Non-league Football Preview
NEW manager Mike Clegg can’t wait to get started at ASHTON UNITED. He describes it as an exciting project that he’s eager to be part of.
“Everybody knows what’s going on there at the moment. Believe me it had to be something special to get me to leave Atherton Collieries, my hometown club, where I spent so many great times,” he said.
“I’m looking to make progress at Hurst Cross. I want to get in there, get the lads playing, and get some results. That’s the key.”
At the same time, he will be drawing a line under past events. What’s happened in the past doesn’t matter. He’s only interested in the future and everyone in the underperforming Robins squad will get a chance to impress — if they want to take it.
Clegg, who has moved to Hurst Cross after a five-year spell at Atherton Collieries in which he won several trophies including the North West Counties League championship, as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Vase, was appointed yesterday (Thursday).
Farsley boss Adam Lakeland was thought to be favourite and it’s believed former Curzon manager John Flanagan was interviewed. There was even talk of a return by Paul Phillips who recently lost the Buxton job.
Clegg will be at tomorrow (Saturday’s) BetVictor NPL premier division home match against Radcliffe, but in the background ready to take over on Monday. Josh Wilson will have charge of the team assisted by Damian Crossley and Kieran Bentley. Winger Andy Howarth has a three-game ban pending after receiving a straight red in the 4-0 defeat by Nantwich.
“I’ll speak to the lads next week and organise a couple of good training sessions to prepare for the game with Basford. It’ll be clean slates all round because I’m not interested in what happened before,” he explained.
“Jody Banim’s a good football man as a manager and as a player. He did a lot at Ashton but what went on when he was in charge is of no interest to me. He put together a very good squad and it’s up to me to get them playing.
“Clearly promotion is nigh on impossible now, but that also means the pressure’s off. My job is to impose my own ideas to find a winning formula and get a feelgood factor around the place. It’s all about climbing the table.”
Although Clegg has inherited a large number of contract players — believed to be as many as 14 — he says he has been given scope to make signings, adding “who’s to say I won’t be met by some lads saying they don’t want to be part of my plan?”
Connor Hughes is the only player Clegg knows personally. They were together at Atherton and Clegg believes the midfielder will be keen to stay because he knows him and enjoys his methods.
The new boss knows all the others by reputation. He has seen them in action and describes them as household names in non-league.
HYDE UNITED have signed Buxton defender Brad Roscoe ahead of their home clash with Witton Albion at Ewen Fields when they will be looking for a third consecutive league win. There are no injuries but James Nield is unavailable because of a prior engagement.
It’s understood teenage striker Paddy Lane, a product of the Tigers’ academy, is training with a Championship club and attracting lots of attention from Football League scouts.
Alex Starcenko’s loan from Guiseley has been extended for two more months. Oran Thompson, Jacko Hardacre and Cyril Owolabi have been released.
The atmosphere has certainly changed at Bower Fold. Fans are delighted that the club’s fortunes seem to be on the up for the first time in years and the confidence is palpably surging through the squad.
You have to go back to 2011 for the last time STALYBRIDGE CELTIC won five games in a row. It’s a statistic they hope to match tomorrow when they travel to Gainsborough Trinity where a victory mean four away wins on the trot, something they haven’t managed since 2009 when Paul Phillips was in goal.
Manager Simon Haworth, who is delighted with his team’s progress into the play-off places, is able to choose from a fully-fit squad.
There is an 11am pitch inspection at Seel Park where MOSSLEY are down to play Trafford in the first division north west.
Manager Dave Wild, who has no injury worries, has yet to name a new assistant to replace John Flanagan who quit at the weekend after what is believed to have been a disagreement.
CURZON ASHTON, DROYLSDEN and GLOSSOP NORTH END are all without a fixture. The resurgent Nash are home to Kettering on Monday and Robbie Evans is available for selection. They may also have a new loan signing.
IF Jody Banim ever returns to football management, it will be as a wiser if not necessarily sadder man.
As others have found out before him, money does not always translate into success. His wage bill was significantly increased after Dave Burke and his son Jonathan Sayer took over at Ashton United last spring. Banim would now confess that the funds could have been better invested.
