Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Promotion, that's the aim - AFC Emley boss Darren Hepworth

AFC Emley boss Darren Hepworth
By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Promotion is the name of the game for Toolstation Northern Counties East League Division One side AFC Emley, according to manager Darren Hepworth.
Hepworth has been in charge at the Welfare Ground for nearly three years and led the club to seventh last season and also masterminded a run to the last 32 of the FA Vase.
Emley start their campaign at Yorkshire Amateur on Saturday and Hepworth hopes his team can take the next step on his plan.
“The aspirations are most definitely promotion and I’ve stated that is the primary aim for us, but at the very least is a top four finish,” he said.
“We certainly want a run in the FA Cup and Vase. That’s a financial aspect and obviously those runs get a good buzz in the club. But promotion is the key.
“In the season before last you probably would have said eighth, which was the highest we had ever finished, was probably just desserts. Last season for the way we played, a top four finish was certainly within our reach.
“But, the league does not lie and in the end those six-pointers proved costly and we ended up finishing seventh which was our highest league finish. We want to go better than that this year.”
Hepworth has taken one huge blow during the summer as he lost last season’s 42-goal top goalscorer Ashley Flynn to Division One title favourites Shaw Lane Aquaforce.
Whilst disappointed to see the striker leave, Hepworth believes Emley can cope and admits his main worry is the defence.
He said: “Clearly 42 of out of the 111 we scored in the league is a big hit for us. That said, we do have goals in the team. I’ve signed Brighton Mugadza (Bay Athletic) and Mark Crossfield, who I have brought from Penistone Church.
“We have signed Alex Hallam from Harrogate Railway and once Alex gets fits, that is three strikers straightaway. I’m not concerned that we’ll get the goals, my principal concern is making sure we shore up at the back.
“It wasn’t a problem in terms of the number of goals we conceded last season, it was in the key games, the six-pointers. We came out of them the wrong side too many times and we showed naivety and a lack of experience at times and that’s where we have got to turn it around. And if we can turn those games into wins, that will be the difference.”
Ex Emley striker Ash Flynn (left)
Only two teams are promoted out of Division One, which, as Hepworth admits, makes the league difficult to succeed in.
Emley also do not have the resources to compete financially with a number of teams and that is why Hepworth’s focus is on a carefully considered plan to build a successful club.
“We’re are successfully building the club and if you look at the likes of John Cyrus and Ash Flynn who have gone on to other clubs, frustratingly to my point of view to clubs who will be competing against us,” he said.
“I’d have rather seen them go onto play at a higher level which they are more than capable of doing.
“But, the reality is that there are deeper pockets and that is makes that league hard to get out of.
“It is very tough because you have the Premier sides coming down and they are keen as mustard to get themselves back up. Then you have the teams who have been promoted into the division and there is the inevitable honeymoon period that they have.
“Teams coming up are used to winning because they have won their respective leagues and in the case of teams like Shaw Lane Aquaforce and sides like Scarborough and Athersley and Staveley, they’ve had good financial backing.
“Credit to them because they have utilised that, but that is what you have to compete with and we know that. That is why our strategy is having a structure through the under 19s to the Development Squad to grow local talent.”

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