Nelson FC boss Mark Fell believes a top three finish in the North West Counties Premier Division will set the ideal platform for a promotion push next term.
Last year’s First Division champions have taken to the top tier with confidence and assurance as they sit sixth in the standings with 44 points from 25 league fixtures.
Fell’s side are currently nine points adrift of Ashton Athletic, who lie below title-chasing pair Runcorn Linnets and Glossop North End, though they have three games in hand on the Greater Manchester outfit.
“Our ambition hasn’t changed,” Fell said. “We’re sat fifth in the league which isn’t bad at all.
“We’re going about things in the right way and we’re in the mix for third place. There’s a group of teams down to about ninth position that are pushing for the top three and we’re in it.
“Glossop North End and Runcorn Linnets will challenge for the title but we’ve got to prove that we’re the best of the rest.”
Fell added: “If we finish third then we’ll put ourselves in the box seat for next season in terms of signing players. It would be a good bargaining tool. We’re certainly in the fight to finish there and that will give us the platform for a good push next year.
“We are keen to progress and press on. We’ve got a good grounding in this league now and I feel we can push for promotion next year. We’ve learnt so much from this term.”
Fell isn’t a man short of ambition, but he isn’t an individual lacking in realism either. The former Whinney Hill boss has hiked from Division Two of the West Lancashire League and now has the eighth tier of the English football pyramid in his sights.
And he’s started the transformation process at ‘Little Wembley’ ahead of the 2015/16 campaign already. Robert Grimes, Michael Morrison and Gareth Peet have been released by the Admirals, while former Clitheroe FC skipper Oliver Devenney has joined the ranks.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work out,” Fell said. “If you want to bring players in on our budget then it’s essential to re-shuffle. We know what we need for next season, we know we need to strengthen, and everything we’re doing now is gearing towards next season.
“Oliver is a good footballer, he’s full of energy and he’s experienced. He will make a big difference in midfield. It’s all about physique and fitness at this level and he’ll bring that dynamic that we’re looking for.”
The Blues face Runcorn Linnets tomorrow in Cheshire, knowing that they are the only side this term to inflict defeat on the league leaders. Joseph O’Neill and Morrison scored in a 2-1 win on home soil in November.
“We’re the only team that has beaten Runcorn Linnets in the league this season,” said Fell. “We were good value for that result at Victoria Park as well. That was affirmation of our ability to beat the best teams at this level.
“Our problem is consistency and that’s something we need to address. We’ve dropped some silly points against teams below us in the table. We are good enough to beat the top teams in this league but we need to adopt the mentality to find consistency in our results. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we beat Runcorn at the weekend.”