“I signed experienced players based on their previous achievements but I ended up with people who were picking up a payday. It was something I always said I wouldn’t do but I fell into the trap. I’d have been better off with hungry players,” the former Hurst Cross boss explained.
“We could out-football anyone but when we lost the ball we couldn’t get back quickly enough. We were short of legs. You have to compare that with the kind of team Stalybridge Celtic have where they all work their backsides off.
“Also, we didn’t score enough goals. Players who could find the net at other clubs didn’t do it for me. And then I put people on contracts, something I’d never done before. In the past, if someone didn’t perform, I’d have let them go. I wasn’t able to do that.
“It was my first job and there are definitely lessons to be learned. If I ever go back into management I won’t make those mistakes again.”
Banim leaves Hurst Cross after three years as manager, originally in partnership with Will Haining. In 2018 he led the Robins into National League North via the play-offs.
His time in charge came to an end over the weekend following Saturday’s 4-0 home defeat by Nantwich. He received a text from the co-chairmen the following day, and then a phone call asking for a meeting. From that point he knew he was a dead man walking.
Banim was sacked but insists he bears no ill will to the club or its directors. The decision, he says, was just football.
He commented: “I needed more time. In my mind we’d only played 14 league games. We didn’t get a great start but there were signs we were capable of turning things round, especially if I’d got one or two more players in, in key areas, and I was working to do that.
“It’s just the way football is these days. But because of the investment this season expectations were incredibly high. I thought I’d done a brilliant job but it didn’t work out that way. The squad I put together wasn’t good enough. Some of the players I brought in didn’t do the business and that responsibility lies with me.
“Dave and Jonathan had every right to change the manager. I’m leaving with no hard feelings and I really enjoyed working with them. I’ve nothing against the club either. I loved working there. It’s all been a football decision. Dave and Jonathan have done what they believe to be best for Ashton United.”
Banim says he’s now going to rest and reflect until the new year and consider his options. He has a partner, two very young children and a couple of businesses, all of which he feels he has neglected because running a club like Ashton can’t be done in a half-hearted manner.
He concluded: “It’s a huge disappointment that I didn’t turn things round but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have to do the job anymore.
“I wish my replacement well. Dave and Jonathan are both successful men and I’m sure they wouldn’t have taken their decision without having some idea of a replacement. They’ll have done their homework.”
Non-league Football Preview
AFTER three months without a victory, CURZON ASHTON are now looking to make it three wins on the bounce. And after last week’s success over National League title favourites York City, who’s to say they won’t?
Tomorrow (Saturday) they are in FA Trophy third qualifying round action at the Tameside Stadium, and if they can beat Kidderminster Harriers they’ll pick up a cheque for £5,000.
Manager Mark Bradshaw has only one injury concern. Recent returnee Robbie Evans, who was man of the match in his comeback game against Telford, has suffered a setback with his ankle injury.
Callum Saunders has been allowed to join Nantwich Town on a dual registration to get some game time.
In the BetVictor NPL premier division, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC manager Simon Haworth has a fully-fit squad to choose from as his side end a run of four consecutive away games by hosting Buxton.
The Bridge will be attempting to consolidate their place in the top five as they look for their fourth victory in a row. Haworth has appealed to the fans to make some noise to spur on the home side and make Bower Fold an intimidating ground for the visitors.
Fresh from their 4-1 win over Bamber Bridge — their first Saturday home success since the end of August — HYDE UNITED should be in confident mood as they travel to bottom club Stafford Rangers who have yet to win at home.
Dave McGurk has a fully fit squad which has been bolstered by the signing of Tom Dean. The 6ft 4in former Mossley and FC United central defender could replace John McCombe who, the Hyde manager recently admitted, is unable to play every match.
Earlier today, former boss Darren Kelly quit as sporting director. The news was announced in a standard non-league football statement.
