Caretaker manager reflects on first week as Leighton Town prepare for Oxhey Jets

Good start for James Heeps and Enzo Silvestri as club take time over new appointment

By Zoe Ashton
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 1:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2022, 1:12 pm
No.9 Abuzar Khan heads into the net to give Leighton the lead in their 1-1 draw with Risborough Rangers at the BEP Stadium on Saturday
No.9 Abuzar Khan heads into the net to give Leighton the lead in their 1-1 draw with Risborough Rangers at the BEP Stadium on Saturday

It’s been another good week for Leighton Town, not only booking their place in the final of the Bedfordshire Senior Cup, but drawing 1-1 at league title challengers Risborough Rangers.

Following the departure of Paul Bonham ahead of his back surgery last week, James Heeps and Enzo Silvestri have stepped in as the caretaker management team.

Heeps was pleased with the first set of games, which saw Town beat higher-league Biggleswade FC 3-0, watched by a crowd of 390 on Tuesday.

Goal celebrations against Risborough Rangers last weekend (Pictures by Andrew Parker)

Two goals from Luke Pyman and one for Ethan Flanagan earned their place in the Beds Senior Cup final at Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road ground on April 26.

Leighton will play Southern League Division One Central leaders Bedford Town, who beat Biggleswade United 5-1 in their semi-final.

“The boys were outstanding,” said Heeps. “They worked as hard as I’ve seen them work this season against a well-drilled team, in front of a big crowd. They deserved the win and it’s brilliant for the squad and everyone who works hard behind the scenes.

“We haven’t been in the final for a while, so this is a bit of a tonic for everyone at the club.”

Leighton Town celebrate taking the lead in their 1-1 draw with Risborough Rangers

In Saturday’s Spartan South Midlands Premier Division game at the BEP Stadium, Abuzar Khan, a 19-year-old new signing from Winslow, put fourth-placed Leighton ahead just before the hour and Asher Yearwood levelled for Rangers ten minutes later.

“The boys did really well, applying themselves and working really hard,” said Heeps of the side, which included four teenagers, away from home in a top-of-the-table game.

“Before the game I would have been delighted to take a point, but we’re probably a bit disappointed that we didn’t score more.”

The reverse fixture on the opening day of the season also ended 1-1. Risborough are second in the table, three points behind New Salamis, but with two games in hand.

“We will train Tuesday and Thursday with a home game on Saturday with Oxhey Jets to prepare for,” said Heeps, who first played for Leighton aged 16 in their youth team.

“They are a really well coached team, but we will hopefully have a healthy crowd getting behind us and we want to go out there and play well for them.”

The club know Under 18s manager Heeps is a safe pair of hands while they take time to look at the candidates to take over for next season.

“There’s no rush, they just need to find the right person who can move the club in the right direction so it’s on a sound footing,” said Heeps.

With up to a dozen of the club’s youth team playing for the first team this season and the club also creating links with local youth teams, they are building a strong future at Bell Close.

“We want to get the feel of a real community club,” he added. “Attendances have been growing over the last couple of years and there’s a bit of a buzz and excitement.

“We want to grow that - and with the work that’s gone in behind the scenes with the catering and bar it’s helping to create a good family atmosphere.”