QUENTIN TOWNSEND wants Pershore Town to kick off 2018 looking to begin a push for a place in the top half of the table.
The Town manager admitted he learned two lessons from their final two fixtures of 2017 – they possess a counter-attacking threat to add to their usually proactive play and they also have to improve to match the best teams in Midland League Division One.
A 2-1 win at Cadbury Athletic, courtesy of goals from strikers Alfie Bloomer and Oli Manoochehri, was followed by a 5-0 Boxing Day defeat at home to in-form Racing Club Warwick.
It left Pershore in 16th place as they prepare to travel to Nuneaton Griff on Saturday.
With Will Stallard and Ben Lane getting closer to fitness, Townsend believes he has the squad to keep pushing up the table. Only once since 2003 have Pershore finished a campaign in the top half of their league.
“I want to see us pushing for mid-table,” said Townsend. “Pershore have been drifting down near the bottom of the table for the last six or seven years and that has to change. We want to challenge in the mid-table – that would be real progress.”
Townsend praised the forward duo of Bloomer and Manoochehri for their explosive play in winning at Cadbury as a depleted team proved Pershore have the ability and flexibility to defeat the teams around them.
“It was a good battling performance from start to finish,” said Townsend. “We were solid and we countered well. When you’ve someone with Alfie’s pace, and Oli is quick too, that’s an asset. We didn’t have Kyle Turner but he’s no slouch so we’ve got that option.”
But Townsend described Warwick as “the best team we’ve played all season” after the visitors swept in four second half goals to seal an emphatic win at the King George V Stadium.
“We got taught a lesson against Racing Club Warwick,” said the manager. “The way we capitulated in the second half was a bit of an eye-opener but a few of our players had been suffering with flu and we ran out of steam.
“The irony is that I had a lot of those Warwick lads with me at Southam. “They were probably the best side we have played. When you have got three players like Josh Cole, Josh O’Grady and Luke Church on the bench, like Warwick did, that’s the sign of a good team. They can break into the top three or four if they keep it all together.”
Although Stallard and Lane will not be in contention for the Pershore squad to face Nuneaton, Townsend will have an otherwise full squad, with defender Dan Getliff now back after his holidays.
Stallard is now back training after dislocating his knee while Lane could be back within a week after recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
Griff, who lie 19th in the table, and Pershore drew 0-0 at the King George V Stadium at the start of December.
“They were better than their league position told when we played them and they beat league leaders Leicester Road a couple of weeks ago. They’ve got a new manager (Courtney Belford) so it’s going to be another tough game,” added Townsend.