LES JONES reflected on his first anniversary as Pershore Town manager by admitting the progress – on and off the pitch – has surpassed expectations.
Jones and No 2 Derek Doyle arrived in October 2018, taking over from Paul Harris, to a club plunging towards relegation but now the Plums have set out their stall as promotion contenders.
Equally important, says Jones, is the way the club has developed, strengthening its community ties, attracting more fans and boosting its youth structure.
Twelve months ago, Pershore were languishing seven points adrift at the bottom of the West Midlands League Premier Division but last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Wolverhampton Sporting left the Plums in seventh place, three points off third place.
“There’s been a lot of hard work in the last 12 months but I genuinely believe the club is on the up,” said Jones. “Behind the scenes as well as on the pitch.
“Football-wise, we have got a much stronger squad and the results have reflected that. This time last year, we were seven points adrift at the bottom of the league and now we are seventh and couple of points off the promotion places.
“Gates are up, the club is more professional and there is a buzz about the place.
“Things have gone well but we are not going to rest on our laurels. We keep looking to add to the squad, which is why we’ve brought in James Behan and Luke Gaffney in the past couple of weeks.”
After midfielder Gaffney joined from Malvern, goalkeeper Behan switched from Wem Town and made his debut at Wolves Sporting. With Matt Gwynne struggling to overcome injury, Jones was keen to add to his keeper options.
Pershore opened the scoring after just two minutes at Pride Park through Sam Clark but it was 1-1 at half-time after Jamie Fuller netted.
Soms Sibanda tucked home a penalty to give the hosts the lead ten minutes after half-time but Nick Seabourne converted a spot-kick himself to equalise 15 minutes from time.
“It was a smashing game of football,” said Jones. “Wolves Sporting will be contenders and it was a 50-50 game, end to end, but I think we deserved the result at the end.
“There were a lot of good performances. Shaun Griffiths did well at the back, Nick worked really hard up front and James Baldwin had a good game. Dan Tustain was really influential in midfield, his link-up play was excellent.”
Jones will have front-runner Matt Pinder back available to face Wednesfield on Saturday, while Gwynne will face a fitness check on his knee problem.
Meanwhile, Pershore have played their part in the fund-raising for schoolboy Oscar Saxelby-Lee. Last week’s Town v Bredon friendly raised £1,300 to help the appeal for the five-year-old’s pioneering treatment in his battle against leukaemia.