OSSETT TOWN boss John Reed admits that Yorkshire sides have their work to cut out to make a seismic impression at the top of Evo-Stik First Division North – set against the might of Darlington 1883 and Salford City.
Darlington, formed out of the remnants of the former Football League club, have the division’s best support by a country mile, with the backing going into Salford, now co-owned by Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes, having also made many people’s heads turn.
Reed says the well-fancied duo along with Spennymoor are the stand-out teams in the competition this year.
Not that the likes of Ossett, supported by former Leeds United director Bill Fotherby, are there to make up the numbers, while accepting the toughness of the task ahead.
Reed, whose side welcome Clitheroe in their curtain-raiser tomorrow, said: “If we steer clear of injuries and have the same application as last year and in pre-season, we can be optimistic.
“In pre-season, we also set off like a house on fire and beat Bradford City, who had eight first-teamers, which was incredible.
“Whether we can beat our finish last season, when we finished eighth, I don’t know as it is a really hard league this year. I think it will be between Darlington, Spennymoor and Salford, who appear to have signed about 30 players.
“Although having said that, I thought Darlington would win it last year and they never did.”
Town have brought a number of new players in during the close-season, with Reed’s recruitment not finished yet – although they will have to make do without a trio of key players tomorrow.
Skipper Steve Jeff is on honeymoon, while midfielder Ross Armstrong, a recruit from Hull City who Reed has high hopes for, is also unavailable along with Chris Wood.
But new player-coach Dave Merris, whose signing represents a considerable coup according to Reed, is likely to make his league debut for the Ingfielders.
Reed said: “I am reasonably happy as Ossett have a budget which is very small and truly with the calibre of players I have brought in, I am over the moon.
“I have stayed in touch over the years with Dave, who I first had at Harrogate and I was extremely surprised they let him go this summer as he’s such a fit boy and one day he will make a good manager, no doubt about that.”
Up front much will be expected of ex-Wakefield goal poacher Rob Bordman, whose wonder goal in pre-season against Bradford City attracted something like 11,000 hits on YouTube.
Reed feels he has a striking gem in Bordman.
And he is salivating at the prospect of his attacking partnership with Nathan Curtis yielding fruit.
He added: “We did not think we would get a chance to get Rob, but it was just circumstances.
“His girlfriend had a baby, actually on the day of the Bradford City game, and they live around here.
“What dedication it was from him when they had the baby at three o’clock and he played for us, albeit just one half.
“For him to get 29 goals in that Wakefield team last year was incredible and big things are expected of that lad and I also have Nathan Curtis with him, who is a very good striker. I am optimistic about those two.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, Farsley kick off at Lancaster and Ossett Albion visit Prescot Cables while Scarborough Athletic go to Salford. Harrogate Rail host Mossley and in the Premier, Frickley welcome Rushall and Whitby visit Stourbridge.
Goole go to Kidsgrove in the First Division South.
Nostell Miners Welfare FC manager Darren Holmes has his sights set on victory in this weekend’s FA Cup tie against Stockport Sports, writes ANDY DONLEY.
Despite a difficult start to the season, he remains hopeful that his side can progress.
“We’ve got a full strength squad, we’re definitely stronger than last year,” Holmes said.
“I think we could have done with another two or three weeks of pre-season really. I would have liked two or three more players into the squad before we got to the FA Cup. But I’m reasonably confident that we can get a good result.”
Although Holmes would love the chance to reach the first round of the Cup, he admits that the financial rewards of passing through each round are the real incentive for Nostell.
“I don’t think there’s any footballer that doesn’t look towards playing in the FA Cup,” said Holmes.
“As a young player you always dream about getting to the FA Cup final.
“I think as you get a little bit older you get a bit more realistic, and, as a semi-professional footballer, you dream of getting to the first round proper, drawing a league club.
“I think that the reward for Saturday’s game is something like £1,600 for winning which is huge for a club like Nostell. So although we still dream about getting to the first round proper, I think we’re realistic and set our targets on getting through a couple of rounds.”
Nostell’s match will be played at Hemsworth Miners’ ground due to the Nostell pitch undergoing a £50k refurbishment.
Eight more Yorkshire teams are in FA Cup action on Saturday, with home ties for Bridlington Town, who face Whitby Bay, Tadcaster Albion against Barnoldswick Town, and Thackley, who have been drawn against Albion Sports.
Knaresborough Town travel to Glasshoughton Welfare, Eccleshill United have Jarrow Roofing Baldon, Garforth Town face Newton Aycliffe, Pontefract Collieries are away against North Shields and Liversedge play Seaham Red Star.
On Sunday, AFC Emley host Ashton Athletic, whilst Pickering Town welcome Washington.
In the North Counties Division 1, Selby Town face Penistone Church, Yorkshire Amateur host Rossington Main, and Hemsworth Miners Welfare travel to Dronfield Town.
Ahead of Worcester’s visit to Nethermoor Park tomorrow, Guiseley manager Mark Bower has set his players the target of remaining unbeaten in their opening three fixtures, writes ANDY DONLEY.
And with his side sitting at the top of the table after two wins in their first two matches, Bower is hopeful that they will achieve their goal.
“We wanted to go through the week unbeaten but we knew that at the end of that Worcester would be the biggest test,” Bower said. “They’re always well organised and they’ll look to frustrate us, but they’ve got quality as well.
“So it’ll be a difficult game but we’re looking forward to it and we can’t really go into it in any better form.
“The performance in the two games has been really good, so if we can keep that level of performance up then there’s no reason why we can’t keep getting results.”
Bower is hopeful that his side will be mixing it at the top of the table come the end of the season, but he thinks that as many as 10 teams could be in the running for promotion.
“With the quality that we’ve got in the squad, we want to be up there challenging,” added Bower. “Others have spent an awful lot of money this year.
“I can probably name nine or 10 teams with realistic chances of saying that they could finish top of the pile.
“But we’ll just concentrate on ourselves, take each game as it comes and if we can do that and keep people fit then there’s no reason why we can’t be one of those teams up there challenging.”
Elsewhere, Bradford Park Avenue will be looking to build upon their strong start to the season, which has seen them pick up four points from their opening two fixtures, when they play host to Leamington.
Also playing are Harrogate Town, who will be travelling to Hednesford in the hope of registering their first victory of the season.