Louis Axcell expects his Maltby Main squad to be capable of having a really strong season.
Axcell is heading into his first full campaign in the Muglet Lane dugout and he has made several impressive new signings – notably Mitch Dunne, Jed Phillips and Luke Fletcher.
The Toolstation NCEL Premier Division campaign begins for Maltby on the 22nd and Axcell predicts spectators will see a very competitive league.
“A lot of the players we have brought in are the ones we targeted,” Axcell told Non League Yorkshire.
“We’ve managed to get a couple that we’ve been after for maybe two seasons. We’ve kind of replaced like for like, but I feel we have a much younger squad.
“Until we get fully into the competitive games, we won’t know fully, but I feel we have gelled well and I feel we are a strong position to be really competitive in the league.
“Only time will tell, but we’re confident and happy with where we are. I do think we’ll be competitive Don’t know get me wrong there’s some very good players in the league this year and some very good teams.
“The beauty of the league is you don’t have an easy game either so that keeps you on your toes. You can’t go into any fixtures thinking ‘this is an easy win’ because the results showed last year and they will show this year that if you don’t go into a game 100% you’ll likely come a cropper and drop some points.
“That is the best thing about the league at the minute. Although you may have your stronger squads at the minute, I think every single game will be competitive so everyone needs to be on your toes for every game.
“It is going tough (league), but there’s always surprises. Everyone picks their five or six each year and there’s always surprise packages and there’s always a couple who potentially should be there up and aren’t which showed last year.
“From my perspective you do look at how others are recruiting and you do look at other teams, but essentially we have to concentrate on how we’re going to play. Concentrating on ourselves and where we want to be is the way forward.”
Although Axcell is not publicly specifying a target, he does admit building on last season’s seventh place (their standing when the season was expunged) is an objective.
“The club have been great in backing in us and with the squad we have got together they probably expect us to be up there,” he said.
“But each year we look to improve. Maltby are a stalwart of the league, sometimes they have had years when they have been in the lower half of the league and the last couple of years we have kind of pressed up there into the top half of the league.
“For me, it is about looking to improve on where the club has been and looking to build to go again the following year. It is about constant progress, whether it is really quick or really slow.
“As long as it is constant progression, the club are more than happy with that. Maltby had a really good season two years ago when they finished fifth under Scott Mason and John Crossland.
“They had a really close knit group and they did really well. It will be a tough one to get to, but that has to be our aim to try and get a higher finish than before.”
Axcell also paid to tribute to his assistant Dean Bamforth who joined Maltby in the early stages of the lockdown.
“Adding Bamf to the management team has been a real positive in pre-season,” he said.
“He’s taken on a fair share of training and has given a fresh set of ideas at times.
“Every manager needs a second voice and opinion. He’s honest and direct and has a valued opinion on things. He’s connected well with the group and the atmosphere among the squad is positive.”
Maltby’s First Five Fixtures
22nd September – Liversedge (H)
26th September – AFC Mansfield (H)
3rd October – Thackley (A)
6th October – Handsworth (H)
10th October – Retford FC or Cammell Laird 1907 (A) – FA Vase
If you have enjoyed reading Non League Yorkshire over the past few months, please consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation NLY Community Sport which provides sport for children and adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. CLICK HERE to visit the JustGiving page. There is a video at the bottom of the page showing our work.
NLY Community Sport, run by James Grayson and Connor Rollinson, has always had combatting social isolation at the top of our objectives when running our Disability Football teams. As we slowly return to ‘action’, our work will play an important role in reintroducing our players, who have disabilities and learning difficulties, back into society.
We have six teams, a mixture of Junior and Adult teams – Nostell MW DFC, Pontefract Pirates, Selby Disability Football Club and the South Yorkshire Superheroes (Barnsley) – across Yorkshire.
We have enjoyed great success over the past three years. Several of our players have represented Mencap GB in Geneva, including Billy Hobson from Selby and Greg Smith, whose story is quite inspiring.
Like most organisations, we have been affected financially by the Coronavirus and because of the cancelled Lucille Rollinson Memorial Tournament, we are down on projected income for the year and we have incurred losses in the last few months.
We have not been hit as badly as other organisations, but we do need raise £2000 to put us back at the level we were at in mid-March and enable us to make a difference once again to our players’ lives in the future, without having financial worries. Several of our players are suffering from effects of the lockdown and we are determined to be in the strongest position possible to provide services for them.
Any amount raised above £2000 will be put towards new projects (when the world returns to normal) designed to further benefit people with disabilities and learning difficulties. You can learn more about the organisation HERE and on our Facebook page.
Watch the video below to see highlights from our three years as an organisation. The video was produced for our players at the end of March to remind them of good memories from the last three years.