BLUES stalwart Alan Pickering believes the new management team at Victoria Park is pushing the club back in the right direction.
The joint management team of Michael Morrison and Robert Grimes, along with first team coach Shadab Iftikhar, have moulded Nelson FC’s best start to a campaign since the 2005/06 promotion season.
On that occasion the Blues won five of their seven opening fixtures, culminating the season in third place in the NWC Second Division to register their first promotion in 83 years.
And Pickering believes the trio are on course to repeat that feat. “They are doing really well,” he beamed. “We’ve only lost one league game from six so far so you’d definitely take that. We’ve had a great start, our best start to a season for a long while. I think it’s our best start since we won promotion. It’s going better than expected.”
He added: “The two managers and Shadab couldn’t have worked any harder in their attempt to move this club forward. Pre-season was one of the best I’ve ever seen in my time in football, it was superb. They’ve put in a lot of effort and commitment. They are doing their best for the football club.”
The Blues sit 11th in the First Division, boasting 11 points from six games, though they exited the League Challenge Cup with a first round defeat to Rochdale Town at weekend. Jonathan Hodgkinson (pictured, courtesy of Mark Wilkinson) gave the Blues a 17th minute lead at Little Wembley, but Ricardo Brandao and Kristian Evans responded for the visitors.
“There was no emphasis whatsoever put on the cup competitions,” said Pickering. “It gave the management the opportunity to experiment, give fringe players a chance and see what they had to offer.
“The club has new management, new players, there’s been a complete overhaul which can take time to bed. Anybody, even clubs targeting promotion, would have taken the start we’ve had.”
And Pickering is adamant that chairman Fayyaz Ahmed shares his enthusiasm. “The managers are still finding their feet but I’m delighted with the progress,” he said. “They’ve brought a good brand of football with them. The chairman is very pleased with the way things are going. He’s very realistic and understands that we can’t win every game. But this bodes well for the future of the club and we’re certainly heading in the right direction.”
Nelson’s midweek Lancashire Co-Operative Challenge Trophy first round tie was abandoned following the death of Bacup Borough’s Bryan Herbert who had been a member of the club’s playing squad for 11 years. The Lancashire FA postponed the fixture as a mark of respect.
Pickering said: “We would like to pass on our sincere condolences at this sad time. Our thoughts are with Bryan’s family and Bacup Football Club.”
• EARBY Town lost 6-4 at AFC Colne, after a horror show at the back.
They went 2-0 down inside 20 minutes, then in a five-minute spell four goals were scored. Matt Bowker scored at the back post from a free kick by Gavin Garbutt, but a mix up let Colne in for a third, before Town were caught out to concede another soft goal.
Joseph Pilling pulled another back for Earby,but the goals dried up until five minutes into the second half when again Earby gifted Colne a goal, and the last 20 minutes saw three more goals in the space of seven minutes.
Earby got caught out again at the back, then Adam Smith and substitute Paul Oldroyd made it 6-4.
Today Town are at home to Hellifield, match sponsor Mark Brierley.
The reserves are at Skipton Town.