player himself, saw the move as a good opportunity for the promising youngster. “Will is a hardworking, attack minded player and we hope Tuffley Rovers will benefit from having him there.”, he said. “This is a great opportunity for Will to play and learn from a spell in men’s football, which is a completely different experience from the U18s game. I’m very grateful that Tuffley are offering him this opportunity.”

Rovers currently sit in 18th place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division and their manager, Mark Pritchett, feels that Dawes’s signing might be just what they need to turn a series of promising performances into the results they’ll need to stay in the division, ahead of what may well be a relegation battle. “This is an exciting signing for the club, as Will has huge potential and has already been involved in the first team squad at Cheltenham. We’ve struggled to convert chances and he comes highly recommended, so I’m hoping that he can add to what we have and help us start to turn a corner”, the Rovers boss confirmed.

Dawes has already been an unused substitute for Cheltenham’s first team on three occasions – for League Two fixtures at Coventry City, Barnet and Cambridge United – and is added to the squad for this weekend’s league game at home to Binfield.


Pritchett Looking For El Glossico Fillip - 14 August

mark pritchett tuffley rovers hellenic leagueAfter a difficult start to the 2018/19 playing season for his young Tuffley Rovers squad, their manager, Mark Pritchett, will head into tonight’s local derby with Longlevens (kick off 7:45pm) hoping for improved fortune, as his side look to kick-start their Uhslport Hellenic League, Premier Division campaign.

The fixture at Glevum Park will be the first of three competitive meetings in just 4½ weeks, with Mark Moore’s side due to host the return league fixture in early-September, before the two clubs meet in the Buildbase FA Vase on Friday, 14 September. With two chastening defeats behind them this season, Pritchett (pictured) is hoping a good performance will see them accumulate the points that will set his squad in the right direction but also provide an inexperienced group with the much needed confidence that will see them well-prepared for the season ahead.

“Longlevens have started the season well, and had a good win in the FA Cup at the weekend, so we will need to raise our performance levels if we want to win this derby”, Pritchett confirmed. “I know Mark will have his side set-up well, hard to beat, but if we stay focused, I believe we can get a result.”

Pritchett’s counterpart, Moore, has overseen a number of changes to his squad in recent weeks, replacing the lost firepower associated with Brad Martin, who moved onto Bishops Cleeve, with new signings, including Adam Philp, James Campbell and youngster Isaac Johns. He also signed former Tuffley Rovers player, Kieran Squires during the summer period.

Although there are two further meetings scheduled in the near future, this will be the ‘El Glossico’ rivals’ second meeting in recent weeks, as they met in local radio station Severn Sport’s pre-season tournament, where Longlevens triumphed 2-0. In contrast to Rovers’ opening two defeats, their Gloucester rivals have played an additional game and won for the first time on Saturday, as they overcame Holmer Green FC to progress in the FA Cup. That result followed one point gained in their opening two league fixtures.

Pritchett has injury doubts affecting Cameron Williams and Paul Carter, whilst he will need to make a choice between former Levens’ keeper Luke Marchant and Kane Winman in goal. Otherwise, the Rovers boss has a full squad to select from, with Dom Kent, Brad Loveridge and Essa Sabally all pushing for places in the starting line-up.


Blackburn In, As Rovers Prepare For New Season - 3 August

ken blackburn hellenic league tuffley roversWith the new competitive playing season set to start this weekend, Tuffley Rovers have made a significant move off the field, with the appointment of former Gloucester City Youth Development supremo, Ken Blackburn (pictured) , as their new Head of Football Development.

The former Brighton & Hove Albion, Dover Athletic and Gloucester City player, who had served as City’s youth lead for 19 years until June of this year, when he advised his services were no longer required, is joining the Uhlsport Hellenic League outfit in a role agreed with Rovers’ Chairman/Secretary Neil Spiller.

“As Gloucester City Under 18s had played at Glevum Park for several years, I’d got to know Ken quite well and once I heard he was no longer with City I had a chat about the possibility of working with us”, said Spiller. “Both our first team and reserve team managers are relatively young and with the advent of an Under 18 squad playing Midland Floodlit Youth League football it seemed to be an appointment that could only benefit the club.”
After a short break from the game, Blackburn ultimately decided to take the discussion further and is now very much looking forward to the opportunity presented to him.

