It may be argued that Chatteris Town could have improved on their season so far heading into the festive break, but it’s safe to say they have already confirmed their status as a top-flight team.
The Lilies sit fourth in the Cambridgeshire Kershaw Premier League, 11 points adrift of third and 16 off leaders Great Shelford, their first league victims of the campaign back in August.
But after a promising start, a run of inconsistent results has left Ashley Taylor’s men a fair distance behind the leading pack, having dropped 19 points so far.
Winning six of the first eight games of the season saw the Lilies leap into the top four, before a dry patch of four wins from the last nine have seen Taylor’s side fall off the pace and into a battle for top-four status.
With our team being so young, we can only get better
Despite this, Town’s boss remains optimistic with the improvements he has witnessed.
“At this stage, I’m satisfied with where we are”, Taylor said.
“The expectation this season was to establish ourselves as a competitive Kershaw Premier team and so far, we have done that.
“Progress has definitely been made and I would say we are the youngest team in the league, but the best thing about this is we are always getting better.
“With our team being so young, we will only get better, but to do this, we need to all have the right attitude and keep working hard.
“Having no cup games can only be a positive for us as we can solely concentrate on the league.
“The top three are very strong and this is evident with how the league stands at present.
“We are doing well, but we must believe that we can do better as everything can be improved.”
The Reserve Team look to be making progress of their own having recently rose into the top six following three wins in their last six games in Mead Plant & Grab 1B.
It’s not just the league where things are looking up as the second string’s involvement in three cup competitions has raised hopes of silverware.
Our progress so far has probably been expected
However, advances on the pitch have not been easy to come by.
“The job is tougher than I expected”, manager Benji Brittin said.
“The availability of players has been hard to come by due to injuries and progression into the first-team, but that’s what the Reserves are there to do.
“Losing key players hasn’t helped injury-wise and you accept this in football, but losing them to the first-team, however, is great as it means I’m doing my job properly.
“The league is tougher than the lads first thought, but our progress so far has probably been expected.”
Alongside the difficulties of forming a full squad is balancing progress in both league and cup, which Brittin believes is minimal, although having scored the fourth-lowest amount in the league so far.
“Our progress in the cup hasn’t really affected our league performance”, Brittin added.
“We seem to be up for cup matches, we never give up and our desire to win these games is brilliant.
“Our league form could do with improvement, but we’re now aiming for a top-four finish, which I’ll take.
“For us to improve, we need more bonding and fitness. I’ve struggled to start the same team for two games running, but any side I field, I trust and believe they can do the job.
“We know we’ve not been more deadly with our finishing in and around goal, but we are creating chances all the time and if that was not happening, I’d be concerned.”
Eight wins in thirteen matches has seen Roger Manchett’s A Team climb to second in Mead Plant & Grab 4B, something of a major difference compared to last season’s second-from-bottom finish.
And as Manchett says, there have been a few areas that have lead to his side’s development, including only one home league defeat so far.
“The A Team has made a good start to the season”, he said.
“The players have grown since last year and are playing some good football.
“They are playing for each other and we play an attacking style of football, which is good to watch.
“There is a togetherness about the side and we’ve managed to keep a settled side week in week out.
“There is encouragement within the team and we’ve signed a couple of new players.
“We are currently second, which speaks volumes for the effort the players have put in.
“If we can keep the team together, we aim to finish in the top five.”