Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Wayne Benn says Frickley Athletic have met the club’s pre-season expectations, although he concedes performances have not been good enough recently.
Benn has done a great job in steadying the ship at Westfield Lane after his late appointment in the summer.
The Blues boss had to assemble a totally new squad at short notice just six weeks before the opening league game.
“We did far better (at the start of the season) than people expected for the reasons you have highlighted – coming in during June and having a fragmented pre-season because we had to look at 40 players,” Benn told Non League Yorkshire.
“We started so well and we created that buzz and atmosphere.
“Performances were pretty good and even when we lost we were sat feeling we should never have lost.
“But we can’t deny that our form since October hasn’t been good enough.
“The board said to me (when I took the job) they wanted a season where we just stabilised and there were no real expectations.
“We don’t want to be scrapping around in the last few weeks, we want to be staying up points-wise as quickly as we can.
“Whether you finish eighth or 16th, it is not a great season because you haven’t been in a promotion race.
“So I wouldn’t view it as a successful season but I would view it as job done in terms of the remit I was given, with a platform to move forward from (during the summer).
“Attendances are up, more people are coming to watch their local club.
“We have blooded four-or-five under 23s.
“When you factor all that in, we’re doing what we should be but as manager and team you are judged on results.”
Results have been tough since October and their lowly position of fourth bottom reflects that.
The 3-0 demolition of locals rivals Hemsworth Miners Welfare during December appeared to be a turning point.
However, three defeats and a draw have followed.
“I don’t feel I’ve been as frustrated as I am as manager and I have been a manager for a long time now,” Benn said.
“The lads are capable of producing performances like the Hemsworth one and then we followed that up with our three worst performances of the season.
“It is that inconsistency and the inability to perform to the levels they are capable that is frustrating the life out of everybody.
“We should have kicked on after the Hemsworth win. You want to build on such a good win and build momentum.
“It hasn’t happened.
“We are not immune to criticism and we understand that the form and performances hasn’t been good enough.
“We have been trying to bring players in for the best part of three-or-four weeks.
“I thought at one point I was able to bring in five or six players in this week alone but one by one something changes.
“That’s adding to the frustration because we need to bring experienced heads in to aid the group.”
Frickley could take a big leap towards safety tonight if they defeat second bottom Bottesford Town at Westfield Lane.
It is a massive game but Benn is playing it down.
“It is another game of football and we want to win every game we play,” he said.
“It is up to other people to build it up and make it feel like a six-pointer.
“We will be approaching it in the same manner we approach every game, doing our best to try and get a positive result.
“In terms of the league table, I can understand why it is an important one for everybody and the lads will be left in no doubt that it is an important game.
“But I think if you build these things up too much it can end up biting you and you go out nervous and flat.”