“I’m really looking forward to taking up the role offered to me by Tuffley Rovers”, Blackburn confirmed. “Since leaving Gloucester City I’ve been very fortunate to have received offers to take up a few other roles with local, well-established clubs, but having lived in Tuffley for 35 years, I have always felt a deep affinity with this well-structured and well-run club.”

Rovers’ first team manager Mark Pritchett is one of many local players to have graduated with honours from one of Blackburn’s many City squads and with several of the current Hellenic League squad sharing that distinction, the new Head of Football Development will be surrounded by familiar faces, as he looks to help promote the next generation of youngsters at Rovers.

“People who know me understand that I am very much in favour of encouraging young players, taking them through a youth development programme and then ultimately making the step up into adult football”, he added. “So, it was incredibly encouraging to see no less than eight ex-City Under 18 players in the first team squad when when I watched Tuffley Rovers’ game earlier this week. Knowing that the club has entered a squad in the Midland Floodlit League is such a positive step for the club going forward and bodes well for the future.”

With the first team now firmly established in the Hellenic League’s Premier Division, Blackburn feels he can play a part in the positive feeling at Glevum Park being transformed into future success, although he’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of all the club’s major sides.

“Whilst the flagship of any club is the first team, the backbone at any club is in the success of its Reserves and youth development programme”, he confirmed. “What Tuffley Rovers already have in place excites me and I want to help all the teams, in any way I can – the managers, coaches and players can bend my ear anytime!”.

Spiller sees the appointment as being the next step in developing the club’s playing squads, with particular emphasis on increased development of players coming through from the youth section. “We don’t have a playing budget, which puts us in a minority at this level of football, and so we rely on bringing in promising youngsters if we are to sustain healthy performance on the field”, Spiller confirmed. “So, if Ken can use his contacts to help attract players, offer some advice to our managers on how best to help others develop or flag up a talent that might otherwise go unnoticed, that can only benefit the club. I’m delighted he’s agreed to help us and believe this will be good for our management teams, as well as the playing squads.”

The short-term aim is for Blackburn to take a look at how the transition arrangements for players might be improved, with one eye on creating a more seamless pathway between U18, reserve team and Hellenic League football, but Spiller is not placing any boundaries on the potential development of the role. “Although our Under 18s are separately affiliated to our youth section, I have already spoken with their Chair about the support Ken might be able to provide. My hope is that he will help any coach who wants to benefit from his extensive football experience”, Spiller concluded.

The Rovers’ Chairman is hoping that Blackburn’s influence will benefit both Pritchett and the new reserve team manager, Dan Gillespie, and he believes Rovers have the right people in place to take the club forward. “Pritch has twice taken us to a top ten finish in the Hellenic League, as well as a Supplementary Cup Final in 2017, which is more than we might have anticipated and in reserve team boss, Dan Gillespie, I think we’ve appointed a very promising coach, who I believe can be incredibly successful in the years to come. However, both are young and I think having Ken Blackburn as someone who can offer advice or be a sounding board is too good an opportunity to turn down”, he enthused.

Pritchett himself sees the appointment as a positive one, particularly as he finds himself with a new assistant this season (following the departure of Shayne Anson and subsequent appointment of Alex O’Leary). “Alex and I have a bit of a rebuilding job on our hands and I’m pleased to have Ken involved in the development of the football club. I think this is a great appointment for the future of the club”, Pritchett confirmed.


Pritchett Putting Faith In Youth, As Rovers Look To Rebuild - 3 August

Tuffley Rovers will travel to Royal Wootton Bassett Town this weekend, for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday afternoon, with Mark Pritchett putting his faith in a young squad as he looks to build on two consecutive 10th placed finishes in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division.

Since Dave Evans and Shayne Bradley both announced their retirement at the end of the 2017/18 season, Pritchett also lost his Player/Assistant Manager Shayne Anson, who has moved to Evesham United, which saw former Colchester United and Dagenham & Redbridge pro Alex O’Leary promoted to the role vacated by Anson. Losing three senior and influential players was a blow, but Pritchett feels that, after a difficult start to pre-season, his side are now ready for the challenges ahead.

