Sleaford Town FC look to youth after squad upheaval

Town manager Jamie Shaw (right) with assistant Richard Kinniburgh EMN-190729-185244002
Town manager Jamie Shaw (right) with assistant Richard Kinniburgh EMN-190729-185244002

Sleaford Town will put their faith in youth next season after large-scale departures over the summer.

Town enjoyed their best campaign in recent years last season when Jamie Shaw guided the Green Army to a finish of 13th in the United Counties League Premier.

It was the first chance Shaw had had to work with a settled squad, having been pitched into the fray on the eve of the 2017/18 season with the barest of squads.

With most clubs at Town’s level, and even some in the tier below, boasting far superior financial muscle, Shaw knows hanging onto his best players will always be a challenge without a playing budget.

But he is boosted by the club’s recent success at under 18s level.

He said: “Pre-season has been very transitional this year as the large majority of last year’s squad have moved on to pastures new and we have had to look to rebuild.

“With the financial constraints that we have at the club we have had to do this by looking to bring in talented youngsters who are hungry to prove their quality.

“Obviously this will have it’s downsides, as while they have undoubted talent, they don’t have the experience at this level and there will be inconsistencies.”

On the coaching side Town have brought in Matt O’Halloran from Lincoln City’s youth set-up to work alongside Shaw, Jay Harrison and Richard Kinniburgh.

But perhaps the biggest change behind the scenes this summer was the return of former long-serving manager Brian Rowland as chairman, replacing Kevin Newman.

In that troubled first season, Shaw pulled off a minor miracle to avoid relegation with an 18th-placed finish.

In a high-quality league, Town’s former prolific striker is loathe to set specific league targets this term, and more importantly believes the club must develop as a whole rather than just through the results of the First XI.

Shaw added: “From a target point of view, both on and off the pitch we are determined to make the club a sustainable entity and not one that’s chasing short-term success at the detriment to long-term security and stability.

“Obviously we always want to win as many games as possible, but it’s also vital that we continue to develop young talent so we have a prosperous future ahead.”

* Town begin their season with a home clash with Oadby Town at Eslaforde park on Saturday. Kick-off is 3pm.