Chris Waldron hopes tough tests pay off for Ludlow FC
Joint-boss Chris Waldron hopes Ludlow’s demanding pre-season schedule will pay dividends as the league action kicks off tomorrow.
Waldron purposely selected a difficult run of friendlies against higher-ranked opposition to ensure his charges were fully prepared for the all-Shropshire clash against Telford Juniors.
He hopes to improve on last season’s sixth-placed finish in West Midlands Regional League Division Two and they face a stern test at home on the opening day as relegated Division One side Juniors visit the Ludlow Stadium.
They faced Knighton Town, Newent Town, Hereford and Pegasus Juniors during a testing pre-season warm-up schedule.
“We arranged games against teams higher ranked than us in the pyramid to try to get them prepared as best we can,” said Waldron, who is entering his second season as joint manager.
“Once we play teams at our own level we will have that work ethic installed and ready from the off.
“We weren’t really bothered about the results. There is no point playing teams below us and rolling them over, then you don’t learn anything.”
Waldron was pleased with his side’s 5-0 victory over Knighton last weekend, but was not impressed with a 5-0 reverse to Pegasus, where he claimed his side did not turn up.
Ludlow caught the eye in a competitive first half against National League North Hereford, who play six divisions above them, trailing 1-0 at the break before tiring to lose 5-0.
“We want to be moving forward so our target is to beat sixth,” added Waldron, who was initially assistant to Luke Hicks when Ludlow were formed in 2017.
“It’s a tough league this year with Newport and Telford coming down from the league above.
“We would love to mount a challenge to win promotion, that’s the idea, but whether that’s this year you never know because you don’t know the other sides involved.
“I’m expecting Telford to be tough. It’s a hard first game but it’s what we’re in it for.”
There has been no overhaul at the Ludlow Stadium this summer, with Waldron adding just five or six new faces to his squad in forward areas, at centre-half and right-back.
He is most anticipating the arrival of midfielder Zac Williams to boost his side’s fortunes. Williams is entering his first season in senior football and has impressed the management during the summer’s friendlies.
Midfielder Kieron Dovey and striker Jack Marston have left to join Shawbury United. The top two teams from the 10-strong division win promotion to Division One.
Newport Town kick off the new season at Walsall Town Swifts after a summer of change at the club.
Town – who are back at Shuker Field after a season at Eccleshall FC – are running one team after winding the reserves up and amalgamating the players with the first team.
Richard Priest was confirmed as joint-manager along with Nigel Senior, who was in charge of the reserve team.
Assisting Priest and Senior on the coaching side will be Gary Brown and Steve Ward, and they will also be helping out on matchdays.
And by ground-sharing with Newport Nova the league decided to demote Town due to ‘ground grading.’
They rounded off their pre-season with a 3-2 defeat against Hodnet with Priest having to reduce his squad to 22 players.
“Pre-season was different as we had so many new faces to look at,” said Priest.
“It was like starting again so the friendlies we had were more like trial games for many players.
“It was interesting from the point of having 35 players turn up and then the challenge of bringing the squad down to around 22 players which we have now.
“We have 22 lads now who are good enough to make the starting 11 so the management have a tough task to name the 16 for Saturday.”
And Priest added that expectations are high around the club as they look to get back up to Division One as soon as possible.
“The ambition for the season is to win as many games as possible,” added Priest.
“We have good players – and if they gel I would expect us to challenge on all fronts.
“I don’t really know what the standard will be like in this division, but if we are on top of our game every week I’d expect us to be very hard to beat.”
AFC Bridgnorth Development begin their season away to Coven Athletic.