HOLSWORTHY manager Ryan Hall is targeting mid-table as the Magpies gear up up for their SWPL Premier West opener at Dobwalls on Saturday (3pm).
Hall is now in sole charge at Upcott Field following the decision of Lee Thomas to step down, and admits it’s been a busy summer.
They finished third bottom of the SWPL Premier East last season, but to realign the number of teams in each division, they have been transferred into the Premier West where they will take on Cornwall’s finest at Step Six.
However it’s not been an easy summer with four of last year’s squad leaving in the shape of defender Jeff Anglia, the versatile Jon Elvins, striker Chim Chinnah and winger Rhys Loosemore.
With right-back Kieran Langman and influential midfielder Jay Thomas set to miss the first four months with long-term injuries, it could be a tricky few months.
Hall told the Post: “Pre-season is always going to be difficult with losing four key members of the group from the move over to the West. This meant we had to be really efficient with our recruiting.
“Our geography really hurts us at times and going into the West was always going to be a challenge. “We had a list of targets we wanted to bring in and we have, bar a few, managed to bring these players in, which has been a real positive. They will be announced later this week.
“Other than that our pre-season has gone really well. We’ve worked hard with the players we have to really develop the style of play we want to see from the lads, and other than the Ilfracombe game, where we took the youngest squad I’ve ever been involved with, we have looked really good.
“Even Elburton Villa, where we lost the game, we controlled huge portions of the game and looked really good. Our achilles heel has been going forward, but our patterns of play have been really pleasing, although we do need to strengthen the depth in this area.”
Holsworthy’s big problem last year was scoring goals, they managed just 30 in 36 games, 12 less than the nearest team, bottom side Plymouth Marjon.
Hall knows they need to be better.
He said: “We have been working hard on our forward patterns of play, to be patient and move the ball in ways that can open teams up, as that was a major problem for us last season.
“We have also been working on a new formation, which really seems to suit the group and the players we have brought in.
“The players we have recruited are young, hungry and willing to prove a point at this level and I’m going to enjoy working with them this season.
“They’re eager to learn and this is the culture of the club. We want people that are here because they want to play at this level and they want to play for this football club.
“We have a great crop of youth players which will also feature heavily this season and the future of the club with be sustained for the next 15 years with a conveyor belt of talent coming through, which is why the third team and reserves are massively important for us.”
Hall spent plenty of time over the summer assessing who to be his assistant, and has chosen a familiar face.
He said: “Losing Lee is obviously a huge loss to us, but Richard Haydon has come in from Bodmin and has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to recruit as well as working within the group. Rich is no stranger to the club having been here as the physio, so was the perfect person to come in. He can hit the ground running and is fully familiar with the set up here at HAFC.
“Having spent time with Bodmin, Rich also has a good idea on the other sides, how they set up, so it gives us a fairly broad insight, which teams wont have on us.”
Holsworthy will spend plenty of time on the road like they did last season, but believes they should relish the opportunity.
He said: “Everyone is excited for the challenge to go into the West, new grounds, new clubs and new challenges, and for a lot of clubs we are an unknown entity.
“They don’t know how we play, they wont like coming to Upcott Field.
“We have been doing a lot of analysis on other sides, so we’re prepared.
“We wrongfully finished where we did last season and people will be looking at that thinking we will be a pushover, which I really like.
“I like being the underdog, we go into every game under no pressure, just enjoying being where we are and I think we’ll upset a few people along the way.”
However he isn’t getting carried away.
Hall said: “We have set an honest mid-table target, which i think is fair to be honest.
“You have to be realistic and with the players we have brought in along with the players we have had now for a little while, I’m pretty confident that’s where we will end up.
“We set little macro targets in four to six-week blocks, so we will constantly evaluate this.”
Dobwalls enjoyed a brilliant campaign last time out to finish seventh, that despite a modest budget, and Hall expects a tough game at Lantoom Park.
He said: “Dobwalls will be high energy.
“I watched their highlights against Bovey Tracey, so I can see areas in which they’re not very clever and areas in which they are.
“We have Jedd (Peschke) suspended carrying over from last season, which is frustrating, but I’m sure the side we take down there will be more than capable of getting a result.”
While a club is always judged primarily on what happens on the field, plenty has been going on behind the scenes.
Hall added: “We have done a lot of work at the club in the off-season, the biggest thing is having major control of our clubhouse, which we can hopefully use as a tool to develop both on-field and off-field offerings at HAFC.
“We have revamped the showers in both changing rooms, which was a huge undertaking and further improving our facilities for visitors.
“We have dug up a huge section of the pitch, which was causing us drainage issues. The pitch before the recent youth tournament was the best I have ever seen it, so credit to everyone on the committee, they really are invaluable members of the club and we are constantly looking to move forward.”