Longridge Town’s test of man management skills

Lee Ashcroft will have to cope without the suspended Jordan Tucker
Lee Ashcroft will have to cope without the suspended Jordan Tucker

Longridge Town Lee Ashcroft admits it has been a battle to keep his players’ spirits up as they hope for a return to competitive football this weekend.

A waterlogged pitch at the Mike Riding Ground meant last Saturday’s scheduled match against Hesketh Bank was postponed.

It means the defending West Lancashire League Premier Division champions have only played two league games in eight weeks, leaving them with the proverbial fixture backlog.

It also meant that, as the Longridge News went to press on Tuesday evening, Town were playing a 90-minute friendly at Longridge High School against East Lancashire League side Rimington.

“I’m trying to keep the lads happy but they are just as frustrated as me,” Ashcroft admitted.

“Everyone else in the division is picking up points and the lads, understandably, get disillusioned that they aren’t playing games as well.

“Even when it comes to training, it costs us £90 a week for an hour on Wednesday so, even though I’d love to train them two or three times a week, we just can’t afford it.”

Town are scheduled to return to league action against Turton on Saturday.

Even then, that brings its share of headaches for the Town manager with defenders George Melling and Jordan Tucker suspended following their red cards in the defeat at Coppull United.

That said, bringing someone in to fill those gaps is much easier said than done.

“I can’t bring in players unless we’re going to play games,” Ashcroft said.

“If you look at it from a player’s perspective, why should they leave their club to sign for us if they aren’t sure that they’re going to be playing games?”