Football: Slimbridge manager Leon Sterling targets climb up the table

Slimbridge manager Leon Sterling

Slimbridge manager Leon Sterling

First published in Sport Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor covering the Thornbury, Dursley and Yate areas

LEON STERLING insists Slimbridge are looking up the Western League Premier Division table rather than down.

The Swans have recovered from a poor start to the season, where they lost nine of their first 11 games, but are still in the bottom six, five points above the relegation zone with two teams going down.

It is Slimbridge’s first season in the Western League after they transferred from the Hellenic League, where they finished in the top six three seasons in a row, and boss Sterling admits it took a while for his side to adjust.

“I think we did struggle to adapt to the league,” he said.

“Because it is more localised you get more rivalry. We were surprised by that.

“In regards to the Hellenic it’s a slightly better standard. Teams from the bottom of the Hellenic couldn’t pick up points against the top teams, but in the Western League anyone can beat anyone.

“The first ten games was a transitional period but the next ten games or so we were harder to beat and we’ve only lost three in the last ten.

“I’d like to think that we’re capable of pushing in to mid-table rather than looking down.”

After going over one month without playing due to the wet weather, Slimbridge finally returned to action when they lost 1-0 at Bradford Town in the Les Phillips Cup on Saturday, but are yet to play at home in 2014 after their league game against Larkhall Athletic on Tuesday night was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

They coped with the enforced break by training at the new Inside Football Centre in Brimscombe and playing friendlies against Brimscombe and Thrupp and Tuffley Rovers on the 3G pitch.

Although they are facing a huge backlog of fixtures, Sterling is confident his side will cope if the season is not extended.

He said: “History suggests it won’t be extended so we’re just geared up and ready for the fixtures coming.

“The lads should be itching to play and if it goes to three games in a week we should be able to cope.”

Slimbridge handed long-awaited debuts to former Bishop’s Cleeve defender Alex Hoyle and Hartpury College pupil Matt Thornton against Bradford on Saturday.

Sterling made the ”two good additions” after long-serving defender Will Wellon, who was part of the club’s rise from the Northern Senior League to the Hellenic Premier League, joined Southern League outfit Evesham United last month.

Sterling said: “He was with us for a long time and deserves to play at a higher level. We won’t stand in any player’s way.”

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