PERSHORE Town will be looking to repeat the form which rescued them from relegation 12 months ago to fight for promotion in 2020, accoring to boss Les Jones.
The Plums have been transformed since former Malvern Town pair Jones and No 2 Derek Doyle took over in the autumn of 2018, with the club seemingly in freefall through the West Midlands League Premier Division trapdoor.
Jones admits it took a while for a completely revamped team to settle and they only won one league game under their guidance going into the new year.
But a 4-3 win against Pegasus Juniors in their first match of 2019 provided the catalyst to haul themselves away from danger and finish in 14th place. They lost three league games in the second half of the campaign and just one from the final nine.
Jones had made it clear the Plums want to be contenders, not no-hopers this term, with four clubs being promoted as part of a shake-up of non-League in the summer, but they have been playing catch-up.
The boss says injuries and a stop-start time has not helped but they know they need to step up their performances to close the gap.
Shifnal Town are clear title favourites after an unstoppable start to the season but it is all to play for in the scrap for the other places.
“Since this time last year we’ve come on leaps and bounds,” said Jones.
“We are just frustrated we’ve not got more points because we had a great pre-season and beat teams from higher leagues, but we’ve had injuries and other setbacks.
“It’s frustrating to be truthful. When you look at the squad, in the dressing room to what we had 12 months ago, there’s an unbelievable difference. We’re a lot, lot stronger.
“We’ve had a few players missing, like Dane Aldington, Tom Harding and Matt Gwynne who were all longer-term issues but hopefully they are getting back to fitness now.
“Last season, we went into the new year with a lot of momentum. The team then was settling down and getting a run of games and we got the results. We need to do that again.”
Pershore open 2020 with trips to Shawbury United on Saturday, January 4 and then have another visit to Shropshire to tackle table-toppers Shifnal on January 11 before their first home game of the new year against Worcester Raiders on January 18.
Meanwhile, Pershore have been handed a home tie against AFC Bridgnorth in the quarter-finals of the Premier Division League Cup. Date to be confirmed.