Shone and Ayres target a top five finish for Flackwell Heath

Flackwell Heath’s new assistant boss, Paul Shone, says he’s committed to getting the best out of the players in the coming months as he and manager Chris Ayres target a top five finish in the Spartan South Midlands Premier League.

They’ve given their rivals at the top a head start with their indifferent early season form, but Shone is confident the team are good enough to reel most of them back in.

After Marcus Richardson’s surprise departure last week, Ayres and Shone were installed as Flackwell’s management team, and they got off to a perfect start with the side winning 2-1 at Tring Athletic on Saturday, thanks to Adam Thomas’ equaliser and a winning goal from the returning Fabian Driffill in the 80th minute.

Chris Blunden bagged the hosts’ solitary goal in the 10th minute.

“Saturday was pleasing – we were dominant from the off, we fully deserved the three points, and the scoreline could’ve been much healthier,” said Shone.

“It’s great to be back in the dugout and back amongst it. I’m looking forward to what the future ahead holds for the club on and off the field.”

Now bedded in with a few training sessions and a victory under their belts, the management team have revealed their targets for the season.

“In recent times, the form of the club hasn’t been as consistent as it once was. So, it’s a matter of us getting the best back out of the players and building on that,” said Shone.

“Obviously, we want to finish as high as possible, but we’ve got to be realistic, understand we’ve just come in, and look at the teams that are up there competing with their budgets etc. At this point in the season, we’re probably never going to catch them.

“I know you never say never in football, but our main aim is building consistency, having some good cup runs and a top five finish would be pleasing. That would put us in good stead for next season too.”

“We’re not going to make wholesale changes because the squad is very good – it’s just lacking in depth.

“One or two extra will give the current players a little kick and a boost, so that’s what we’ll look to do in the next week or so.”

On working alongside Ayres, Shone said: “I’ve known Chris a long, long time.

“We worked together at Burnham, so we’ve got a very good understanding of what we want to achieve going forward, how we want to play, and the personnel we want at the club.

“We also have Keith Ryan – ex-Wycombe Wanderers – on board helping out in sessions.

“That’s massive for us aswell as the players. He started out at non-league level, at Berkhamsted, all them years ago and then went on to forge a fantastic career in the professional game.

“If we can dip in and use his experience, his knowledge, and his knowhow, then that’s great.”

They’ll now look to make the most of their positive start when they get back to league action at leaders Risborough Rangers on Tuesday, a side who’ve yet to lose in the league this season.

Saturday’s win was Flackwell’s second on the spin and lifts them to 12th in the table.

The team had struggled to adjust to life in the Spartan League after their sideways switch from the Hellenic Premier Division, but slowly, and now under new management, seem to be finding their feet.

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