Hughes delighted with his squad's unbeaten pre-season
WHATEVER shortcomings the new-look Cirencester Town have, a lack of character won’t be one of them, writes Danny Hall.
Only five players remain from the side relegated from the Evo-Stik Southern Premier last term and boss Brian Hughes is delighted with the squad he has been able to assemble on a much reduced budget – not least because they have come through pre-season unbeaten.
They ended their warm-up campaign with a behind-closed-doors 2-2 draw against Bath City at the University of Bath complex.
“It was a hastily arranged game because I think Bath had missed a couple of matches,” said Hughes. “We turned up with just 11 players and we had to borrow a goalie as Matt Bath was away.
“We were 2-0 down after five minutes but we kept a reasonable shape and showed good fitness levels, getting a draw thanks to goals from Scott Griffin and Aidan Bennett.
“They brought on a fresh team in the second half and we were getting battered but the lads showed great character.
“Last season was a struggle even from pre-season – it feels different this time around.”
Hughes will work with ‘a core squad of 13 men’ topped up by kids from the Development Team and Academy. He has appointed a new captain in Matt Sysum and hopes he has found the goalscorer he so badly missed last season in Sam Collier.
“We are expecting big things of Sys this season,” said Hughes. “He is a good character in the dressing room and has every attribute to be a leader.
“I have also been really pleased with Sam. He was very down on himself after missing six or seven chances at Fairford but he made every one of those chances himself and you can see why he has a good scoring record.”
Since Fairford, Collier has got off the mark with goals against both Gloucester City and Longlevens.
Town begin their league campaign at Mangotsfield on Saturday, while Hughes is already relishing the visit on Tuesday night of big-spending North Leigh.
Wayne Turk, Jon Else and Zak Westlake all opted to switch to North Leigh after being part of Hughes’s relegated team last season.