DAN BATEMAN says consistency will be the key to emerging triumphant in Hellenic Division One East this season.
Wokingham and Emmbrook started their campaign with defeat to AFC Aldermaston, but stormed back to thrash Bicester Town 5-1 at Larges Lane on Saturday.
The Sumas face a tough test with a trip to many people’s pre-season title tips Burnham on Saturday, although the Blues have lost two of their first three league matches.
And Bateman believes that is proof just how competitive the title race will be this season.
“I think that this league is going to be really tight,” the Sumas boss told The Wokingham Paper.
“There’s probably about six or seven teams who are a very similar standard and it’ll be one of those that needs to come out of the pack and actually throw some consistency at it.
“If we can get that consistency and play at the level that we did on Saturday and do that week in, week out then we won’t be far away.
“However, on the flip side, if we play like we did in the first game then we’re going to need to improve.
“It’s about that consistency.”
Wokingham got off to a flying start last season, winning four of their first five games, only to fall away and eventually finish sixth.
But Bateman believes his squad is in better shape this time around and has warned his players that nobody is guaranteed a starting spot.
“One of the things that I really needed to do this year was to increase the size of my squad,” he said.
“For the first two games, on the first day I think I had eight first team squad players unavailable and this Saturday I had seven first team squad players unavailable.
“To get a win on Saturday was even more pleasing bearing in mind the people that I had missing.
“But one of the things that I learnt last year is that you regularly have four or five people missing at this standard and you have to have a squad that is able to cope with that.
“Last year if we’d have had seven first team players missing, we’d have been really struggling whereas this year we’ve got a squad of 22, 23 players that are all really, really capable and all fighting for a chance in the squad.
“No-one’s position is safe.”
He continued: “If you look at every position in the team there’s two players that want to play, so it’s good competition.
“But also we’re going to need a big squad. We’ve got 25 games between now and Christmas. From September I think we’re playing every Saturday and then every midweek.
“The fixtures are going to come thick and fast and we’ll get injuries and suspensions so we need to have a big squad.
“But it’s really competitive at the moment, which is great.”
Sumas head to The Gore on Saturday (3pm) for their final league game for a few weeks with cup matches taking over.
And Bateman is anticipating an exciting contest.
“For this level of football it’s very difficult to play two games in three days,” he said.
“Burnham got a good result in an FA Cup game on Saturday, going and winning away against a team (Ardley United) from a league above.
“But then on Monday I think they struggled a little bit (losing 4-1 to Chalvey Sports), not taking anything away from Chalvey because I’ve seen them before and I know they’re a good side as well.
“It will literally be who turns up on the day.
“They’ll be up for it and they’ll be looking to make amends for losing on Monday, but we’ll be going there with every intention of doing what we can to get three points.
“It’ll be a good game I’m sure.
“Burnham have got a lot of youngsters and we’ve got a lot of youngsters that are trying to play football the right way, so I should imagine it’s going to be a really good advert for this level of football.”