East Midlands Counties League
Published 4th August 2012
.....Midlands Counties League campaign today.
The Asfordby Hill club return to action a full fortnight before their professional Football League counterparts, but Daws insists they will be fit and ready for the new season.
The early start is down to FA rules which insist all clubs play a league match before the FA Cup which begins for Holwell with an Extra Preliminary Round tie at Sleaford Town on August 11th.
Holwell’s first league opponents, Basford United, will be unfamiliar foes, but the Nottinghamshire club look set to take the EMCL by storm.
Basford arrive buoyed by back-to-back promotions, including the Central Midlands League title at the first attempt last term, and boast a frontline which includes former Stoke City and Peterborough United forward Martin Carruthers and ex-Nottingham Forest winger Craig Westcarr.
The tough start is reminiscent of last season when Holwell began at home to title favourites Oadby Town. Holwell struggled to regain their morale after a 5-0 opening day defeat and Daws is eager to avoid a similar sequence.
He said: “Basford are like a `Who’s Who` of Nottingham football and will arrive at our ground with an appetite, but the main thing is not to get beat.
“After Oadby last year the players’ heads went down and it took a while to pick them up again. So it’s important to get a result, especially to take into the FA Cup the following week.”
Daws has strengthened the squad in all areas, notably centre forward Paul O’Callaghan from Bardon Hill, left winger Liam Scott from Melton Town, keeper Jordan King from Ibstock Welfare, as well as Aaron Ridout, who returns to his former club from ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League side Yaxley.
Promising youngsters Sam and Tom Muggleton, sons of former pro keeper Carl, have been elevated from the youth team into the first-team squad, while centre half Billy Stubbs has committed to Holwell.
Importantly, Daws has also managed to hold on to the bulk of the existing squad, including crucially, last season’s leading scorer Jay Kirkby. Gary Drake has left Welby Road to take over as Cottesmore manager and takes with him defender Andy Teare, while Fred Stannard has moved to Arnold Town.
Holwell will be led by a new skipper Dom Hallows who takes the armband from his defensive counterpart Antony Snelgrove.
Pre-season results on paper have been mixed with three defeats combined with a 5-0 home win against Southwell City. Their final pre-season outing, against Newark Town on Tuesday, ended in a 5-4 loss, but the match was notable for a stirring comeback and, perhaps, a renewed fighting spirit.
Daws added: “We’ve had four tough games which is what you want. We knew it would be difficult against Newark who are a tough, strong side and we were 3-0 down at half-time.
“But I was pleased with how we came back in the second half and showed our fitness levels are where they need to be. They kept going right to the end to try and level the match and I think things are shaping up nicely.
“The standards are high in the league and anyone can beat anyone else. It’s all about getting a good start and going on a run.
“If we can start this season like we finished the last one, we have a chance to be right up there.”