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Reape has high hopes of best finish as Silsden kick off season
12:20am Friday 3rd August 2012 in Sport
Silsden kick off their campaign at AFC Liverpool on Saturday, with manager Chris Reape optimistic his team can produce their highest-ever finish in the North West Counties League Premier Division.
Reape (pictured) was encouraged by last season’s 12th-placed finish and, having kept most of the squad on, the Cobbydalers chief is hoping his side can surpass their best final placing of ninth in 2008-09.
He said: “We are starting the season in a much better position than last season, when we were still trying to get a settled side.
“We have retained most of the playing squad with the exception of goalkeeper James Mann.
“Christian Paul-at-Brigg did particularly well at Clitheroe and has the opportunity to make the No 1 position his own.
“We have added a few players to the squad and hope that striker Kevin Ryan can have an injury-free season.
“Also there is always a possibilty of more youngsters in the club making their mark in the first team, just as Matthew Moses and Joe Gaughan did last season.”
Gaughan was Silsden’s only injury worry before last night’s final warm-up game at Liversedge.
After drawing with Knaresborough Town, the Cobbydalers have enjoyed friendly victories over Pontefract Collieries (3-2) and Oxenhope (5-1) before drawing 0-0 at Evo-Stik League side Clitheroe last Saturday.
Assistant-manager Danny Bolton said: “So far, Chris and I have been more than happy with the lads’ commitment, application and quality in pre-season games.
“We have, as you would expect, got progressively better in each game. The team spirit is excellent and Chris, myself and the squad hope to entertain the supporters in the forthcoming season.
“It’s one game at a time but we approach the new season with considerable optimism.”
The first home game is next Wednesday (7.45pm) at the newly-named Angel Telecom Stadium against Bacup Borough.
Silsden reserves also kick off their campaign on Saturday as they entertain New Mills reserves.
Manager Ryan Haigh has retained most of the youngsters from last season and added one or two players, including John Beckwith, who scored the only goal in the pre-season win at Thackley.
A young Silsden outfit lost 1-0 to Barrowford Celtic last Saturday.
Haigh said: “We were without nine regulars, many of whom play cricket, and as a result might struggle for the first month of the season.
“Last campaign, it took a while for the youngsters to come to terms with the demands of senior football but, after Christmas, the lads made a big impression, rising to a creditable mid-table finish.
“We netted some top scalps on the way and only lost in extra-time in the League Cup final.”
Saturday’s game will be a testing opener as New Mills’ first team play in the Evo-Stik League.
Assistant-manager Danny Thorpe added: “With a year’s experience behind them, I hope the team will bring home some silverware and do it with some attractive football.”