Haverhill Rovers have completed the signing of defender Casey Phillips from Lakenheath
Haverhill Rovers have bolstered their ranks with the addition of experienced defender Casey Phillips who Ben Cowling hopes will help his side avoid being ‘physically bullied’ like he thought they were on Saturday.
The central defender signed from Lakenheath – the club that Cowling bought him to – and like many of Rovers’ recent signings, Phillips arrives at The New Croft with an abundance of Step 5 experience having previously plied his trade with Mildenhall and Newmarket Town.
Cowling’s latest addition is also familiar with the area, as the 28-year-old has had two spells at Borough, first helping them win promotion to the Premier Division in 2016/17, and will arrive back in Haverhill aiming to complete the same achievement with their New Croft neighbours.
“Casey’s a very good defender and an experienced player. We’ve tried to bring in that nous of players who have been successful at this level and know what it takes at this level, but are also familiar with how we play and the ideas that we have. He fits into all of that,” said Cowling.
“Casey almost approached us to be honest. He wasn’t happy at Lakenheath playing over there. Things changed early in the season and he wanted out.
“He spoke to us about the potential of coming over to Haverhill which obviously via due processes we’ve followed through. We’re delighted to get him on board.
“He knows what our expectations are and I think that’s really beneficial. He will add a great influence in both boxes. He’s tall, very good in the air but can also play. He’s a very good footballer and it gives us a lot more options.
“It potentially allows us to move Sam Hawley into some different positions as well. It gives us a lot more flexibility in the squad and that’s really important after we got physically bullied on Saturday. That hasn’t happened many times but it’s an area of the pitch that we need to be better.”
Rovers were beaten 4-1 away at Holbeach United at the weekend which saw them remain 16th in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North standings. And Cowling expressed his disappointment with the result as he felt that was the first time the squad, which included his recent additions, had ‘collectively let themselves down’.
But Cowling admitted he is enjoying having a ‘consistent group of players’ to pick from as at the weekend he only made two changes to starting 11 from their 3-0 home win against AFC Sudbury Reserves the match before – whereas in previous weeks he was forced into making five or six alterations.
It is expected that Phillips will slot in to become a regular starter in Cowling’s machine that is built with bags of experience – which includes key cogs Alex Archer, Tom Debenham, Sam Hawley and Reece Clarke.
“I think from Casey’s point of view, he’s seen what happened at Lakenheath in the beginning and how we built a group. He came in towards the end of that process where we had a lot of success and he wanted a challenge where he could come in towards the beginning of that process,” said Cowling.
“Hopefully he can use his experience and ability to be part of that, win a lot of games and be part of a successful team building at the right end of the table.”
He added: “There are certain people that will look at us in the table and go ‘I don’t really fancy that’ but I think people have seen what Westy (Martin Wescott, assistant manager) and myself have done. People have seen that we can be successful. With each good signing that we make, it makes the group more attractive.”
Rovers will look to bounce back from their defeat as they host Whittlesey Athletic at The New Croft tomorrow (3pm) – a game that could see Phillips make his debut for the club.