They may have only been at the helm for just over a month, but joint Cornard United manager Ryan Lines believes performances and results are starting to show something special is being built
The Ards were without a win all season when Lines took over the reins with Liam Aves, but since then the former managers of Stanway Rovers Reserves and Halstead Town Reserves have masterminded four victories and three draws from 11 games in all competitions.
And league results have seen Cornard rise two places off the foot of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division table.
A narrow 2-1 defeat at home to the division’s unbeaten league leaders, Woodbridge Town, on Saturday was seen as further progress under the entirely new team, which the duo have quickly assembled.
“It was nice for Woodbridge’s management and players at the end to come up to us and say we are the best side they have played,” said Lines.
“It shows we are going in the right direction.
“We are starting to turn heads and people are saying we have a big budget, but we have not got any money.
“It is just players we know that want to play football.
“Most of the lads we have brought in knew each other and so the gelling process has happened quickly, probably quicker than we expected.”
And Lines is not ruling out ambitious plans to challenge for a place at a higher level next season.
“We have no targets for this season, but we are trying to finish as high as we can.
“If things go well we could get into the top 10. That sounds silly but we have got a side now that can match the teams at the top.
“We were 3-1 up at Debenham before conceding two goals the previous Tuesday and we beat Framlingham at theirs, albeit in the cup. We were then unlucky to lose to Woodbridge on Saturday.
“If we can get a bit of money to put into the squad over the summer, we can probably target the top five and challenge (for promotion) next season.
“That’s as long as we are not dragged into the new Essex league, which will be a strong league, as that would be a struggle.
“We have no control over that one, though, as we are right on the border and Sudbury have a side in the Essex Senior Reserve League.”
Cornard travel to play another undefeated side in the division on Saturday, in Framlingham Town (3pm), looking to repeat their First Division Kncokout Cup success at Badingham Road less a month ago, when they claimed a 2-0 victory.
On Saturday, ex-AFC Sudbury striker Mark Ray put The Woodpeckers ahead shortly before half-time with a great curling effort before the visitors doubled their advantage via Jake Green.
Erza Drann deservedly pulled a goal back for Cornard from Mason Lumley’s cross and came close to levelling late on through Lumley.
“We were a bit disappointed not to get anything from the game,” said Lines.
“Their goalkeeper pulled off a cup final save in the last minute, pushing it around the post.”
Talented goalkeeper Daniel Joyce (Ipswich Wanderers) has been replaced by Lines’ former Stanway Rovers Reserves stopper Jordan Giddings, but he is now sidelined with a broken knuckle. Seventeen-year-old Harry Stock is set to deputise, having already played a few times this season.
Meanwhile, the managers have also moved to bring in midfielders Reece Keating (Holland FC) and Ryan McGibbon (Wivenhoe Town), with the former making his debut in Saturday’s defeat.