North West Counties League First Division North
Simon Armstrong admits experience is the missing ingredient from his Ilkley Town squad.
Although Ilkley have had a steady start to life in their first season in Non League Football, Armstrong believes his side could benefit a lot from a couple of players with experience.
“We have got two-or-three new faces in the squad but if I’m honest we’re still looking for one-or-two more experienced players,” Armstrong told Non League Yorkshire.
“The squad is very young on the whole and the average age is probably in the low twenties around 21.
“My back four for the last three games have all been teenagers.
“I think we have had five or six teenagers in the starting line-up for the last three matches.
“Don’t get me wrong they are more than good enough and they are proving more than good enough.
“But it would be nice one-or-two more experienced players who have played at Step 6 for a few years and can guide the younger players in those difficult moments.”
Thirteen appears to Ilkley’s lucky number this week as they are 13th with 13 points after playing 13.
They are also ten points below the play-offs and ten above the relegation zone so Armstrong agrees it is a healthy start.
“I’m reasonably happy,” he said.
“We’re on 13 points from our first 13 games and I’d probably argue that our performances have probably merited more than that.
“But then we had various challenges in the first few weeks of the season that we had to overcome.
“It is obviously our first season at Step 6 so it is a steep learning curve.
“Now we’re on 13 points, we’re in a reasonably position in the league and we’re starting to get a bit more confident at this level and we’re starting to really learn what it takes to get points.
“Don’t get me wrong we’re still having some harsh lessons dealt to us even now.
“But that’s part of the process.”
Consistency is where Ilkley need to improve.
“We have a platform to build from,” he said.
“When we spoke after our first win we had found it really tough and challenging.
“We had won one game in season which was a little disappointing because of the performances.
“We’re not taking anything for granted.
“It would be very easy to lose three or four games and slip back into the bottom end of the table.
“We don’t want that to happen.
“We want to kick on and looking forward and using the experience we have gained in the first third of the season to really help in the next two thirds as we look to hopefully become more consistent with our performances.”
What Armstrong does take heart from is the similarities with fellow ex-Step 7 Steeton and Campion who had to take slowly but surely approaches when moving up to Non League Football.
“When I look at us, I look at how Steeton did they first came into the league,” he said.
“Like ourselves they found it tough and challenging but slowly but surely they started to grow and improve.
“We didn’t win any of our first five games but I was still confident that we were more than capable and good enough to get points and progress up the table.
“You look at Steeton and Campion when they went into the North East Counties and how they did in their first season.
“It is a challenge for anybody unless you are fortunate enough to have money within your club and you’re able to bring in the necessary players to compete from the off.”
Ilkley visit Pilkington tomorrow.