Wayne Benn is very confident his new-look Ossett United can put last season behind them and enjoy a really positive season in the NPL Division One North West.
Ossett kick off the new campaign at Mossley on Saturday and Benn is hopeful his first full season in the Ingfield dugout can be one where supporters will be smiling most weeks.
Ossett, who appointed Benn last November, were involved in a relegation scrap before the season was expunged in March. That’s in the past and their manager reckons his squad are in a great place ahead of Saturday.
“It is day and night difference in terms of the playing staff, style of play, the atmosphere in the changing and the atmosphere around the ground,” Benn told Non League Yorkshire.
“The lads have created a real exciting and positive vibe around the place and I think everyone connected with Ossett United looking forward to the coming season.
“We’re not daft and we are under illusions that it is going to be tough as there is a lot of good teams in this league. There seems to be quite a few teams splashing the cash which is the case every year.
“I just think we’re better equipped this year. We’ve had a hugely positive pre-season and I think I saw in the games against Bradford (Park Avenue) and Radcliffe to know that we’ll have a much better season.
“We’ve worked hard on the recruitment side and we’ve put a fantastic group of players together. The spirit, the togetherness, the camaraderie and the way they have clicked really quickly will stand us in good stead.
“Inevitably though, with a big turnover of players, it is going to take a little bit of time to get to where we want to be. We’re scratching the surface at the moment with what this team can potentially achieve.
“Potentially in two or three months’ time when they know each other even better and they know each others’ games inside out and we’ve done more on the training ground, then you would like to think we’ll be even stronger than we are at this moment in time. I still feel we are two months away from being at our best.
“I’m not one for chucking wild predictions out there and it is unrealistic to expect us to go from third bottom to be pushing to win Divisions, but equally I’m not in football to settle for mediocrity and settle for run of the mill mid-table positions.
“We want to try and get off to a good start with our league fixtures and hopefully build confidence and momentum and we’ll see where that will take us.
“The club haven’t put me under pressure in terms of targets, but I think everyone at the club would be delighted with a stress-free mid-table finish to be honest. But that’s not what I’m in football for. I want us to stride to be the best we can be. I believe we are on the right track.
“We need to take our form in pre-season into the competitive games and if we can and we believe in the style of play we are introducing and we trust each other then I think these lads will surprise a lot of teams.”
Ossett’s first competitive fixture was actually on Saturday in the FA Cup at Northern League giants and FA Vase finalists Consett.
United led 2-0 at one stage, but ended up losing on penalties.
“We have the signs and makings of a good side and I thought we came up against a very good side.” Benn said.
“The Northern League teams are notoriously strong and they had the edge on us as they’d probably played more competitive football than we had.
“They play on a 3G surface that know better than us and we fully expected a tough game and that’s what it turned out to be.
“Obviously the disappointment comes from getting in a position at 2-0 up where you should see the game out. But better teams than us have lost two goal leads.
“For me we paid the price for a sloppy 15 minutes at the start of the second half. Other than that the performance was fine. I thought the work rate was fine and we had opportunities to nick it. We hit the bar with a few minutes to go. We were fractions, inches away from going through. The penalties are a lottery.
“It was fine margins and we could have easily walked from the game with a win.”
Ossett’s First Five Fixtures
September 19th – Mossley (A)
September 26th – Ramsbottom United (H)
September 29th – Dunston (H)
October 3rd – Colne (H)
October 6th – Pickering Town (A)
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.