NEWPORT Pagnell Town manager Darren Lynch says he wants his side to maintain their fantastic form at the end of last season and challenge for the United Counties League Premier Division title.
The Swans went on a stunning 12-game unbeaten run – including nine wins – at the end of last season that saw them finish 5th in the table.
That run was made more impressive in light of the team’s mid-season dip in form following their disappointing FA Vase fourth round exit to Ashington AFC at Willen Road in January.
Lynch’s men made history by reaching the last 32 before going down 3-2 at home to their Northumberland opponents, but the Swans’ league form faded after that as they dropped out of contention at the top of the table, and bowed out of the Berks & Bucks Trophy at the quarter final stage.
However, they recovered spectacularly to earn Lynch the Manager of the Month award for March, and restore their pride towards the end of another good campaign.
And after challenging towards the top of the UCL Premier Division for the last few years, Lynch – set to start his second full season in charge – says it’s about time the men from Willen Road went for the title.
He said: “We feel we’ve got a really good chance this season. We’ve got a good team with all the guys coming back again, plus I have a couple of new players in mind.
“With the likes of St Neots and Kings Lynn now gone it looks a bit more open at the top. But there’s always one team that has a reputation for spending big and this year it’s Spalding.
“But we’ll have to wait and see. We were disappointed with the way we went out of the Vase and the lads struggled for a few weeks because we knew we missed a good chance. We should have won that game.
“But we finished really well in the end, and I want us to take that confidence and form into the new season.
“We’re playing a bit more football than maybe we have in recent years. We’re now getting the ball down and playing, and the majority of the team are very good on the ball. But we’ll never lose the fighting spirit we have always had.
“I want to win the league but it won’t be easy. As the most southern team in the division people often forget about us which works in our favour. I just want the rest of the league to know we’re there!”
>> Tattenhoe Youth FC will benefit from a £5,000 ‘Grow the Game’ grant from the Football Foundation.
The grant will allow the club to sustain rapid growth over the next three years in a bid to get more young people in the area playing football.
Tattenhoe Youth will be able to fund the addition of two new teams, and fully train six new coaches which will help to cater for around 60 new children – boys and girls of ages U7 to U12.
The core objective of the Grow the Game programme is to increase participation and enable more people to play football through supporting the development of grassroots clubs. The plan is delivered in partnership with all the 46 County FAs and funded by The FA and Government. So far Grow the Game has awarded 894 separate grants worth £4,354,926 to clubs.
Craig Pirie, chairman of Tattenhoe Youth, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and the funding is so important to the club.
“It will enable us to continue to cope and fund the demand that we’re currently experiencing. We’re absolutely delighted and cannot thank the Football Foundation enough for helping to improve our project for growth.”