Thu, 25 Jul 2019
HUNGERFORD Town manager Ian Herring will have a formidable array of firepower to call upon in the National League South this season.
Herring has reassembled his squad since they avoided relegation on the final day of last season.
And to that end he has snapped up a strike force that will be as potent as any in the division.
Herring swooped to snap up former team-mate and Oxford United goalscoring legend James Constable from Poole Town in the summer.
And in the last week he has signed Liam Ferdinand – a key member of Thatcham Town’s Hellenic League-winning side – from Bracknell Town.
Those two will guarantee goals – and add Conor Lynch and young Ali Thorpe from Kintbury Rangers into the mix and Hungerford will have plenty of competition for places up front.
The Crusaders have made several other important signings, bringing in former Reading and Hearts under-20 winger Zidan Akers, midfielder Louis McGrory (Weston), Matt Berry-Hargreaves (Oxford), winger Kofi Halliday and Marcus Johnson-Schuster, who made a big impact at Bulpit Lane towards the end of last season.
Herring is delighted with the shape of his squad and he said: “We have got 16 players signed on and the squad is coming together.
“The main thing is to get everyone fit enough for the start of the season on August 3.
“It comes around quickly, but the players have been back training and they are getting fitter, sharper and stronger with every session.
“This time last year we only had two senior players who stayed from the previous season, but this time we have seven or eight.
“We feel that the additions to the squad have improved us and we are in a much stronger position than we were at this stage last season.
“There is competition all over the pitch, but it is only pre-season and it is hard to gauge where we are.”
Herring’s loan signings proved crucial to Hungerford’s survival last season and he will add several more to his squad in the coming weeks.
Links with Birmingham City and Bristol Rovers in particular paid dividends.
And Herring said: “We do things the right way here and treat the loan players like professionals.
“We work hard off the pitch as well with things like loan reports, so we have a good relationship with the clubs.”
There is a feelgood factor at Bulpit Lane at the moment.
The club was on the verge taking voluntary relegation last season until new chairman Patrick Chambers and vice-chairman Carl Reader came to the rescue.
But Herring is under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead.
He said: “We are up against big non-league clubs like Weymouth and Dorking, so if we manage to stay in the division, what an achievement that would be.”
Hungerford will entertain League 2 Newport County in a pre-season friendly at Bulpit Lane on Saturday (1pm). Newport were beaten by Tranmere in last year’s play-off final and snapped up Hungerford’s Marvel Ekpiteta in the close season.