Bridgnorth eye mid-season rebuild in fight against the drop

AFC Bridgnorth manager Pete Whitehouse is prepared to accept some short-term pain for long-term gain, writes Nick Elwell.

Whitehouse has decided to revamp his squad as he bids to climb the West Midlands League Premier Division table and bring an end to some availability issues.

The Crown Meadow boss is keen to put together a fully-committed playing staff after being left short-handed for their recent FA Vase defeat at Walsall Wood.

“I think the squad needs to be rebuilt and the chairman agrees,” said Whitehouse. “We have got a few good players who are not totally reliable at the minute and we are going to change things.

“Because of Covid, some of the lads who live in Tier 2 areas didn’t want to travel to a Tier 3 area when we played at Walsall Wood.

“I didn’t find out until a couple of hours before the game and it was too late to register anyone else then.

“We have got a good core of players who will be there every week, it’s just adding to that rather than relying on people who come once every three or four weeks.

“As a coach you want 16-18 players there week in, week out so you can start implementing things.

“As I said to the chairman, it’s better to prepare for a bit of short-term pain for some long-term gain.

“I am looking to bring in a mix of players. All you need is a strong spine and then you can add some younger players and grafters around the spine, and that’s what I think we need to do.

“We have had a couple of players who have joined us for training recently and I am looking to bring in four or five.”

Whitehouse is hoping to have some new recruits on board for what promises to be a tough festive schedule with Shawbury checking in at the Crown Meadow on Boxing day and Shifnal Town following the week after.

Bridgnorth have won once in seven league games during a tough run of fixtures and Whitehouse admits he fears their position in the table could be an issue if the season is halted by any further lockdowns.

“A lot of people think there is going to be another lockdown after Christmas,” added Whitehouse. “My worry is if the season is declared null and void and the league go down the points-per-game route.

“We have played most of the top six already and have Shawbury and Shifnal to come again in the next two weeks.

“If season is curtailed after Christmas, I don’t think it would be fair if it went down the points-per-game route because we haven’t had the chance to play many of the sides in the lower half of the table.”

Bridgnorth will be looking for a spot of revenge on Boxing Day having lost 5-1 to Shropshire rivals Shawbury in what proved to be Graham Ward’s last game in charge in October.

Shawbury have started the season well and sit fourth in the standings.

“They are a decent outfit with a decent management team,” said Whitehouse. “It will be a tough game for us as will the game with Shifnal.”

“If there is another lockdown then it depends on how long that goes on for.

We have only played seven league games.

“With the team that we had out, the lads did well.

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