Sydenhams Football League (Wessex) Premier Division club Bemerton Heath Harlequins have announced that Rae Hughes will succeed Graham Kemp as manager at Western Way.
Hughes, who is leaving his post at Downton to take up the new challenge, will focus on building a squad capable of competing at the top end of the Wessex Premier Division.
Kemp announced last month that he would be stepping down at the end of the season after just over two years with the Wiltshire club.
There were around a dozen applicants to replace him and Heath chairman Steve Slade revealed it was a close-run thing between two candidates.
Slade told the Daily Echo: “Rae deservedly got the position. He’s an up-and-coming young manager and we are looking forward to him coming in and playing some good, exciting football.”
Hughes, former physio at Vanarama National League South side Gosport Borough, has led Downton to a mid-table finish in Division One after succeeding Colin Hopkins at the Robins’ helm.
The 35-year-old said: “I have had a great season at Downton and would like to thank them and wish them all the very best of luck.
“Bemerton is a top club with first-class facilities.”
Ben Smith, Hughes’ player/assistant-manager at Downton, believes Bemerton have done well appointing the former Salisbury City secretary.
He said: “Rae is a great coach and Bemerton have done well to secure his services. I’ve no doubt he will succeed in his new appointment.”
Bemerton are involved in a huge final league game on Saturday, away to second-placed Portland United.
Should the Islanders win, they still have a chance of winning the title, depending on Moneyfields’ result at home to Newport IoW and the outcome of the Portsmouth club’s appeal against a three-point deduction.