We need to get better facilities, says Aspin

Neil Aspin
Neil Aspin

A rare Saturday off gives Neil Aspin a chance to take stock of what has been a very promising first season back in the Conference.

But despite guiding the club to play-off contention with a quarter of the campaign to go, the Town boss reckons the lack of a regular training base has hampered his side,

Town have belied their part-time status by currently sitting above the likes of big-hitters Barnet, Wrexham and Forest Green.

Being semi-professional side has often meant Town’s players not getting to the Shay for midweek games until team sheets are handed in. But Aspin says addressing the club’s training facilities is more of a priority.

He said: “We’re really up against it, not just being part-time, but the lack of training facilities is a real killer to any proper preparation.

“We need to get better facilities. We only get to train on grass in pre-season when it’s light at night.

“We’re restricted on what work we can do on set-pieces and free-kicks - anything where we need to practice.

“You can do shape work on 3G but you would rather do it on grass. And you get a situation where Marc Roberts can’t train on the 3G because of his ankle.

“You can’t really do any of the essential work on shape and formation so the work we did in pre-season has carried us through the season.

“It’s very difficult not having our own facility - it’s a real handicap.

“Most teams can also train on their own pitch but we’ve not been able to do that either.

“I’ve got a couple of ideas for changing what we do in terms of training and I’ll be speaking to the chairman about them.”

Aspin admits the campaign so far has surpassed his expectations, with the Shaymen recording impressive victories against Barnet, Wrexham and Grimsby.

But the Town boss’ only sore point is some disappointing crowds, despite Town’s dominant home form, after prices were increased to £17 this season.

“It’s certainly gone much better than I would’ve expected in terms of the home games,” he says, “but not as well as I would’ve liked away from home.

“Overall I’m happy with the number of points we’ve got and in the home games, the goals return is fantastic.

“Obviously we’ve played more games than anyone else but for us to be top scorers has taken me by surprise.

“The players have done really well - they’ve been a credit to the club and they’ve played some great football at home.

“But we’ve not really had the attendances to see the football that’s been played.

“I remember getting 3,000 when we played Lancaster and 4,000 when we played FC United when we were trying to get to the level we’re at now.

“Then we get to that level and we get crowds of just over 1,000 so it is disappointing.”

Aspin reckons a play-off push is probably out of his side’s reach, with the Town boss is already casting one eye on next season.

He said: “We’re just concentrating on staying in this league, for which you need to be looking at 51, 52 points.

“I think for us to get in the play-offs we would need to win nine of our last 13 games, and bearing in mind our away record, it’s going to need a massive change for that.

“I’m not looking at the play-offs. I need to make sure we’re still in this league next year. It’s a difficult league to get into and a difficult league to stay in.

“It’s about trying to build every year, which can be difficult.

“We know at the end of this season we’ll have players who want to progress so I have to be looking for new players.

“Not having a game on a Saturday will give me a chance to watch players, although everybody’s looking for the same players.

“It’s difficult to look too far ahead because as a manager you know a few bad results can put you under pressure.

“But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t thinking about which players we can get in.”