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Duki Town boss Cooper targets top six finish
Wednesday 8th August 2018 @ 14:07 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

The Manchester Premier League makes a much-awaited return this weekend – and Dukinfield Town boss Phill Cooper has targeted a top six finish.

Having joined the club towards the end of last season, Cooper helped then manager Adam Ridings to a 10th place finish, but with his own squad now in place and new season approaching, Town have the foundations to make their mark in step seven of the non-league pyramid – starting on Saturday with a home clash against Walshaw Sports.

Looking ahead to the forthcoming campaign, Cooper said he’s excited to make his mark but knows how tough the league will be – especially with the likes of East Manchester, who finished third last season and reached the final of the Manchester Challenge Trophy, very much looking for promotion this term. Speaking to Reporter Sport, he said: “I’m quite happy with the start we’ve been given, although we are missing a few lads because of holidays and other matters, but with the lads that are available I believe we have a good chance of kicking on and making a promising start. It’ll be a tough game, there’s no doubt about that, but I’m really happy to be at home during the first game of the season.”

You’ll rarely hear Brits complaining when it’s cracking the flags in summer, but the beautiful weather has come at a price over the past few weeks. An exciting pre-season schedule, which included a pay-on-the-gate fixture against Evo-Stik Premier outfit Buxton, was postponed due to unsafe playing conditions, which left the club out of pocket. As disappointing as the cancellation was, Cooper has taken positives from the other friendlies which his side have played in. “It’s been a bit up and down really” he said. “We were meant to have the game against Buxton, but that was called off due to the pitch being unfit. There’s been a bit of change each week because of teams letting us down and things like that, but that said we’ve had three good games against Wythenshawe Town, Abbey Hey and Chadderton, so it’s been good but bad in the same breath as well.”

An influx of new faces over summer has given Cooper some much-needed optimism before the opener on Saturday. Cooper has hailed the signings of three players in particular, who he believes have the ingredients to push his side to the top end of the table this season. “The main players we have brought in include Daz Green, who was at East Manchester last year and he’s a good mate who will bring a lot of experience to the side” he said. “Mike O’Connor has been around the block with Curzon Ashton and Abbey Hey, and again he’ll bring that experience which will be vital in the Manchester Premier League. We’ve also signed a lad called Matty Johnson, who came down during pre-season, and he’ll be a great asset for us.”

The club’s most recent signing is Liam McDowell, who joined on Tuesday night and lists Cheadle Town and East Manchester as his previous clubs. Cooper will also be boosted this season by a burgeoning youth set-up, which will provide him with additional resources if his squad is stretched. Commenting on the Development Squad trial, which was held in June, Cooper said: “It did take place and perhaps didn’t go as well as I would have liked it to, but the squad in general is progressing and we do have a few lads that are signed on now. It’s also a few weeks away until their season starts, so we have enough time to bring in a few more faces and build on what we have. Hopefully, as the season progresses, more lads will come on board and help us kick on.”

While the focus has been on the squad over summer, there has also been a change in the management structure. Brian Entwistle, who was acting as Cooper’s right hand man, has left the club and been replaced by John Phelan, an FA qualified coach.

The pair will take charge of their first league game this weekend against Walshaw at home, followed by another home tie the following Tuesday against Bolton County, who will be competing at this level for a second successive season.

In other news, the club is holding a fundraising event next month. A night with Dennis Irwin is being held at the Premier Suite, Audenshaw, on September 21. For further details on the event, or if you want to sponsor the club, contact Duki on twitter: @DukiTownFC

Alternatively, you can contact Mark Philip on the following: [email protected]

Pictured: Daz Green