Chatteris Town manager Ashley Taylor feels his side are ready for the visit of last year’s Kershaw Premier Division winners Great Shelford after coming off the back of a hard-fought pre-season.
The Lilies return to Cambridgeshire football’s top flight after a three-year absence, but face a tough test in their first league fixture against the team they conquered to win the Cliff Bullen Challenge Cup in April when they meet on 9th August (Tuesday, kick-off at 7.45pm) at West Street.
But after fairly mixed fortunes in a short run of pre-season friendlies, Taylor thinks his players will be able to progress on what they have learned. “The whole purpose of pre-season was to play Step 5 and Step 6 teams, and the reason we did that was because of the success last year”, Taylor said. “I think it’s been a good learning curve because they (the players) have realised that when you do step up, energy levels, fitness levels and the quality has got to be improved. I think we’ve been competitive, which is really good.”
Although there have been bright areas to see on the pitch, there are still more to be worked on, according to the former Doddington United boss. “An improvement to be made is teamwork. I also think knowhow and experience (can be improved), which we will gain from playing better teams. I think communication is the biggest improvement as we are a young team, so one part of our game we have to work on is giving each other better information and that is what we have been trying to do in training.”
Three defeats, a draw and a win may not be what the doctor ordered heading into the new season, but results are of low value to Taylor, with the main aim of gaining all-important fitness potentially being achieved. “I think fitness-wise and condition-wise, we are good and I think we are ready for next Tuesday”, he stated.
And in terms of facing their next opponents, as well as accomplishing the league objective, it seems weight may have been lifted off the shoulders of the Lilies. “The mood is good because there is no expectancy”, Taylor said. “The expectancy for Chatteris Town this year is to make sure we stay in the league and consolidate, so we have got nothing to lose. For me, there is nothing better than playing against the champions in the first game because it is the biggest challenge; they are the benchmark team so let’s see what we have got.”
The 2016/17 season could turn out to be a totally different campaign to what supporters and others alike saw last time out, but success could still yet be achieved, just in another form.