Solid finish to transform fortunes leave Oakham hoping for league reprieve
Oakham United boss Ryan Hunnings is hoping the transformation of the Rutland club’s fortunes will be enough to keep them in the United Counties League for next season.
United rounded off their Division One campaign on Tuesday night with a 2-1 derby victory at Melton Town.
That took their points haul to 13 from the last 10 games of the season after the previous 28 matches of the campaign had yielded just four points.
Oakham have applied to stay in the United Counties League next season despite finishing in one of the two relegation places.
And, with Olney and Buckingham both withdrawing from Division One next season, Hunnings - who took over at Lonsdale Meadow in November - is hoping his side’s upturn in form will be enough to convince league officials they are worthy of a reprieve.
He said: “It’s an anxious wait because we’ve seen unofficial predictions of next season’s division and some we’re in and others we’re not.
“We’ve just got to wait and see what happens at the annual meeting in June, but we’ll be starting pre-season as a United Counties League club and hopefully we will finish pre-season as one.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved since I took over because sides now know they will be in a game against us.
“We set out with three goals – to stop conceding so many goals, become hard to play against and then show the rest of the league that we’re ready for next season.
“We have done that and hopefully in pre-season we can add bit more quality to what has been a settled squad in recent weeks.”
Oakham finished with a flourish on Tuesday night when goals from Cameron Brookes against his former club and Scott Waumsley cancelled out Melton’s opener.
Hunnings added: “We set ourselves a target of four wins from our last 10 games so it was good to achieve that.
“We were really disappointing when we lost at home to Melton so we owed them one and it was good to see the lads put it right.”
Melton had made the brighter start with the slope and strong wind in their favour and took a deserved lead.
However, Oakham responded to going behind with Brookes bagging their equaliser before Waumsley put them ahead after the break when he converted following Mark Wilde’s burst down the left-hand side.
Both sides had chances as the game moved towards a finish with Oakham missing a couple of one-on-ones and also having an effort disallowed for offside.
Oakham went down to a 3-1 home defeat against Bugbrooke St Michael on Saturday having taken the lead through Waumsley’s opener.
However, the visitors levelled midway through the first period with further goals three minutes before half-time and nine minutes into the second half sealing their success.
Hunnings commented: “Bugbrooke are a bit of bogey side for us. We were a little bit naive after going ahead so we need to work on our game management but that will come in time.”