“THE hard work starts now.”
That was the blunt message from Town boss Neil Aspin as the Shaymen prepare for life in Blue Square North with an opening day clash against Corby Town at the Shay tomorrow (3.0).
Town completed their warm-up campaign with a penalty shootout victory at Ashton United last Saturday and, after a week of training and fine-tuning their preparations, Aspin has declared that he and the players are ready to meet the challenge of their new surroundings.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to wait any longer,” said Aspin with the kick off just around the corner. “We have had a good pre-season but this is where the pressure starts - the need to put points on the board.
“We are definitely ready. We know it is going to be tough but that is only to be expected when you move up a division.”
Corby may arrive at the Shay as an unknown quantity to many yet Aspin has seen them in action and knows what to expect.
“They will not make it easy for us that is for sure,” he said. “They are a big, strong, powerful side like most clubs in this division.
“It is going to be very interesting because the quality of the teams in Blue Square North means that many will be capable of taking points off each other.”
Successive promotions have raised the Shaymen’s profile and as a result expectations are bound to be high again for another good campaign.
However, Aspin is keen to keep everybody’s feet on the ground, adding: “Nobody at the club is shouting their mouth off about what we are expected to achieve this season.
“We are all realistic and know that this is a difficult league. What we will do is make sure we do the job to the best of our abilities and hopefully that will mean picking up points along the way.”
The fact that Town start the season at home is a bonus and one Aspin and the players will be keen to take advantage of.
“Managers and players will always play down an opening day defeat but in reality we are all looking to start with a win because it lifts morale and gives everybody confidence,” he said while admitting that the excitement of the first game of a new season has never left him.
“It is why football is such a great game to be involved with.” he said. “I have been involved in football since I was 16 - which is 30 years now - and the first game of the season always brings a lot of expectation and excitement and you do feel differently.
“It doesn’t matter what has gone on through pre-season, when the league starts the pressure is immediately on because you know you have to get results and that gives you a tremendous buzz.”
Town were due to have their final training session last night with Aspin refusing to rule any player out of his squad at this stage.
“I will be looking to select from a full squad providing there are no last minute setbacks through injury,” said Aspin.
Town (from): Eastwood, Hardy, Lowe, L Hogan, Haggerty, McManus, Foster, Garner, Baker, Dean, Holland, Needham, Senior, Anderson, Gray, Toulson, Vardy, S Hogan, Winter, Gregory.