Tom Norris – Football Reporter
The start of the new football season begins tomorrow, and YM will be hoping to build on a fantastic 2013-14 campaign for the club, which saw them crowned RUR Charity Cup winners, secure a fourth place finish in Division 1 and also battle through to the semi-finals of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup.
But manager Peter Buckland, who begins his third season in charge at Gorings Mead, knows that things won’t be easy for his side.
“I am very excited about the upcoming campaign. Last season was a milestone in the club’s recent history and will be a hard act to follow, but we are one hundred percent as a unit and will be looking to sustain last season’s success.
“The players are being made aware that as a result of last season we shall be seen as a scalp, and teams will be coming to Gorings Mead hell bent on an upset. We must rise to this and deal with it.”
YM have retained the majority of last season’s squad, with only two players exiting the club, whilst they have also recaptured the services of three former players in goalkeeper Elliott Flack, defender Joe Ransom, and forward Chris Williams.
Buckland commented: “We are pleased to announce that we shall be operating with a squad of twenty players. This should give us good cover all over the pitch when unavailability, injuries and suspensions affect selection. The core of the squad remains the same as last season, which is a very close-knit group of players.”
YM’s Division 1 campaign kicks off away at newly promoted Eastbourne United AFC on Saturday 9th August, before local rivals Broadbridge Heath visit Gorings Mead three days later on Tuesday 12th August.
Buckland added: “I think this year’s league is the toughest for a long time. We have two more local derbies to contend with, after great seasons for Loxwood and Broadbridge Heath. On top of that, there are the two Eastbourne teams and the usual strong sides in East Preston, Dorking Wanderers, Hassocks and Littlehampton, to name just a few.”
Away from Division 1, YM’s FA Cup crusade begins with a home tie against Combined Counties Division 1 side Alton Town in the competition’s Extra Preliminary Round on Saturday 16th August, whilst their FA Vase campaign does not start until the First Round proper begins on Saturday 1st November. Meanwhile, Buckland’s side have drawn Division 1 rivals Littlehampton Town in the Second Round of the Peter Bentley League Cup, and will also hope to emulate last season’s successes in both the Sussex Senior and RUR Charity Cups.
Pre-season has provided a mixed bag of results for YM, with defeats to Roffey (2-1), Epsom and Ewell (2-5) and Dorking (3-4), but victories over Midhurst (9-0) and Mile Oak (5-0).
Boss Buckland concluded: “It is a very tough year ahead. The stadium is tidy, the pitch is brilliant, and we’re all set for another chapter in the club’s history. Let’s hope it’s a good one!”