“We’ve lost a lot of experience with Bradders and Dave retiring, then Shayne moving on, which has meant Alex and I have a bit of a rebuilding job on our hands”, Pritchett confirmed. “Despite that, we have a lot of young players, with huge potential, and we’re excited to see what they can do at this level.”

Pritchett’s side played seven pre-season games and after opening with three defeats, including losing both games in the inaugural Severn Sport Shield in early July, but performances improved as the preparations gathered pace and the Rovers boss is feeling very positive ahead of an opening Uhlsport Hellenic League game at Royal Wootton Bassett Town on Saturday. “After a tricky pre-season, when injuries and player availability really affected us, I’m really looking forward to the start of the season”, he added. “We might have benefited from having a little bit more experience in the squad, but I’m happy with what we’ve got.”

Rovers’ recent games against Saturday’s opposition have seen both mixed performances and results, but their last visit to The Gerard Buxton Sports Ground saw them record a dramatic 4-3 win, with two goals in the closing seconds sealing a comeback from a 3-1 deficit. Earlier in the 2017/18, Royal Wootton Bassett Town’s current manager scored twice to seal a 2-0 win against Pritchett’s men.

After the departure of several players over the course of the last 12 months, Pritchett might have good reason to feel pessimistic but he confesses to feeling very pleased with the shape of his squad as they prepare for the 2018/19 season. After losing Evans to retirement and then seeing his first choice replacement, Eric Edge, opt for a move to Slimbridge, Pritchett is pleased to have two good goalkeeping options at his disposal. “Losing Dave Evans was a big blow, as he was not just a great keeper but a real leader, too”, reflected Pritchett. “I’m really pleased we’ve managed to bring in Luke Merchant, who has signed on dual registration forms from Cirencester Town, but Kane Winman has shown in pre-season that he is capable of competing for a place in the team and having two options is important in any position, but particularly in goal.”

Away from the goalkeeping position, the Rovers boss has bolstered his options with a number of young players hungry for their chance at Hellenic League level and he sees all of them as capable of producing performances that will make his side competitive. Former Gloucester City U18 players Dom Kent and Brad Loveridge have developed quickly over the pre-season period, whilst forward Essa Sabally has made the step-up from Rovers’ own U18 squad and looks to have genuine potential. In addition, Pritchett has managed to persuade the talented Paul Carter to make the move from County League football with Hardwicke and Ryan Dobbins has returned to the club after a very successful year at another County League club, Gala Wilton. Although he’s struggled with injury, former Bishops Cleeve Development player Jake Rhodes has shown flashes of good form during pre-season, meaning the huge loss associated with Shayne Bradley;s departure could be masked by a sense of genuine competition for attacking roles, with last year’s new-boy, Ash Bird, netting regularly in pre-season, after a relatively barren 2017/18 campaign.

All in all, Pritchett is looking forward to the trip to Royal Wootton Bassett with real optimism. “This squad has real potential and we’re genuinely excited to see what we can do. I can’t wait to get started”, he concluded.


Rovers Looking To Continue Warm Welcome - 1 July

Having had the honour of being voted the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division’s “Most Hospitable Club” for the second year in succession, Tuffley Rovers are resting on their laurels and have already started to look at improving the welcome on offer to visiting clubs and officials with the addition of some new facilities, but are also looking to ensure that paying spectators retain good value for the 2018/19 season, with the release of a season ticket that will cost just £35 for all league and league cup games.

After a creditable tenth placed finish in the Premier Division table in 2017/18, Rovers will be hoping for another positive season on the pitch, but the addition of a new hospitality room, burger bar and hard-standing area means that their facilities have taken another step in the right direction. In addition, new dugouts have been installed at Glevum Park, with a modern design replacing the breeze-block construction that had been in place for many years.
“We don’t have a playing budget, which can be make it difficult to progress on the field, but the club’s committee are focused on ensuring that we continue to develop our facilities, for the benefit of all”, confirmed Chairman/Secretary, Neil Spiller. “Whilst there is still plenty to do, we’ve come a long way since returning to the Hellenic League and our aim is to make sure it is somewhere that people want to visit, whether from the local community or from further afield.”

