When Jason Rees was appointed manager of Thornbury Town FC 18 months ago, helping the club into a higher division was always the aim.

But promotion at this level of football, Thornbury play in Hellenic League Division One West in what is step six of non-league, is never simple.

As well as results on the pitch, new ground regulations must be met to be eligible to move up a league. While the club looks to have those things in hand, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed more barriers in the way.

Last season the club were in 7th, just three points behind the promotion spots with numerous games in hand, when the league was null and voided.

This year they are 2nd in the table but have not played a league game in more than a month as a result of the second lockdown.

"It's just so disappointing," said Jason.

"It matters a huge amount to the players, committee and staff.

"We realise how important football is for everyone's mental wellbeing.

"It's really difficult to get any momentum going. We have got a really strong squad and are in a good position. We are playing well.

Before the second lockdown Thornbury had produced a number of impressive results, most notably a 2-0 win over title favourites Malvern Town.

"Malvern are the team to beat.

"They are a fantastic outfit. They are more like a semi-professional team.

"Anybody who finishes above Malvern will probably win the league.

"It was a real confidence boost. That set us up for the season really," said Jason.

More recently however, the club has had to rely on technology to even be able to train.

"We have been carrying out training through Strava. We have had a couple of Zoom calls to keep in contact with everyone.

"Training has been very disruptive. We have definitely suffered injuries because of the lack of training," said Jason.

While the league will resume later this month for the majority of teams, Thornbury face a further wait after clubs from a Tier 3 area were prevented from playing fixtures against anyone in a different area.

With the majority of clubs in the league hailing from Tier 2 areas Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, this leaves Thornbury only able to play against near neighbours Tytherington Rocks.

According to Jason neither side are keen on playing such a big game behind closed doors and having not trained properly for six weeks.

"It's a local derby. We want supporters in for that game."

"We are a community club. The club needs to get supporters back in.

"We are going to be playing catch up. Having said that, it is what it is and we have got to be prepared to take these challenges on."

The financial impact of the pandemic has been keenly felt. Earlier this year the club launched a fundraising appeal after estimating they faced a £10,000 shortfall this year.

Despite all the challenges faced this year, Jason still has eyes on taking his team to a higher level when their season can resume.

"I think we have proved we are contenders for promotion. When Gary [Kemp] and I came in that was what we said we were going to do. That's still our aim.

"The club have worked really hard to give ourselves the best chance of playing. The squad are raring to go.

"Most of the committee are in the vulnerable bracket so we have to put it in perspective.

"We need to act sensibly regardless of us wanting to play football."