The Northern Counties East League season gets under way this weekend, as 20 clubs begin the battle for just one promotion spot into step four of the football pyramid.
After winning the Division One title with 100 points last season, losing just four games, Knaresborough Town begin life in the NCEL Premier Division with a trip to Albion Sports. Boro unveiled five new signings prior to Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Leeds United Under-18s, with Jimmy Carlton, Liam Corbett, Rob Worall, James Baggott and Dan Coupland all joining Paul Stansfield’s charges.
With just over a week to go until the season, Knaresborough lost assistant manager Paul Clayton due to work commtiments, and moved quickly to promote Gregg Anderson to player/assistant manager.
Yorkshire Amateur are also set to begin life in a new division after being promoted as runners-up to Knaresborough Town. The Ammers make the trip to Bottesford Town, who finished eighth in the Premier Division last season, to open their campaign. The Ammers lost just one of their seven pre-season games, a 3-0 defeat to Guiseley, and ended their preparations on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Field.
A tough trip awaits Garforth Town to start the new season as they travel to Curtis Woodhouse’s Bridlington Town, perennnial top-half finishers. Garforth have made a number of additions over the summer, with Curtly Martin-Wyatt returning for a fourth spell, and former Brighouse Town striker Devonte Morton joining amongst others.
The Miners also received the news that they had been awarded a walkover in the FA Vase first qualifying round following the withdrawal of Team Northumbria.
Harrogate Railway head into the new season with a new manager in Brian Davey, who takes over from Marlon Adams. To begin the season Railway face Maltby Main, who finished last season in fifth and will be hoping to push towards the top of the division once more.
Elswhere, Liversedge open the new campaign as they welcome Athersley Recreation to Clayborn, whilst Hemsworth Miners Welfare begin the 2018/19 season with a trip to Hall Road Rangers.
Division One is set to kick off this weekend with last season’s West Riding County Cup finalists Selby Town hosting promoted Skegness Town.
Ambitious Selby have made several signings in Carl Stewart, Peter Lawrie, Josh Dacre, Josh Berry, Will Ramsay and Ras Diamond Jr. In their final pre-season game on Saturday, Selby defeated Evo-Stik Division One East side Pontefract Collieries 3-2. The Robins also have a place in the FA Cup this season, and will host Whickham FC in the extra preliminary round on Saturday, August 11.
AFC Emley open the new campaign with a trip to Armthorpe Welfare. Both sides finished the 2017/18 season in the bottom half of the division, and will be hoping for improvements in the upcoming season. Emley are unbeaten in their last four pre-season games, which included victories over Barnsley and Huddersfield Town sides.
After finishing sixth last season, Glasshoughton Welfare will look to build on that as their 2018/19 campaign opens up with a trip to East Yorkshire Carnegie. Welfare have kept the core of their squad from the previous season, whilst adding new faces in the likes of Matty Bowman, Sheffield Wednesday’s youngest outfield player, and Jack Knight, an FC Halifax Town academy scholar. Carnegie finished five points clear of relegation in their first season in the NCEL, losing to Glasshoughton on both occasions.
Nostell Miners Welfare seem to have found stability under managers Jason Dodsworth and Simon Houghton, having gone through eight managers in 18 months. Nostell are aiming for bigger and better things than last season’s 17th place and have acquired Danny Critchlow, Adam Hayton and Kai Hancock in a bid to climb the table.
A trip to Parkgate to open the season awaits Nostell Miners Welfare, following the hosts’ relegation.