PREVIEW: Reserves set for opening day

St Albans City Football Club

St Albans City Football Club - Credit: Archant

It’s not just St Albans City’s first team that gets the season underway this Saturday; the reserves welcome Stony Stratford Town to Clarence Park, 3pm kick-off.

The club has entered a team in SSML Division Two for the first time for the 2015/16 campaign.

Mark Swales is in charge of the reserves and is looking forward to opening day after winning all three of their pre-season games.

“It’s been an interesting pre-season in terms of getting the boys ready,” he said.

“It’s been about building the club’s philosophy and ideas of what we’re about, which is: if you’re here then you’re good enough to play first-team football so you have to play like it.

“I’m really pleased with what we’ve done. Without being brash, we’ve played teams off the park.”

Fans will recognise the names of a handful of the reserves after they featured in the friendly against a Crystal Palace XI, a reward for ‘stepping up’ in training. Alex Yearwood, Hafid Bounyafe, Oran Swales, and Gerardo Smaldone all played while Sam Alexander was the substitute goalkeeper.

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For the majority of the squad, it will be their first taste of senior football, a vital step in their development, according to Swales.

“The players I had last year and the few I have adopted from last year’s U21s, it is what they need; it’s the next step,” he explained.

“There’s not a team that will match us for quality but where we might come unstuck is if we get out-muscled.”

The Saints will put their talent to the test on Saturday against Stony Stratford, who have dropped down to SSML Division Two due to ground grading.

“I expect them to be near the top of the league so it’ll be a tough first game,” said Swales.