HELLENIC LEAGUE: Stevens confident he can save Shrivenham
6:00am Friday 4th January 2013 in By Andy Warren, Deputy sports editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, @AndyWarren_
NEW Shrivenham boss Mark Stevens is confident he can save the club from relegation as he prepares for a baptism of fire away at fourth-placed Binfield.
The Barrington Park stalwart’s association with the club goes back more than 30 years, but he takes the reins from recently departed boss Les Gill with the club rock bottom of the Hellenic Premier.
Stevens has spent a long spell working with the club’s reserve side, and while the 46-year-old accepts ensuring survival is a daunting task, he believes anything is possible.
“It is definitely going to be a tough ask, I know that, but I am looking forward to it,” he said.
“I am under no illusions at all about how big a job it is, but I wouldn’t have taken it on if it wasn’t something I thought I could be successful at.
“I have been with the club since I was 15 as a player I and have worked with the reserves for a while, but before it didn’t ever seem right to step up to be manager.
“We are in a difficult position at the bottom of the table, but we are not too far behind and there are a few teams who are close to us and there is a long way to go.
“The only goal is to keep the club up, and if I didn’t think I was capable of doing that I wouldn’t have taken on the job.”
Gill left Shrivvy after a humiliating 10-1 Boxing Day defeat to Highworth, and Stevens knows he faces a daunting opening game as his side travel to Binfield.
“It’s a bit of a baptism of fire really, because they are fourth in the league and flying high while we are at the bottom, but we will give it a good go,” he said.
“All of the games are going to be tough, we know that, but I have put down the way we want to play and we will go with that.
“Whether that is different to what the former managers here have done I don’t know, but it is going to be hard.”
Stevens has worked quickly to bring in a number of new faces since taking over as boss, including Chris Mills from Malmesbury and Tom Steptoe from Devizes, and could also give a number of young players a chance to step up from the reserve side.
“I have been working on bringing in a few players and have managed a few already, and there could be a few more on the way too,” he said.
“I will probably blood a few of the young players from the reserves too, and some will start the game, but the reserves have not been going all that well either this season and there are some of the players who are not ready.
“The whole place needs a lift, and I have organised a few training session because the boys haven’t really been training, and we just need some confidence.
“If we can get that there is no reason we can’t do well.”
Elsewhere in the division, Highworth travel to fifth-placed Ardley United as they look to bounce back from a 5-4 defeat to Marlow, and manager John Fisher believes his side can get something out the game.
“They are a good side and they go into the game as favourites, but with the group of players we have got together I am confident we can get something,” he said.
“Ardley play the same way as Marlow do, getting the ball quickly to the forwards and then supporting them, but we are going there to get something.”
Highworth’s only absentee is Martin Stratford, who serves the second game of his two-match ban.