WITH the new Hellenic League Premier Division kicking-off tomorrow, Shrivenham’s player-manager Sam Collier has his sights set on survival.
A fantastic run of seven wins in 10 matches at the end of last season saw the Barrington Park side survive the drop in what was a campaign clouded by the tragic loss of Dave Turner.
And with Collier beginning to form his own ethos at Shrivvy, he is under no illusions over just how tough this season is going to be.
“It is no secret that we don’t pay our players and there is no point going on about it,” Collier said. “There are clubs that have been spending a bit and that will make it difficult for us.
“The aim, like every season, is to do better than the last. But we are realistic enough to know that it is going to be tough.
“We won seven of our last 10 games and to match that it is going to be incredibly difficult.
“Realistically, the aim is to stay up and finish outside that bottom four - once we have achieved that target, we can kick on and try and get into mid-table.”
Shrivenham’s bid for survival in the Premier Division has been boosted by the retention of hot-shot strikers Josh Fowler and Steve Robertson.
Between them, the pair bagged more than 60 goals last term, with Fowler netting 40 of them.
“Keeping Steve Robertson and Josh Fowler was massive,” Collier said. “Josh got 40 goals for us last season and Robbo got 20-odd.
“Josh is still learning and if we had lost those two, it would have been difficult for me to replace them without a budget.
“We have also managed to keep hold of players who were offered money to go elsewhere. Liam Edmondson and Matt Bown were both offered money, so for them to stick around shows that we are doing something right.”
As well as retaining the players from last term, Collier has also managed to bring in several new faces including Swindon Town youth keeper Aaron Moody on a three-month loan deal.
Sam Packer, Adam Corcoran, Mani Randhawa and John Rees have all committed themselves to Barrington Park, while Swindon Supermarine midfielder Gio Wrona has signed dual forms.
Aside from bidding to stay up, Collier is hopeful that they can enjoy a bit of run in the money-spinning FA Cup and FA Vase.
“The cups are going to be massively important for us,” he said. “If we win our FA Cup match, that is £1,500 and that is huge for us.
“But we could have been given a better draw though - we are away to Reading Town - that is going to be tough.
“We also have the FA Vase, and that is a competition we want to do well in as that is more money. We will be taking both those competitions seriously.
“In the other cups, we will look to use the fringe players and try and get them some experience.”