Banim provides thoughts after 3-2 loss at Abbey Hey
Monday 10th July 2017 @ 15:29 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Ashton United began their pre-season campaign with a 3-2 defeat at Abbey Hey on Saturday.

Josh Stachini gave Ashton the lead in the 16th minute with a left footed striker from outside the box, but the hosts drew matters level six minutes later.

Luke Gibson’s side took a 2-1 lead in the 52nd minute but were pegged back 20 minutes later.

However, it took less than five minutes for Abbey Hey to reassert their lead which they held onto for victory.

Following the loss, manager Jody Banim said it wasn’t the greatest performance but did admit that results aren’t the primary concern at the moment.

Speaking to Ashton United TV, Banim said: “It wasn’t the greatest performance – I think that was self-evident – but we’re not really looking for results at this stage of the season, it’s more about performances and the performance wasn’t up to scratch today.”

The Robins fielded a team which included a mix of first team regulars and a number of triallists.

Of the new faces, Banim said he though they did ok. He added: “I think there were six or seven players that hadn’t played together before today, so it was to be expected really.

“It’s the first game back of pre-season, and we’ve only had three training sessions so people are getting used to each other, but I thought they did ok.”

Having made an appearance during the clash, will Banim be playing regularly next season? “Hopefully not, no” he said.
“I’ll be used as and when really. We were a little bit short today, as we had six or seven players missing, but they’ll be back in the squad within the next week or so.”

Following a mid-table finish in the Evo-Stik Premier Division last season, Banim has retained the nucleus of his squad while also adding some fresh faces.

Players to have joined the squad for the forthcoming season include defender Tom Eckersley.

Defender Tom Eckersley has joined the club, having previously played for Stockport County and FC United amongst others.

The 25-year-old featured in Saturday’s defeat and offered his thoughts following the game. “obviously the performance of the team could have been a lot better, but overall it’s about gaining fitness and getting to know everyone.

“Personally I felt a bit off the pace, but first game of the season, being out of football for a few months, I was pleased with it overall.”

Questioned if he’s happy to be at Ashton, Eckersley said: “Yeah, definitely, I’ve settled in well.

“We’ve had a few sessions now on the training pitch, and the lads are great.”

A former Stockport County and FC United player, Eckerlsey is aiming for promotion next season.

Questioned on his ambitions for the forthcoming campaign, he said: “We’ve got to go for promotion, ideally automatically by winning the league, but playoffs would be a plus for the club.”

Banim echoed these sentiments, declaring the playoffs are a minimum requirement. “We’re very ambitious, we’ve got a realistic board and realistic supporters, but from inside the dressing room we want to push on from last season” he said.

“We finished quite strongly and we have the nucleus of that squad as well, so if we can add the last two pieces of the jigsaw then I think we’ll do alright.”

Despite boasting a prolific strike partnership of Matty Chadwick and Ryan Crowther, who collectively scored more than 30 goals last season, as well as a dominant midfield of John Roberts and former Curzon Ashton favourite Liam Tomsett, Banim said he isn’t completely happy with the current squad.

The 39-year-old is hoping to fill a void in two positions, but his task is being made increasingly difficult by big spending clubs.

Nevertheless, Banim is optimistic of concluding his team before the season begins in August. He said: “We’re quite active in the market at this moment in time, and we’ve been speaking to players but unfortunately there are a lot of clubs spending decent money this summer – a lot more money than we are – so we’re all after the same players and we’re getting outbid a little bit.

“It’s still early, we’re one week into pre-season, and players will become available that are perhaps not catching at other clubs that we can take advantage of.”

Pictures: Ashton United TV, Youtube