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Herring's joy as Town pull off the great escape

Crusaders beat the odds to retain place in National League South

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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Herring's joy as Town pull off the great escape

HUNGERFORD Town manager Ian Herring spoke of his joy at achieving the goal of retaining the club’s National League South status.

The Crusaders needed a point on the final day of the season against East Thurrock United at Bulpit Lane – and a 94th-minute strike from defender Noah Chesmain clinched a 1-1 draw.

The point ensured that Town avoided the drop as they finished three points above the relegation zone.

“Now the dust has settled I am absolutely delighted, obviously,”  said Herring. “It is job done really because at the start of the season I knew  the constraints I would have to work under.

“I knew that I had the lowest budget in the league and I have never once gone over that or complained about it.

“I backed my own ability and with the people around me – including the help from Kevin [Watson] – I knew we could get the best out of the players and keep the club in the division.”

Herring made the most of the celebrations, saying it was the best day he has had at the football club.

“The players have worked tremendously hard for this football club and they genuinely deserve all of the credit.

“We have had players come and go over the course of the season and the group that finished the season with us all really wanted to be here, not just for me or the club, but for our wonderful supporters who have travelled home and away, no matter how far.

“I have a lot to thank Birmingham City, Colchester United and Bristol Rovers for, because the loan players that we have utilised have had a brilliant attitude and they’ve been first-class.

“To see the players with the fans is fantastic and it’s definitely the best day I have ever seen at the football club.” Herring added: “It’s been a long season because of the ups and downs we have had, but the young group we have put together has just got better and better.

“Not only have they got the ability, but they have the belief and they showed resilience.

“The lads have scored some vital late goals. You look at Billericay [Town] away, when we won 2-1 after being behind.

“Obviously, there was the win against Torquay United on Easter Monday and then Saturday’s 94th-minute goal.”

Decision to stop was right

Herring started the season as a player/manager, but midway through the campaign he announced his decision to retire.

“There were reasons for it,” he said. “I thought that the young group needed experience, but you can’t do everything.

“I am so grateful we have stayed in the league and what the players have given, because I ended my playing career when I could have stayed on for a couple of years.

“There have been times when I have questioned myself, my decisions, but the end goal has been achieved and to stop playing for the benefit of the team and my family has proved to be the right one.”

Even though the campaign is barely a week old, Herring has confirmed that plans have already been put in place for next season.

“I have already arranged friendlies for next season,” admitted Herring. “Obviously it was up in the air in regards to what division we would be in.

“I will be meeting the chairman Patrick [Chambers] to discuss the football and we’ll be planning for next season.”

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