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Crusaders aiming to kick off with a win

Hungerford travel to Hemel Hempstead Town for the first game of the National League South season

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886629

Crusaders aiming to kick off with a win

HUNGERFORD Town manager Ian Herring is determined to get off to a winning start in the National League South, which kicks off on Saturday.

Town face an away trip to Hemel Hempstead Town in their opening game, before hosting local rivals Slough Town just three days later.

The games come thick and fast for the Crusaders, who play a total of eight games this month.

And Herring said: “We need to hit the ground running because if you don’t start well you have a bit of a mountain to climb, but if you do get off to a good start, who knows what September can bring.

“We need to take one game at a time and all of our concentration has to go into Saturday and when that is done and dusted we can move on.

“We stayed in the league last season and now it’s our fourth year in this division and we’re in it because of merit and not just to make up the numbers,” admitted Herring.

The Crusaders rounded off their pre-season preparations with a 3-0 home defeat against League 2 side Newport County.

Herring said: “Obviously it’s disappointing to not score and concede three goals, but you have to remember the opposition that we faced.

“I am grateful to Michael Flynn and Newport for coming to Bulpit Lane because it was arranged at such short notice and what a wonderful game for us to have before the season starts.

“They have gone really strong today and it was probably his best 11 that started the game.

“The goals were a little bit disappointing. If you can’t defend the first ball, you have to be able to defend the second because we allowed the lad too much space.”

The game saw the return to Bulpit Lane of former defender Marvel Ekpiteta, who moved to Newport earlier this summer and who played in the second half.

Despite the result, Herring saw improvements from Hungerford.

He said: “We had opportunities, the lads worked hard and it was great being able to face a football league side.

“I felt we got stronger in the second half and all round it was very pleasing, but there is stuff to work on.”

Hungerford enjoyed wins against Calne Town and Fairford Town in pre-season, and included several new players.

Herring said: “Obviously we have had new faces come in and the squad is good.

“If I can add more I will, but on the whole the lads are getting to know each other.

“I think that will happen quicker than it did last season and we’re in a better position now than we were last season.

“Unfortunately, it’s a tough league no matter who you face and we have eight games in August, so come the end of the month we can see how good our pre-season has been.”

Herring has been pleased with what he has seen in training and he’s expecting players to be fighting for their place.

He said: “Everyone is getting an opportunity to  fight for a starting position against Hemel on Saturday.

“If you’re not in the 11, then you have to make sure that you’re in the 16, so everyone is working towards that.”

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