Football: Yate Town have bright future, says boss Rob Cousins

Gazette Series: Billy Fletcher (3100258) Billy Fletcher (3100258)

MANAGER Rob Cousins believes Yate Town can hit new heights in 2014.

Following a mass exodus of players in the summer, Cousins faced a major rebuilding job last summer, but has put together a young and exciting squad that have shown signs of improvement during the first half of the season, picking up fine wins at in-form Mangotsfield United and Southern League Division One South and West league leaders Cirencester Town in recent weeks.

While cautious not to play up their hopes of reaching the play-offs in the current campaign, Cousins is sure his side will be competing at the top of the table next season.

Cousins said: “What we’ve found with a young side is you do lack a bit of consistency.

“In the close season we were devastated with the players who left. It was hard work getting a team together that could compete and we’ve shown that we can.

“It is pleasing to see them grow and develop together. We’ve always said if we can keep these players, like we hope to, there’s no reason next year, if we can add again, why we can’t compete with the top two, top three. There’s a long way to go but we’re going in the right direction.

“If we turn up and we’re prepared to work we can compete at this level and we’ve got nothing to fear.”

A key reason for Yate’s resurgence has been the signing of defender Billy Fletcher, who has resumed a centre-back partnership with Joe Chandler that was successful at Cadbury Heath last season.

With Tom Seery facing an extended spell on the sidelines, Cousins swooped for Fletcher following their 5-0 defeat at home to North Leigh last month, which Chandler also missed, and the side has had a more solid look since.

Cousins said: “Missing Tom Seery was a big blow for us. It was important to get a defender in, who we’d been told about before.

“Joe and Brad (Abraham, Yate midfielder) spoke to him (Fletcher) because they played with him so it was great to get him in.

“It coincided with Joe coming back to fitness and a partnership that played well together at Cadbury Heath so it’s working well, but the full backs either side of them are doing their jobs well as well.

“We knew if we could get our players back we’d be a match for teams and we’ve proved that.”

Yate are looking for maximum points from their next two games against teams near the bottom of the table, with a trip to Bishop’s Cleeve on Boxing Day followed by a home game against Guildford City on Saturday (3pm).

Cousins said: “Those are two games we’re looking to get victories in but you can’t take anything for granted because everyone’s beating each other in this league.

“We’ll look after ourselves and results will come to us, but we’ll work hard for them.”

Connor Clifford should be fit to face Guildford. Former captain Edd Vahid and Ollie Barnes, who both left Yate in the summer, will return to Lodge Road with Clevedon Town on New Year’s Day (3pm).

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