Hednesford Town have wasted no time in agreeing terms with eight of their victorious Play-Off winning squad ahead of their new campaign in the Conference North, with manager Rob Smith sounding confident that the main nucleus of a squad which amassed 93 points in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division can hold their own in the league above and make the step up.
‘I fully believe that this team is still very much in its infancy and has room to get a lot better and I also believe a lot of the squad are comfortably up to the level we are going into. This pre-season will be the opposite of last year where we made a lot of new signings. My main aim will be to keep this group together and I expect to do just that.’
The players who have committed themselves to Keys Park for next season include Semi-Final penalty shoot-out heroes Dan Crane and John Disney, the imperious centre half pairing of Francino Francis and Ben Bailey, club captain Darren Campion, midfield enforcer Dave MacPherson, ex-Bolton left winger Nathan Woolfe and 16-goal striker Michael Lennon.
Smith stated that while he is obviously keen to keep together the squad who performed so well last year there will be new signings, but those coming in will need to possess the same qualities which made The Pitmen so successful.
‘Any new signings will need to have the same attributes as the current crop. They will need to be good footballers with the type of never-say-die attitude that we witnessed in the run-in and play with the passion we are used to. If I can keep the team together and add a couple I am certain we can compete.’
Meanwhile The Pitmen have begun putting together their pre-season schedule with home matches versus local rivals Chasetown and Rushall Olympic in July, a second consecutive trip to AFC Newtown of the Welsh Premier Division and the now seemingly annual curtain-raiser at AFC Wulfrunians.