Frickley Athletic step into the unknown of the Evo-Stik First Division South this Saturday with manager Spencer Fearn declaring himself content with his side’s build-up to the new season.
Following relegation the Blues find themselves in a division they have never been in before and facing a number of teams for the first time.
They start with a trip to Staffordshire to play Newcastle Town on Saturday and quickly follow up with a first home game in First Division South against Cleethorpes Town next Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm).
The division is also new to Frickley boss Fearn, but he is confident that, given luck with injuries, after some good recruitment the Blues will quickly develop into contenders.
He told the Express: “This year there’s two automatic promotion spots available and possibly a third as well with the highest placed third place sides in this step being given a chance of automatic promotion, then there’s the play-offs. We aim to be in and around the play-offs that’s for sure and I’d be disappointed if we weren’t.
“But anything can happen during the season. When I was at Maltby last season we were crippled by injury in the first half with every week seven or eight out.
“In terms of who we’ve got available there’s only John Cyrus who is on the injury list at the moment – he will be back in a couple of weeks. Then we will hope to be at full strength.
“If we can keep players fit we have a good chance of doing well. You can ask me if promotion is a realistic aim after 10 games!
“We want to get the club back up, but there’s some good sides in our division. Basford United are decent, Stocksbridge just down the road, Spalding will be strong and Peterborough Sports, who’ve come up have had back to back promotions.”
Frickley have been banging in the goals during pre-season matches – with six straight wins before a heavy 8-1 defeat to Coalville Town last Saturday when a number of first teamers were rested or unavailable. And Fearn has generally been pleased with the way the team has been shaping up.
He said: “You can never read too much into pre-season, but the lads have done everything we’ve asked of them and they are all working hard.
“We’ve got a fantastic group of lads, they all get on and there’s a great team spirit around the club.
“We’ve had some positive results and we had a stinker when we played at Coalville last Saturday when I gave a few lads a run out who’ve not featured a lot previously.
“We’ve got a good base and it all starts for us on Saturday, that’s the important stuff. Hopefully we’ll get off to a good start.
“It’s difficult pre-season because you never know if the opposition are at full strength or not. But it’s a chance to look a number of players and trialists. We’ve scored a lot of goals, particularly Gavin Allott, our captain, who’s a superb player.
“We’ve played some nice football as well and that’s what we like to do, get the ball down a bit and move it about a bit. It’s attractive football as well and that’s what we’re trying to do in the right areas obviously. I’m happy with the way it’s been going.”