Even though Kelly’s resignation, which was attributed to the usual family reasons, came suddenly, fans may not have been altogether surprised. He lives in North Yorkshire and was hit hard by the sudden death of his friend, director Mark Worthington, at Easter. Over the summer he voluntarily relinquished the post of manager to take the newly-created role of sporting director.
In just less than four years at Ewen Fields, Kelly proved popular and successful. After initial problems, he steadied the ship at a club that had suffered three relegations in consecutive seasons and then took the Tigers back into the NPL premier division.
Stafford winger Andy Haworth and teenage striker Tom Carr will both feature in the ASHTON UNITED squad for the home clash with Nantwich Town.
Manager Jody Banim said: “We’re looking forward to the match. We haven’t played for a couple of weeks, so it’ll be nice to get out there.”
Casian Anghel is ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury but John Pritchard could be available within the next few weeks.
Jamie Rainford should put an end to MOSSLEY’s scoring problems. The prolific striker, who was hugely effective for Glossop a few years ago, has been signed from Runcorn Linnets and is likely to feature in tomorrow’s match at Brighouse.
The Lilywhites have also signed right-sided defender Matty Williams from Radcliffe.
Left-back Dieter Downey is ruled out with a knee injury.
Aaron Burns, Lee Neville and Liam Caddick have all left DROYLSDEN who visit Tadcaster in a rearranged fixture. Young defender Conall Arnold from Northern Ireland joins the squad.
Long-term injuries Shaq Clarke and Diego Lattie miss out again.
GLOSSOP NORTH END, who entertain Market Drayton in the first division south west, have brought back defender Keenan Quansah — last season’s managers’ player of the year — from Widnes.
Livesey Mason has been allowed to go to Darwen to gain some match fitness.
PLAYER movements registered with the BetVictor Northern Premier League from Sunday, November 10, to 11am Saturday, November 16.
Andrew Haworth from Stafford Rangers to Ashton United
Stavros Tserpes from Droylsden to Ashton United
Brandon Lockett from Salford City to Droylsden
Sam French from Derby County to Hyde United
Matthew Williams from Radcliffe to Mossley
Non-league Football Preview
HOPING to build on last week’s league win — the first since August 12 — manager Mark Bradshaw has made two loan signings as his CURZON ASHTON side prepare to face Vanarama North leaders York City at the Tameside Stadium tomorrow (Saturday).
Midfielder Connor Dimaio has been brought in from Stockport County and striker Charlie Jolley joins from Wigan Athletic.
Otherwise, Lewis Reilly and Olly Thornley remain on the injured list.
In the BetVictor NPL premier division, a club facing similar problems to Curzon’s is HYDE UNITED who have not won a league game since September 10 and have fallen to 14th place.
The next few matches could be crucial for the Tigers as they are all against clubs around them in the table. Tomorrow’s visitors to Ewen Fields, Bamber Bridge, are 18th and have won only once in their last nine outings.
Sam French, signed on a month’s loan from Derby County, replaces Luke Mewitt who sustained concussion in Tuesday’s 3-0 Manchester Premier Cup defeat by FC United.
Jack Dyche is close to a return but still isn’t ready. Chris Sharp faces a late fitness test.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC play their fourth away game on the run. They visit Matlock, the club immediately below them in the table, looking to build on their midweek Integro Cup win over Ashton United.
Midfielder Harry Freedman is manager Simon Haworth’s only absentee.
ASHTON UNITED’s home clash with Warrington Town is in severe doubt. The Hurst Cross pitch has suffered badly in the heavy rain and there is an inspection scheduled for 10.30am.
If the game does go ahead, Jody Banim chooses from an unchanged squad. Tom Carr, the teenager signed from Broadheath United was in the team that faced Stalybridge on Tuesday. Banim said: “He did really, really well.
“Tom’s been on loan at Alsager but we’ve brought him back now to be a full part of the squad.”
A knee injury rules Jack Tuohy of the GLOSSOP NORTH END team to play Chasetown at Surrey Street in the first division south east.
In the first division north west, MOSSLEY are at full strength for their home match with Colne. Once again, only Shaq Clarke is missing for DROYLSDEN who travel to Ossett United where there will be at 10am pitch inspection.