Promotion is the wanted prize in Colne boss’ project

Colne manager Steve Cunningham who is serving a four game stadium ban watched the game from over the fence.
Colne manager Steve Cunningham who is serving a four game stadium ban watched the game from over the fence.

Innovative Colne boss Steve Cunningham is hopeful that the second year of his development project at the XLCR Stadium will push the club closer to promotion.

The former Padiham FC assistant, who earned a championship medal with the Storks as Steve Wilkes’s assistant in 2013, is eyeing a top four finish in the North West Counties Premier Division this term as he looks to make a statement.

Nigel Coates’s successor has pushed the Reds to mid-table at the halfway point this season but games in hand could potentially see the club usurp rivals Nelson in fifth spot.

“We’re at the start of a three year project and this season is the first building block in that,” he said. “We’ll be looking to have a promotion push next year because we’ve assembled the best playing squad that the club has ever had.

“We’re a club on the up and people can see that. I’ve got more than a nucleus of a squad that can challenge at the top next season. There certainly won’t be any more than three joining the club in the off-season.”

Striker Danny Boyle has hit exquisite form during the campaign and his 23-goal contribution - the third highest in the division behind AFC Liverpool’s Ryan Cox (24) and Runcorn Linnets’ Freddie Potter (28) - has helped the club thrive on a domestic front.

With a Men United Cup quarter-final tie with Atherton Collieries scheduled for Valentine’s Day on home soil, Cunningham said: “Danny Boyle can’t stop scoring now. He’s on fire and he’s getting the man of the match award every week. Scoring 23 goals at this point of the season is a tremendous return.

“We’re proving that we are one of the best sides in the league. We’ve had a good look at the league this year and we know what we need to do next term. We want to challenge at the top so we need to lay down that marker.

“We want to finish in the top three or four this year. We’re certainly on target to do that and to do that in my first season of management would be a great achievement. We’re in a cup quarter-final as well. That would really show our intentions ahead of next year.”

And with exciting plans in the pipeline surrounding the restructure of the club, Cunningham added: “It would give us that belief that we are one of the best sides in the division. We’ve applied for ground grading as well for the Evo-Stik League and that shows our ambition.

“It really does send out the message that we want to progress the club. We want to make Colne FC the best it can possibly be. There’s some exciting plans in the pipeline.”

The Reds welcome Runcorn Town to Holt House tomorrow with kick-off scheduled for 3 p.m.