PERSHORE Town’s countdown to the new season has been given even greater focus after they were handed an opening day derby test against closest rivals Malvern Town.
Manager Paul Harris declared himself pleased with the performances of his rebuilt squad in three friendlies in a five-day spell, with one win and two defeats.
The Plums head to Shropshire side Newport Town on Saturday in the final warm-up game but the campaign begins in earnest next Saturday (August 4) when they visit neighbours – and one of the title favourites – Malvern in their debut match in West Midlands League Premier Division.
“It was probably the toughest game we could have been handed for our first game of the season but I’m looking forward to it,” said Harris. “Malvern are a strong side with a decent budget and they will be up there.
“But the lads are up for it and I’m confident in my squad. We’ve got a lot of strength in depth and there have been a lot of positives in our performances so far.”
Goals from Phil Marsh and Jordan Haywood wrapped up a 2-1 home win against Welland last Friday before, unsurprisingly, Pershore went down 4-0 the following day at Cadbury Athletic.
Skipper Dave Wilson and Declan Juliff both netted to give Town a 2-1 lead at Feckenham on Tuesday, but two goals in the final five minutes gave the Millers a 3-2 victory.
Holidays have meant enforced changes and Harris has been without Marsh for the last few games while Wilson and Jay Morgan are missing tomorrow.
“The first game was superb but we have been missing strikers in the last couple of games and it will not be until the first game that we have the full squad together,” said Harris. “Saying that, there have been plenty of positives. We’ve worked hard in training but you need match fitness. The players are ready to go.”
Harris suggested the final build-up will concentrate on tactical play, with Pershore set to continue with a 3-5-2 formation which showed plenty of promise last season.
“We’ve got three centre-halves who are good on the ball and we’ve got wingers/wing-backs who can get forward and have the energy to get back and defend,” said Harris. “We want to play out from the back and that suits us.”
After the Malvern fixture, Pershore open their home campaign against Dudley Town on August 11 and then entertain Bewdley Town on August 14.
After a trip to Hereford side Pegasus Juniors (August 18), Harris’ side host Smethwick Rangers (August 25) before travelling to Hereford Lads Club on August Bank Holiday Monday (August 27).
Meanwhile, Pershore have been handed a home tie with Uttoxeter Town in the first round of the Smedley Crooke Memorial Challenge Cup.