Safety is the goal and I am 100% confident that we can build a squad that is capable of doing that, says Ashford United's coach Paul Barnes

Friday 24th November 2017

ASHFORD UNITED coach Paul Barnes believes the club can get out of relegation trouble.

The club were promoted to the Bostik South after winning the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title under Danny Lye in April but Lye was only in charge of two games at the start of the season and Jason Whitworth has experienced a baptism of fire at the higher level.

Ashford United are second from bottom in the table, having won only a couple and drawn three of their 20 games.

Only one club will be relegated from the division at the end of the season and Shoreham, who were deducted six points, look favourites to spend one season at this level, as they have picked up only two points from their 18 league outings.

Ashford United, meanwhile, have suffered five defeats on the spin and extended their winless run to 13 games.

“Since my arrival at the club, I have seen the players compete and work hard in all fixtures but mistakes, naivety and a lack of quality has cost us at crucial times in those fixtures, through individual errors, a lack of game management or poor decision making,” said Barnes.

“Safety is the goal and I am 100% confident that we can build a squad that is capable of doing that.

“It will take hard work, commitment and a lot of coaching to turn things around, but we are already laying the foundations that will help us achieve our target.”

Ashford United’s trip to Cray Wanderers tomorrow has been postponed owing to Tony Russell’s side travelling to Vanarama National League South side Braintree Town in The FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round tomorrow.

Ashford are next in action on Saturday 2nd December, when they host eleventh-placed Thamesmead Town, before travelling to leaders Lewes (9 December), before hosting Horsham (16 December) and travelling to Crayford to play VCD Athletic seven days later.

“The next set of fixtures sees us with two home and two away games against teams who are all looking to pick up points for their own purposes and we will need to make sure we are prepared and ready for each one individually,” said Barnes.

“Every game in this division brings the opportunity to pick up points as you have seen, with form guides going out the window and some shock results already transpiring.  We hope to add to that list and will be doing all we can to make that happen.”

Ashford United have snapped up goalkeeper Michael McEntegart, who played for Welling United in the top-flight of non-league football.

“Myself, Jason and the club are working tirelessly to bring in the right profile to the club. We believe that over the next fortnight we can bring in the right mix of players to help achieve our target,” said Barnes.

“Yesterday saw us announce the signing of Mike McEntegart, someone who I have worked with previously and played a huge part in our survival when I was involved at Welling United in the Conference.

“I am sure everyone at the club and who was involved will never forget his performance at home to Wrexham when we needed to pick up points.

“I know Macca will bring that same level of performance and experience to our group and from a development point of view will help Aaron Lee-Wharton who has been playing beyond his years for the club in tough times and give him the support and guidance the club wants to provide for our young aspiring players.

“As I have said on many occasions already, I truly believe that Ashford United has the potential to not only survive in this League but to aim higher.

“Once we get the short term goals achieved, looking ahead to the mid-term and long-term goals really excite me.

“This club has an amazing fan base, people behind the scenes and structure that once we get organised and shake off the tag of being perceived as an opportunity for players to land a very good pay day, we will go from strength-to-strength.

“We want to be perceived as a club that will provide a platform for players to develop and grow as people and footballers, in an environment that blends the needs of the modern day player along with the support of modern day life, as we have seen become prominent, psychological issues that hinder players’ development or growth are often overlooked or even the physical needs of players that are now athletes, who need to be catered for individually and managed.

“These are small aspects and details that we will be building our future on, along with the brilliant youth system and community engagement opportunities Ashford United provides, the future is exciting and very bright.”

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