Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Garforth Town surprised many by winning seven of their nine league games during the aborted 2020/21 season and with most of the side staying, hopes are high of a positive campaign. With Paul Marshall at the helm, his record proves they have a good chance of challenging.
Marshall is the most experienced manager in the NCEL having managed nearly 1000 games since 1997 when he took charge at Harrogate Town. Now after three promotions and an FA Cup second round appearance during his spells with Tadcaster Albion, Harrogate Railway, Goole AFC and Pickering Town, Marshall is hoping to add to the success with Garforth Town.
Opening Five Fixtures
Maltby Main (h), Shildon – FA Cup (a), Emley (a), Albion Sports (a), Handsworth (a).
In: Red Bates, Hass Gorji, Duke Witter (Strensall Tigers).
Out: Lee Turner, Joe Thornton, Charlie Marshall (Liversedge).
One to Watch
Sam Leach, a part-time taxi driver for taxi driver Paul Marshall, is a popular figure around the club. He’s a key player because of his dangerous marauding runs from the right-back slot which always add spark to Garforth’s attack.
Paul Marshall is targeting Garforth Town’s best league finish since the glory-laden Simon Clifford era.
Since returning to the NCEL in 2013 after several years in the Northern Premier League, the Miners have never finished higher than 13th.
Garforth were eighth when the 2019/20 campaign was expunged and fourth after nine games last season and Marshall has high hopes.
“Oh top six,” Marshall told Non League Yorkshire when asked about expectations.
“Once we get going (with everyone available) we’ll be capable.
“I think we’d have finished third last year (if they the season had continued) and finished above Brid.
“I’d be disappointed if we finished out of the top six this season.”
Garforth were the surprise package last year and Marshall places the praise at the way his side defend.
“The biggest strength is the unity of the team,” he said.
“We don’t concede too many goals.
“We had one bad game last year which was at Mansfield when (Ross) Duggan scored two. Every-time he plays against me he seems to score.
“Dents (Sam Denton) couldn’t handle him. (Sam) Barker couldn’t handle him. Toby (Wells) couldn’t handle his shots.”
Although the league has lost two promotion slots, the saving grace is one automatic spot and a play-off game against a team from Step Five for the runners-up,
Marshall, who expects a competitive Premier Division title race, believes the league or FA could go further to involve more teams.
“I’ve been calling (for more promotion spots) for years,” he said.
“Even though there is only one play-off spot I still think they should make it go down to fifth or sixth place and have a semi-final and final in our league before we go to play whoever.
“That keeps everyone going right until the end.
“I think everyone will be similar and it will be a very tight league.
“You will still have Maltby who will be strong. Barton will be.
“Everyone says Sherwood will be so we don’t about them yet.
“Staveley will be strong.”
Maltby Main are the opposition for the season opener on Saturday.
One player unavailable is ‘Superman’ goalkeeper Toby Wells as ironically he was sent off in the 3-1 defeat to Maltby last October and has one game remaining on his suspension.
“I can’t wait for the 31st July to get going because I hate pre-season,” Marshall said.
“It is a tough game against Maltby who beat us last year.
“It is Toby’s longest suspension ever. He got sent off against Maltby last year and he’s serving his third game of the ban against Maltby this year!
“That’s why we have signed Aaron Burn. He played twice last year at Handsworth and Grimsby Borough when Toby served the first two games of the ban last year.”
What Marshall isn’t looking forward to is potential disruption.
“I just hope the season isn’t going to get ruined by clubs calling games off,” he said.
“If someone has got covid and they test positive they isolate for ten days and they’re away from the club.
“I think clubs will call off games on a whim.
“Awarding points to the opposition would probably stop it but I don’t think you could go that far.
“There needs to be something though.”
Top Half, pushing for top six
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