They may only be in their second week in the job, but Cornard United’s new management duo are confident they have already assembled a squad capable of achieving their mid-table target.
The equivalent of a whole new team have already been signed up in a bid to lift The Ards off the foot of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division table.
And Ryan Lines, 27, and Liam Aves, 31, — one of the youngest senior management duos in the country — have said they are not done yet, with ‘three or four more’ set to follow them in the door at Blackhouse Lane.
“We just want to get the squad competing with the sides in the league and get points from those around us,” said Lines, who led his Stanway Rovers Reserves side to a league and cup double last term.
“Looking at our squad on paper now, they are not a side that should be bottom of the league.
“We will not want to sit around there for long and we want to get a mid-table finish this season and have another re-structure over the summer, perhaps, and see what then.”
Ahead of Saturday’s home game with Swaffham Town, Chris Tracey and Jack Wignall’s side had only picked up a single point from their opening eight matches — having been full of optimism at the start of the campaign with ambitions of targeting a top five finish.
But Lines and Aves, the latter who left Halstead Town Reserves to hook up with his friend in their first senior management role, got their points tally at the club up-and-running at the first attempt, following a 3-3 draw.
Striker Lewis Blanchett, who signed from Wivenhoe Town in the week and had previously worked with Lines, scored two penalties while Dave Dowding, who retains the captaincy under the new regime, got the other.
But the result left Lines a bit disappointed, having seen his side lead 2-0 and their opponents reduced to 10 men before their 3-2 lead was wiped out late on after a contentious penalty which saw the hosts also end with 10 as another new boy, Aaron Donaldson, received a second yellow card.
“It was mixed emotions after the game,” he said.
“The penalty seemed a bit soft and came in the last few minutes. But the ref had just given us one, so it did even things up.
“When we sat down in the changing room afterwards we did say we would have taken a point from Swaffham. They have a class striker in Alex Vincent.”
Explaining why they took the job, Aves said: “Me and Ryan both played there when Phil Kelly and the Brightlingsea boys were there.
“We got up to 7th or 8th under Symesy (Chris Symes) and had a good FA Cup run and thought we might be able to replicate that.”
In total, 11 new players have already joined Lines and Aves, who are both former Cornard players, since their arrival was announced last Monday.
But Lines is not concerned about the team being able to fuse together in time, with many already being familiar with playing with each other.
“Liam and myself have already worked with some of these guys who have come through at Stanway or Halstead and the process of gelling is already well under way because eight of them have played in the same side before and there are six lads left from the previous team,” he said.
“Match fitness will be our big problem as not many of this team have had a good pre-season.
“They are all good players though who have played at this level or the one above.”
Attacking midfielder or forward Donaldson was with Aves at Halstead Town Reserves, while left-sided central midfielder Jamie Moore will be dual registered from parent Bostik League club Witham Town. No-nonsense midfielder Ryan Malin includes Heybridge Swifts and Stanway Rovers Reserves among his previous clubs, while defender Lee Kidger was part of Lines’ double-winning Stanway Rovers Reserves side last season.
Central midfielder Michael Schofield has made the short journey over from Long Melford to drop down a division, having played a pivotal part in Lines’ double-winning reserves side at Stanway last season.
Perry Flatts, also a central midfielder, has previously been with Braintree Town and Brad James is a former captain with Stansted who plays centre-half.
As well as Dowding, the other remaining players from the previous regime are Ezra and Rowan Drann, Gavin Hannah, Sam Newton and goalkeeper Daniel Joyce.
Cornard travel to Downham Town, who are two places and four points above them, on Saturday (3pm) before travelling to Little Oakley on Tuesday (7.45pm).