All what was missing from Nostell Miners Welfare last season was a player capable of scoring 30 goals.
That’s the view of Jason Dodsworth, who says he and Simon Houghton are working hard to sign a striker before the new Toolstation NCEL Division One campaign begins next week.
Nostell finished fifth, but the pair reckon a predatory goal-scorer would have seen them challenge champions Grimsby Borough.
“(Asked what was massing last season) A striker that could score goals, a number 9,” Dodsworth told Non League Yorkshire.
“We tried really hard to get one in last season, but to no avail. Players have still got the chance to maybe take that mantle in pre-season.
“If we had got a 30-goal man I don’t think we would have been far off to be fair.
“If you look back at the summaries of the games, we dominated so many games and created so many chances that we didn’t take and then got punished at the other end.
“That was a big part of our season. Wide men did well, but with another centre-forward we’d have been up there, definitely.”
Dodsworth and Houghton are entering their second full seasons with Nostell. The pair are the club’s longest-serving management team since Alan Colquhoun, who led Nostell out of the West Yorkshire League and to NCEL Premier Division in over ten years in charge.
Colquhoun left in 2013 and six permanent managers have tried to revive them – in Darren Holmes, Paul Lines, Graham Nicholas, Chris Ellerby, Terry Bates and Des Hazel.
Dodsworth and Houghton have been Messiah-like for Nostell. After lifting them out of the relegation zone in the first six months, Nostell then finished fifth last season and Dodsworth is pleased with how far the club has come and expects it to push on in the next ten months.
“Listen it was a very progressive season on-and-off-the-field for the club,” he said.
“We set records last year, we finished fifth. Are we happy with fifth? No. I’ll be never happy with fifth. If you are there is something wrong.
“But we did set records within the club, points-wise, goals-wise. We can only work with the tools we have been given and I think we do a very good job.
“All we have to do is improve on last season and if we do we’re going to have a very good season.
“But we should add that with four places for promotion up for grabs, that brings more competition and more clubs pushing money towards it shall we say.
“We’re going to go for it, but is going to be very competitive.
“The good thing is that we have kept everyone together.
“The winning mentality is there. They know how to play and win and they want to get promoted.
“Hopefully with the added quality that we have fetched in, we won’t be far away.”
Nostell have kept their summer signing business fairly low-key. Goalkeeper Danny Rusling, Mick Jones, Kieran Scargill, Liam Owen and wing wizard Richard Collier have joined.
Retaining most of the squad, plus those additions have given Dodsworth and Houghton belief they can claim one of those four promotion spots.
Not that it will be easy. Teams such as North Ferriby have big ambitions. In the same way that Nostell have, Selby Town, Parkgate, Campion and Hallam have retained and strengthened.
“From a league point of view, a lot of clubs have made a lot of good signings,” Houghton said.
“It is going to be a strong Division. Division One is going to be as strong as we’ve ever seen it.
“It is going to be tough. There’s never been four promotion places whilst I have been managing in it so it is exciting.”
Nostell’s fifth friendly ended in a 2-1 defeat to Stocksbridge Park Steels in the soaring heat at Crofton Community Centre.
Houghton said: “We asked them to play in a certain way and I thought the lad who played upfront for us held the ball up and enabled us to get up the field.
“Stocksbridge didn’t cause us too many problems (in the first half hour), we caused our own problems.
“It was a tough night, a hot night. We put in a good shift. We had to make an early change because of the injury to Jack Cowgill which doesn’t make things easy.
“On the whole, we were happy with periods of the game. We tired as the game went on, to say we freshened it up with five new bodies.”
Two friendlies are left for Nostell – a trip to Garforth Town on Saturday, followed by the visit to Emley AFC next Tuesday.
Houghton has hinted that he and Dodsworth may trim the squad down ahead of the first day’s clash with Ollerton Town.
“Maybe it is a possibility,” he added.
“There is two games left now and they have to earn their shirts. Some players aren’t doing it.”