PERSHORE Town warmed up for the new season with a curry night out – and have a real hunger to push for the top six.
The Pershore squad enjoyed their poppadoms, tikka masala and samosas at Jimmy Pickles restaurant next to the 2020 Solar PV King George V Stadium in a bonding session ahead of Saturday’s opening Midland League Division One fixture at home to Nuneaton Griff.
Manager Quentin Townsend says he cannot wait for six weeks of preparation to finally be transformed into 90 minutes of action and his squad is equally upbeat.
Pershore spent last season in the bottom third of the table, ending in 13th place, but Townsend and coach Kim Casey have worked hard in gelling the summer recruits into a coherent unit.
“The lads feel they can push for the top six and I would be disappointed if that wasn’t the case,” said Townsend.
“But anything higher than 13th, which was where we finished last season, will be an improvement.
“It’s all about progress, moving the team forward.
“There’s a good spirit in the squad. Going to Jimmy Pickles for the curry night was a good night out. It was all about building team camaraderie, team bonding and it had the desired effect.”
Townsend was pleased with the final warm-up games, winning 2-1 in both matches against Wellington and Droitwich Spa, but he will have to plan to face Griff without three regulars.
Gaz Evans and Sean Cooke are on holiday and Ollie Casey is at a wedding, but Townsend believes he has the strength in the squad to cope.
Griff finished third in the final table last season and they have already played two matches, drawing at Dudley Sports in the FA Cup and then losing on penalties in Wednesday night’s replay, and the Pershore manager says that could either be a positive or negative. Regardless, it is how his team performs, he stressed.
“We’ve had Griff watched in the replay,” said Townsend. “It could work either way – they might be a little tired after two competitive games or they might be feeling really match sharp.
“But we have to worry about our performance. We are without three players who you would consider to be first-teamers but I’ve got a big enough squad to cope.”
Striker Louis Bridges has come through his first two full training sessions in positive mood after 15 months on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury.
“Louis has had no adverse effects so hopefully by September he could be in contention,” said Townsend.