Hedges and Bennett offer promise for the future
CIRENCESTER TOWN manager Brian Hughes insists on staying positive despite a ‘torrid’ season that saw his side relegated from the Southern Premier League, writes Danny Hall.
Town were officially demoted after the 1-0 home defeat to Bashley on Saturday, only to bounce back with dominant display and 3-2 victory at Evesham on Easter Monday.
In a season when they have won just two games at home, it was their fifth victory on the road – the same as both Stourbridge and Leamington who are on the fringes of the play-offs.
“No one likes getting beaten and I have a professional pride having been in the game for 30 years,” said Hughes, who has won two promotions in his two spells at the club.
“I was relegated from the old 3rd to the 4th division as a player with Swindon and I did not jack it in.
“We will recharge over the summer and go again. I want to put it right.”
Hughes is clear about why his side faced the drop.
“It was a combination of factors and I have to take my share of the responsibility.
“The retirement of Lyndon Tomkins was a massive miss for the side at both ends of the pitch. In the previous season, he scored 14 goals and defended for his life.
“Losing keeper Matt Bulman to Forest Green was another huge blow but how could he turn down the chance of full-time football.
“You can’t replace that quality of player for £80.
“Then there were the injuries to key players like Matt Sysum, Jody Bevan and Richard Mansell. They are not just good players but big characters in the changing room.
“And, of course, there is always the lack of money – other clubs can buy their way out of trouble.
“I had my doubts in pre-season. I courted countless players from a higher level and they cited the standard of football in the division as the reason for not coming, but really we know it was about the money.
“We were the lowest scorers in the league and that says it all.”
But Hughes insists it is not all doom and gloom.
“There have been a lot of positives in the last few weeks,” said Hughes. “Mike Hedges is learning fast and developing into a fine keeper; there has been the emergence of Aiden Bennett into one of my better players and, due to circumstances, Jamie Reid has been turned into a centre back, a position where I think he can thrive.
“Looking around we have a great facility and are completely debt free. What other clubs can say that.”