7:40am Saturday 17th August 2013
MANAGER Shaun Cunnington believes Evesham United can be a force to be reckoned with in the Calor Southern League Division One South and West this season.
The Robins kick off their campaign against Taunton Town at the Spiers and Hartwell Jubilee Stadium on Saturday (3pm) before visiting Cirencester Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Having finished 14th in their first season back following relegation from the Premier Division, Evesham will be keen to improve on that performance.
Cunnington feels he has a squad capable of being competitive and thinks the preseason programme will hold them in good stead.
He said: “We have had some really tough tests against some Conference North sides and have acquitted ourselves very well. We have got to be optimistic going into the new season.
“We have played some entertaining football and the squad is looking quite good.
“They will all be tough games during the season.
“It’s about how we set ourselves up and impose ourselves on the opposition game by game.
“We have certainly got enough quality in the squad to worry teams so we are optimistic.”
Although not setting any particular targets for his team, Cunnington is not about to settle for a season struggling at the wrong end of the table.
The former West Brom midfielder added: “As a manager you go into a new season trying to win promotion.
“If you don’t go in with that mindset, then you are up against it from the off. That’s where we want to be.”
Evesham will be without two defenders for the opening match with Richard Mansell and Marc Richards unavailable.
Left-back Mansell starts a three-game ban carried over from last season, while centre- half Richards is completing his UEFA ‘A’ coaching badge.
But Cunnington feels it will be a chance for other players to prove themselves.
There could be competitive debuts for the likes of goalkeeper John Bateman, defender James Loney and midfielders Michael Tambling and Mitch Botfield among others. Evesham had an encouraging build-up to the season despite a 3-1 defeat in their final pre-season friendly at home to Skrill North side Gloucester City.
Although Carl Brown gave the Robins an interval lead, the visitors hit back with three second-half goals to clinch a hard-fought win.
Evesham: Bateman, Jackson, Wilson, Loney, Sysum, Botfield, Williams, Barnfield, Palmer, Brown, Tambling. Subs: Rodrigues, Gould, McGee, John, Denton, Clarke.
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