Evo Stik League gets underway, featuring Stocksbridge Park Steels, Sheffield FC and Frickley Athletic
Stocksbridge Park Steels boss Chris Hilton can't wait for the season to start as Stamford provide the opposition for the opener at Bracken Moor, but says patience may be needed for his new look squad
“We’ve put in a lot of work during pre-season and are now ready and looking forward to the first game,” said Hilton.
“It will be a more youthful team with the changes we’ve made this season not as experienced as in the past, so I think the supporters will have to be a little patient with us as it can take time for the new players to settle in.”
Hilton has made a number of changes to his squad over the summer.
“We’ve had six players that have left over the summer. We knew that players would be leaving at the end of last season
"I felt we needed to ship a few players out and bring new players into the club to freshen things up.
"We were disappointed to lose Joe Lumsden but he was made an offer he couldn’t afford to turn down, these things happen and we wish everyone that has left all the best.”
Hilton, who signed a new contract in the summer to stay at Bracken Moor for a fifth season, has brought in Aaron Moxam to replace Lumsden along with, winger Tyler Williams, midfielders Kane Swinburn, Kurtis Turner and defender Brad Beatson, while Lewis Whitham steps up to the first team squad from the U18s
"I’m happy with what we’ve got although we ‘re still looking to maybe add a couple of players, said the Steels boss.
“We want to try and get into the play-offs again but it's not going to be easy there are some good teams with big budgets.”
Stocksbridge , Sheffield FC, and Frickley Athletic will compete in the Evo-Stik Division One East alongside the Division One West with 20 teams in each. It follows geographical changes made over the summer moving from the from the South and North of last season.
Sheffield FC start their campaign away at league newcomers Marske United who won the Northern League title last term.
Gavin Smith is the new man at the helm for Sheffield after being named Mark Shaw’s permanent successor early in the summer after caretaker boss Chris Dolby had steered the club to Division One survival
Smith has brought in midfielders Anthony Mackie and Sam Wright from Ossett Town and young goalkeeper Joe Turton from Teversal along with defender Jamie Kay.
The forward line has been strengthened too with the arrival of the experienced frontman Marc Newsham from Matlock Town and former Hallam hot-shot Mitch Dunne.
“I felt it was something we needed as we didn’t score enough goals last season,” said Smith.
“I feel we’ve now got more goals in us. Wade (Fairhurst) finished last season well so we’re hoping he will kick on and Jinky (James Gregory) and Andy Gascoigne can chip in with a few goals too.
“It will be a tough game at Marske, they will be on a high after being promoted but the first game is always tough as everyone wants to get off to a good start. We’ll go and do what we can do and hopefully come away with the three points. As a new manager, you always want to start with a win. What’s important Is that we’ve got a group of players that want to work for each other.”
Frickley Athletic also take on one of the Division’s newcomers when they go to Wishbech United.
Premier Division: Matlock Town v Lancaster City, Whitby Town v Buxton.
Division One East: Marske United v Sheffield FC, Stocksbridge Park Steels v Stamford, Wisbech Town v Frickley Athletic.