YATE Town boss Rob Cousins is hoping to enjoy a nice quiet summer.
A mass exodus at the end of the 2012/13 season meant that Cousins did not have much of a break last year and he spent much of his holiday on the phone as he had to rebuild the side virtually from scratch.
However, he is hopeful that most of the squad will return to pre-season training at the end of June to prepare for their first friendly of the season on Friday, July 11 against League One side Swindon Town, who are expected to take their first team to Lodge Road. The club are also close to tying up a friendly with Bristol City under-21s later that month.
After flirting with the play-offs for much of the campaign, Yate finished a respectable ninth in Southern League Division One South and West – three places lower than the previous season but just one point worse off – and Cousins already has targets in mind to help them mount a more sustained challenge next season.
“We want to build on the squad, not lose it like last year,” he said.
“We want to work on those players on pre-season and work on shape, patterns, formations and set pieces from the very first session, not like last season when we were just getting a team together.
“They’ve earned the right to be there next year. If you look at the spine of our team, Martin Horsell, Joe Chandler, Bradley Abraham and Lewis Haldane have had outstanding seasons and Tom Seery was our best player until he was injured.
“For some it was the highest standard they’ve played at so it was a learning curve and we surprised people along the way.
“We had doubters saying we would struggle, not just from outside the club, so we proved people wrong and competed with the best.
“Unfortunately we weren’t consistent enough, especially against teams in the lower half of the league and that cost us.
“We’ve got a young squad and we just run out of steam with injuries and suspensions at crucial times.
“Anyone who sees us play sees a great team spirit and attitude, with players working for the team and the shirt they’re wearing.”
Cousins admitted Yate could face a tough task holding onto former Bristol Rovers striker Haldane, who scored 35 goals in all competitions last season.
“I’m sure there are going to be other clubs interested. We would like him to be here and we are pleased with his goal ratio,” said Cousins.
“He says he enjoys it at Yate and the team atmosphere, we’ve just got to convince him that we are still part of his plans.”
Yate had to watch Cirencester celebrate on their pitch after securing the title with a 3-1 win at Lodge Road on the last day of the season and Cousins hopes that can act as a motivation for his side.
He said: “We had a good 45-minute chat after the game and reflected on the season and the match.
“I said ‘hopefully that hurt but at the same time inspired you to be in that position next year, either clinching promotion or a play-off position.’”
Bradley Abraham was named Supporters’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year at Yate’s awards evening last week.