Paul Stansfield reckons his Knaresborough Town side is good enough to be battling for a top ten Toolstation NCEL Premier Division finish.
Knaresborough kick off their league campaign next Tuesday with Bridlington Town’s visit to Manse Lane and Stansfield also admits the Premier Division is an exciting place to be.
“I back them 100% and I trust the squad implicitly,” Stansfield told Non League Yorkshire.
“They are a fantastic bunch and really we shouldn’t be competing with some of these teams with what they’ve got and what kind of squads they have got.
“If we keep our key men fit, we’ll give anyone a game. Based on budgets we should probably be aiming for 18th, but I think on our squad and the quality of it, I’d be disappointed if we’re not top ten in the league.
“I don’t think we have any right to be in it because I think it is a really good league this year. It is far tougher than last year. Unbelievable are some of the signings and it is great because you’re pitting yourself against really good players and they’ll be good tests.
“There’s no problem, let’s bring it on.”
The target is the same one as Stansfield set over 12 months ago. Following his side’s draw with Garforth Town – the third game of the campaign – Stansfield said the top ten was their goal.
By the New Year Knaresborough were fourth-bottom. Results then improved and when the season was halted, they were 13th having won six out of eight matches.
“After the Garforth game we lost games we should have won and it is confidence,” he said.
“It is easy to get stuck in a rut and we needed to get out of it. I still think we would have finished in the top ten
“We’d won five on the trot when the season ended. We’d beaten Staveley by three, Grimsby by three and we were beating top sides. We’d turned the corner.
“That’s why we haven’t signed loads of players. We did that in January by making some big decisions in December and January and we won eight out on ten. We moved a few on and a few decided to leave and we got some young lads in and it worked.
“Covid came at the wrong time for us because we were flying and we had a lot of the bottom sides to play.”
Knaresborough’s First Five Fixtures
September 19th – AFC Blackpool (A) – FA Vase
September 22nd – Bridlington Town (H)
September 26th – Hemsworth Miners Welfare (A)
October 3rd – Barton Town (A)
October 7th – Bottesford 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.