John Flanagan on pre-season campaign “I’ve been pleased with it to some point”
Monday 24th July 2017 @ 13:06 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Curzon Ashton have confirmed the signing of Glossop North End striker Max Leonard for the 2017/18 season in the National League North.

Leonard became something of a fans favourite at Surrey Street last season, after becoming the club’s top scorer with 17 league goals.

At the end of season awards night, Leonard Scooped a number of accolades, including Managers Player, Players Player, Top Goalscorer and Supporters Player.

Following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town’s U23 squad, Leonard spoke of joining the club and said: “I’m delighted to join Curzon, it’s a good club with good ambition and facilities.

“We were unlucky not to draw today and I feel like I should have scored. I can’t wait for the season to get underway.”

Leonard joins a growing list of players to have joined Curzon over summer, including midfielder Paul Marshal, striker Scott Bakkor, defender Matt Regan, and defender Steve Howson.

Popular faces to have re-signed for the club include goalkeeper Cameron Mason – who looks set to take on a permanent first team role following Hakan Burton’s departure to Colne – defender Olly Thornley, midfielder Chris Rowney, winger Joe Guest and striker Niall Cummins.

Manager John Flanagan assembled the nucleus of his side early in the summer, and his proactive stance appears to have worked well for the Nash during the pre-season campaign.

Prior to Saturday’s defeat to Huddersfield at the Tameside Stadium, Curzon had embarked on a four game unbeaten run, which included a 2-1 victory over Stockport Town, a 1-1 draw at Mossley, a 1-0 victory at Colwny Bay, and a 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic.

Despite the loss on Saturday, Flanagan thought his side coped well defensively. He said: “It was quite difficult at times; they moved the ball quickly and for a young side they took very few touches.

“I thought we dealt with them defensively reasonably well, but I think in terms of keeping possession ourselves I thought we were lacking it at times.”

Flanagan, who led the Nash to the FA Cup second round last season, believes it’s difficult to retain a constant XI throughout pre-season: “We had changed the side around a little bit, and unfortunately you get a lack of coordination, and it’s just the circumstances of pre-season to make changes all the time” said Flanagan.

“I wasn’t expecting too much; there were bits and pieces that I thought we did well.

“We had chances to score that we didn’t take advantage of, and I think for all their possession they only had two clear chances, so once again, defensively, we’ve been pretty solid, so it’s going the other way that I’ve got to think about a little bit more.”

Striker Jordan Wright departed the pitch with a suspected knee injury in the 30th minute. Flanagan doesn’t believe the injury is anything too serious. He said: “I actually thought he’d twisted his knee when he went down but it turned out that the guy’s studs had clipped him, and there’s a bit of a gash there although I think he’ll be fine.”

Questioned on how he thinks pre-season is going so far, Flanagan said: “I’ve been pleased with it to some point.

“Defensively I think we’ve looked solid, we’ve played various levels of opponent and I think we’ve equipped ourselves reasonably well.

“Scoring goals is always the hardest thing to do, and we haven’t scored lots of goals and we haven’t conceded many. It’s given us confidence to build on what we have.

“I think we need a bit of tweaking here and there, but in pre-season you do change the team around quite a lot and you don’t get many patterns building up.

“I’m not one to get too excited when things do go well, but I know when we start playing for points that it becomes a different ball game altogether.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s trip to Evo-Stik Division One North side Trafford, Flanagan said he expects a tough game from Tom Baker’s side: “I think whenever you take anybody on from a lower level, they see it as a big game and a big challenge” said Flanagan.

“I think it’s very easy for our players to take their foot off the gas a little bit.

“I think Trafford have strengthened up, and I know Tom Baker quite well, and he’s been busy recruiting, so I have no doubt that they’ll be a challenge, and it will be a tough game.”