NEW SEASON PREVIEW: AFC Mansfield’s new challenge

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AFC Mansfield begin a new challenge this Saturday after gaining promotion to the Northern Counties East League Division One.

The Bulls achieved this by being crowned champions of the Central Midlands North Division and also picking up the League Challenge Cup trophy as well.

The club have always said their ultimate goal is to play Evo-Stik League football, however long that may take.

Preparations are underway to welcome Selby Town on Saturday for their first ever game in the NCEL.

There has been a lot of work done on the playing surface through the summer and the dressing rooms and the tea bar have had a lick of paint and new flooring laid.

Manager Micky Taylor has been busy building a side capable of challenging for honours at Step Six.

New players into the club are Ashley Kitchen, Adam Kimberley, Cameron Fearon, Kyle Ludlow, Danny Plumbe, Adam Somes, Danny Claridge, Gavin Saxby, Khyle Sargent and Mark Robinson, returning from a spell at Teversal.

Taylor has retained some of last season’s squad in Joe Naylor, Danny Naylor, Chris Timons, Phil Buxton, Darren Bettison, Dean Rick, Carl Haslam, Callum Green, Danny McLane and Joe Ward, who was missing from most of last season with a bad injury.

On top of this some of the U21 squad have signed senior forms Liam Bacon, Danny Barke, Brad Wilson, Declan Brewin and Toby Birch.

Manager Taylor said: “I have been pleased with the signings the club has made and the job now is to mould them into a team capable of challenging for honours.

“Many of the new players have performed at a higher level than we will be playing at and, despite other clubs pursuing both the new and some of last season’s players, they have all committed to AFC Mansfield.

“This shows that the club are doing things the right way and the players can see we are heading in the right direction.

“I have no grand three or five year plan, football is too fluid a game to plan that far ahead. We work in the here and now and take positives from each game we play and try to iron out any mistakes along the way.

“I never stop looking for good players and there maybe still a couple of signings to come in, if not before the start of the season then very soon after.

“We have won four trophies in two years and everybody at the club has a hunger for more success. This will be difficult this season but it won’t be for the want of trying.”

The club have also moved their U19 side up a grade and they will now be competing in The North Midlands U21 League.

Manager Jason Truscott and assistant Alex Weston have also added to their coaching staff and welcome Craig Cantrell and Pete Hall. Craig is one of last season’s championship-winning first team and Pete is e- RAF and has represented them at national level in football. He has also coached for UK Athletics and is currently working as a personal trainer and is responsible for the fitness training for the U21 squad.

The U21s are yet to be finalised, but early signs have been promising and, all in all, the club as a whole can’t wait for the season to start.