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Crusaders ready for opening game at St Albans

Hungerford open their National League South campaign this weekend

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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Crusaders ready for opening game at St Albans

HUNGERFORD Town boss Ian Herring will turn his attention to the National League South campaign opener at St Albans City on Saturday.

The Crusaders concluded their preparations for the new season with a 1-0 home win against Bracknell Town on Saturday, thanks to a second-half Matt Jones goal.

Herring, who played the full 90 minutes, was happy to head into a new campaign with a win under their belt after a mixed set of results in pre-season.

“It was good to finish with a win and a clean sheet,” he said. “I think there’s a lot that I would like us as a group to improve on.

“They’re a couple of leagues below us and I think they’re going for promotion again and they have a couple of players that used to play for us, so there was a bit riding on the game.”

Herring admitted that he had one eye on Saturday’s league opener with St Albans when choosing the team in their final pre-season game.

The 34-year-old admitted that centre-backs James Rusby and Marvel Ekpieta were suffering from slight knocks and didn’t want to take any risks.

Herring praised Rusby and Richie Whittingham as they decided to remain at Bulpit Lane, despite most of last season’s squad leaving.

He said: “I have the upmost respect for James and Richie, in the sense that they’ve put all their trust in me and the club to build a team that will have a chance in the league.

“We’ve had a lot of trialists, which has been tough because we’ve had to be patient with them to give them reasonable opportunities, as well as giving the signed-on lads some rest time.”

The Crusaders boss was also delighted for Reading under-18s goalkeeper Jokull Andresson, who has joined the club on loan.

Herring said: “It means a lot to him – it’s his first clean sheet and his first win, so he’s delighted.

“It shows what I am like, putting trust in a 16-year-old boy coming in to play National League South football.

“I think there were one or two that went through the emotions in the second half and I think they can learn a lot from Jokull about how to keep the standards high in every session.”

Final plans are put into place

With preparations coming to close with a final training session on Thursday (tonight), Herring is excited to get going on Saturday.

He said: “It’s what we’ve all been waiting for since we stayed up on the last day of the season.

“It’s a hard place to go, but everywhere is in this league, so we’ll prepare for them and I have every belief that the players I put out will give a good account of themselves.”

Although Herring has an idea of how he may line up at Clarence Park on Saturday, he admitted that places are still up for grabs.

He said: “The 11 players have got the shirt, so it’s down to them to keep hold of it for Saturday, but there are still one or two places that are up for grabs and nobody is assured a start in my team.”

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