QUENTIN Townsend enjoyed beating the bookies at the Cheltenham Festival and challenged his Pershore Town players to upset the odds on the football pitch.
The keen punter chalked up a few wins at the showpiece event of the National Hunt calendar, with a few of the squad also joining the race-loving throng.
However, the Town manager says the chance to take on some of the leading runners in Midland League Division One in the next few weeks will be a test of his squad’s abilities and character – as well as laying down a marker for next season.
Pershore return to action on Saturday after a two-week break with a home game against in-form Heath Hayes, before visiting Studley on Tuesday and then facing Easter clashes with top six contenders Hinckley away and title-chasers Bromsgrove Sporting at home.
“Although we lost our last game, we had been on a good run and now after a break which I hope has recharged our batteries we’ve got the chance to measure ourselves against some of the top teams in the league. It’s a good opportunity to see how we compare.
“Heath Hayes are in really good form and moved into the top six after winning on Tuesday night. They are no mugs so that will be a test.
“Then we go to Studley which will have an extra edge because it’s a derby and I know a lot of their players before we’ve got the two Easter games.
“Hinckley were one of the title favourites but they will probably feel they have underachieved to be where they are, while Bromsgrove are top of the table and looking strong. There’ll be good crowds and they are great games to look forward to.”
With Town in mid-table, Townsend stresses the final few months of this term can set down the foundations for next season.
Having made so many changes since taking over in November, he declares he is happy with his current squad, while the enforced break should mean captain Shaun Griffiths has recovered from a quad muscle injury to leave him with a fully fit squad.
“We are still building and building the team spirit,” said Townsend. “If we can continue to do that, then we will be stronger next season.
“Rather than having players meeting for the first time when we start pre-season, we want a good basis to work from.
“I’m happy with the squad we’ve got and we’ll hopefully be able to strengthen in the summer. It’s nigh on impossible to get players to move at this stage of the season.
“I’ve got players I’d love to have here next season but they don’t want to move at the moment. They want to see out the season with their current clubs, which I can understand.
“That said, it’s important we still keep striving to get as many points as we can.”