Tough season expected but Harpenden Town ready to upset the form book again

Harpenden Town produced a fine performance in the 2-1 pre-season loss to St Albans City.

Harpenden Town produced a fine performance in the 2-1 pre-season loss to St Albans City. - Credit: TOBY HOWE

Harpenden Town manager Micky Nathan is fully aware of how tough the new Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division season is going to be - but he is more than convinced his side can rise to the challenge.

Clubs elsewhere have been busy assembling strong squads, with Leighton Town for example recruiting the likes of Ben Spaul from Welwyn Garden City and a number of Berkhamsted players.

But Harpenden, who finished fifth last time out, have always enjoyed their role as the unfashionable underdog and with most of their squad retained, plus a number of new faces like ex-Colney Heath and London Colney man Micky Shuttlewood, the boss is all set for more of the same.

He said: "We’re in no doubt that this season is going to be a lot tougher with the teams that have come in to the league, whether they have come up or gone down. 

"Take Stotfold, they will be dark horses with what [Brett Donnelly] is doing over there, then you’ve got Dunstable Town, they finished the season strongly, Leighton of course, and Risborough who were in my opinion the best team we played last year. 

"Every team seems to have improved and that’s exactly what we’ve got to do. 

"We’ve got to keep up with the others and keep our momentum going. 

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"It’s been a really productive close season. The management team have been speaking on a daily basis and to players we’ve identified that might come in and help us. 

"The way we play, I think we just needed a little bit more grit from last season in the middle of the park and at the back. 

"The average age of our squad is 21 or 22 but we’ve kept the core, kept the nucleus, which is fantastic. 

"Other clubs were sniffing around but they have decided to stay and with more young blood, that will help us move up the table."

Harpenden welcomed St Albans City to Rothamsted Park for their first home pre-season game and their performance in the 2-1 defeat, Jake Tabor getting the home goal, brought praise from the City boss.

Nathan too was chuffed with his side's efforts.

He said: "When you play a team three levels above you, you have to apply yourselves in the right way. 

"We knew it would be a tough test whether they trialists or U23s but when we saw the starting line-up, we though they were taking it seriously. 

"I can’t fault any of my lads and I had 16 and 17-year-olds playing. They were immaculate."