Spiller was quick to point to the support his club had received from the Football Foundation, whose funding support had been instrumental in helping make the ground improvements possible. “Without access to the funding provided by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) over the past three years, we might never have been able to even start the changes we’ve introduced, let alone continue the developments once the first phase of essential changes had been made”, Spiller added. “We aren’t yet finished but the bulk of the work is done and we hope people will enjoy and appreciate the benefits”, he added.

Despite the costs involved in the Glevum Park improvements, Rovers are continuing to offer regular supporters good value for money, as they launch their 2018/19 season ticket, with the opportunity to attend all the club’s game for less than £2 per fixture. Tickets, which have now gone on sale, will be priced at £35, with guaranteed admission to nineteen league games and any home draws in the league cup competitions.

“Last season we had the sixth biggest average crowd in the Hellenic League Premier Division and we feel that a contributing factor is our efforts to provide value for money”, said Spiller. “So, even though we considered increasing admission rates, they will stay at the same level (£5 per game; £3 concessions; with U16s offered free entry), with a season ticket also available for just £35. We feel that represents good value and hope that it will help us not only maintain a good level of spectator support, but also increase the number of people watching games.”
Anyone interested in signing up for a season ticket should contact the club via admin@tuffleyroversfc.co.uk or their social media pages.

Rovers begin their pre-season fixture schedule with a visit to Hereford Lads Club on Monday evening, with the game kicking-off at 7:15pm in Hereford.


Returning Rovers Takes On Reserves’ Mantle - 31 May

Former Tuffley Rovers player Dan Gillespie is relishing a return to the club, after being appointed as the new manager of the club’s reserve team, ahead of the 2018/19 playing season.

Despite plenty of positives for the club during 2017/18, when the club’s Hellenic League secured a 10th place finish in the Hellenic League’s Premier Division, at the end of manager Mark Pritchett’s second full season, and a youthful reserve squad finally began to become a source for first team players, the second string squad struggled for consistency and their place in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League, Division One was only secured in the closing weeks of the season.

Former Forest Green Rovers, Cheltenham Town and Gloucester City player Tommy Callinan then decided to step away from his role in the reserve team set-up, having joined at the start of the season, in a triumvirate including Russ Williams and Phil Ryder-Jones, which left the club with a potential vacancy, which former Tytherington Rocks boss, Gillespie, is delighted to fill.

Gillespie was the club’s third team manager prior to leaving for The Rocks at the start of the 2016/17 season, and he was pleased to have the opportunity to return to the club he represented during their County League days. "It's great to be back at the club”, he confirmed. "I had a good opportunity to manage at Hellenic League level when I left Tuffley for Tytherington Rocks, two years ago, and although it wasn't a long tenure I learnt as a manager and gained some valuable experience.”

Gillespie was out of the game for a short period, but had a spell at County League side Gala Wilton before his appointment to the new role.  "Having recently been at Gala Wilton, on a short term basis as a first team coach, it was there where I realised that I needed to pursue my main goal and that's to manage at the highest standard I can. Coming back to Tuffley is now a chance for me to settle down and progress as a manager at a well-run and forward moving club. The aim now is to bridge the gap between the first team and the reserve side and build a side that can challenge for honours”, he concluded.

First team boss Pritchett confirmed he was consulted on the appointment, which he gave his full-backing to, particularly as Gillespie will work with Williams and Ryder-Jones, who had been integral in the development of the squad over the past twelve months. "I see this as a great appointment for our reserve team squad and the club as a whole”, said Pritchett. "Dan brings a lot of enthusiasm and really wants to help push the club forward. Along with Russ and Phil our reserves are in very good hands for the season ahead.”

Pritchett and Gillespie now have their sights set on the start of the new season, with Pritchett confirming pre-season training will start on Tuesday, 26 June. New, existing and returning players are welcome to train, with the session starting at 6:45pm at Glevum Park.


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