MARK Grimley is pleased with the way Uttoxeter Town’s pre-season is progressing after a defeat and a draw from their first two friendlies of the summer.
The Town side lost 4-3 to Norton United in their opening test last week, before fighting back from 3-1 down to claim a 3-3 draw against South Normanton on Saturday.
But it is the performances rather than results which Grimley is looking out for.
“We don’t pay too much attention – anyone who does is a fool,” said the manager,
“It’s given us a chance to assess the lads fitness-wise and we’ve played some really good stuff, high-tempo, particularly in the first half against Norton, when we were in complete control.
“We just had a bad ten-minute spell (when they conceded three late goals to throw away a 3-1 lead).
“That’s what pre-season’s about – it’s given us the chance to look at players in different positions, and we get more out of them out of the players in those 90 minutes than in all our training.”
Against South Normanton, Uttoxeter fell behind after being caught in possession, but Jon Lamburn equalised by chipping the goalkeeper after a nice team move.
They conceded a deflected free-kick before the break and again straight after it, but strikes from John Littlar and Liam Sowter earned a deserved draw.
And Grimley is pleased with the strength in depth of his side, so much so that he does not envisage making any more signings unless someone special comes up.
“We finished with some really strong performances, especially from lads who didn’t play Wednesday,” he said.
“The competition for places is absolutely excellent – every player is stepping up to the mark.
“It’s going to be very difficult to pick a team but we’d rather have that.
“They are all staking a claim at the moment and there’ll be some disappointed players come August 2.”
Uttoxeter have 20 players in their squad as it stands, plus a burgeoning youth and reserve team set-up on which to draw, and Grimley says all the players will be needed in what will be a long season.
“This’ll be the most games we’ll ever have played, so we’ll need a squad, especially away when it might be a bit tougher,” he said.
“A couple may drop off the radar if they’re not playing, but we hope players will stick around and fight for their places.”
On Saturday, Uttoxeter travel to Stone Old Alleynians and Stapenhill on Tuesday ahead of next Saturday’s Midlands Football League season opener.