STONY Stratford Town manager Chris Miller is coming to the end of his Sports Management degree, and he’s hoping to give his new side a lesson in how to win South Midlands League matches.
The 31-year-old took over at Ostlers Lane in July after Stony finished bottom of Division One. But having experienced life battling it out at the wrong end of the table himself with Amersham Town, Miller thinks he’s the perfect man to lead Stony to better things this term.
And they got off to the perfect start on Saturday with a 1-0 home in over Wodson Park. New recruit Vinny Gilbert bagged the only goal – his third goal on debut under Miller having previously played for him at Amersham and Bucks Students Union.
It was at the Buckinghamshire New University side that Miller started to make a name for himself, leading the club to Division Two success before jumping up a level to Division One with Amersham, who like Stony, were fighting to keep their place in the league.
Miller departed Amersham in February after just four months in charge, moving to Stony in the summer after former boss Gary Marling stepped down.
However, after their encouraging start to the season on Saturday, it was back down to earth with a bump for Stony on Tuesday night when they crashed 5-0 at Tokyngton Manor.
But undeterred, Miller believes Stony can once again be a force in the SML, as long as they discover a winning mentality sooner rather than later.
He said: “I told the players that leagues are not won or lost in two games and to be fair Tokyngton will be one of the best sides we play this season.
“Three goals in a 13 minute spell at the end of the first half cost us and we never really recovered. We have a lot of quality at the club but we lack experience at this level of football.
“I’m confident we can build a team that will do a lot better than last season and the good thing for us is that we don’t have to wait long to get back out there with a game at Chesham Utd Reserves on Saturday.”
Stony aren’t short on the ground when it comes to numbers at the club, with 22 players taking to the field for the reserves in a friendly match against North Bucks outfit Celtic MK while the first team were losing at Tokyngton.
“All 22 players played a half each and the signs are good,” said Miller. “We have lots of quality at the club and strength in depth. We just need to string a couple of results together and I’m sure we’ll move in the right direction.”
It’s a win and a defeat for Stony, but it’s back-to-back victories for New Bradwell St Peter who have burst out of the blocks at lightning pace.
They thrashed Kentish Town 4-0 away from home on Saturday before grinding out a highly impressive 3-1 victory at Buckingham Athletic on Tuesday night.
Those superb performance have put them joint top of the Division One table with Tokyngton and Cockfosters ahead of a trip to Welwyn Garden City on Saturday. There’s then an early season local derby when Peters visit Stony next Tuesday.
The Division Two season kicks-off this weekend with the city’s three sides all determined to improve on poor seasons last time out. Bletchley Town begin with a home game against Totternhoe, Old Bradwell visit The 61 FC (Luton), and MK Wanderers host Pitstone & Ivinghoe.
>> Newport Pagnell Town begin their FA Cup adventure again this Saturday when they visit Witney United in the extra preliminary round. The Swans have a fine history in the competition and manager Darren Lynch says he’s determined to maintain that reputation.
The game will also be a distraction from the Swans’ tough start to the United Counties Premier League season. Lynch’s men were downed 3-0 at home by Boston Town on Saturday, but did bounce back to beat Peterborough North Star 1-0 at Willen Road on Tuesday night – Richard Armstrong scoring in the final minute.
Lynch said: “I told the players that under no circumstances do we lose two games in a row, and to be fair the lads responded in the perfect fashion. It wasn’t a pretty game but we had to grind out a result.
“Now it’s on to Witney. Everyone loves playing in the FA Cup and although it will be tough, I back my players to beat anyone on their day.”
Olney Town began their UCL Division One campaign with a dramatic 3-2 win over Northampton Sileby Rangers – after trailing 2-0 at half time.
Second half goals from Pete Lindsay, Sam Parrish and last season’s top scorer Stewart Allan sealed a memorable win for the Nurserymen who visit Wootton Blue Cross in their first away game on Saturday.