Cinderford top scorer Harding makes the step up as he bids farewell to Foresters

Cinderford Town top scorer James Harding will join National League South side Hungerford Town for the 2020/21 season, as the striker says goodbye to The Causeway.

Harding bids farewell to The Foresters with 21 goals in all competitions to his name, 13 of which came in the now expunged Southern League Division One South season.

The move was announced on Saturday evening and it came as no surprise to anyone, including the 23 year-old striker, that he has earned a move two divisions up the non-league pyramid.

“I’d played against the gaffa’s [Hungerford boss Danny Robinson] teams for a few years when I was at Flackwell Heath in the Hellenic and then at Cinderford in the southern league and had always managed to do well or score against him!

“He asked me if I would be interested in testing myself at that level and for me it was a no brainer. After a few phone calls and meeting up with Danny down at the ground (keeping our 2 metres apart) it was clear to me that this is a great opportunity so I decided to sign.

“It has all happened pretty quickly which for me is great as now I can purely focus on getting myself ready for next season, whenever that may be.”

Harding’s tally of 21 goals from 24 starts was enough to lead the way for The Foresters atop the goalscoring charts, so naturally we had to ask him which one, or ones, stood out to him!

“Personally my favourite goal of the season was probably my first away at AFC Totton; I played a bounce with Hunty [Josh Hunt] and managed to finish from a tight angle. From a team perspective the goal against Merthyr tips it, I think it made 4-4! Have to give Liam Angel credit for the assist, put it on a plate for me.”

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Former Gloucester City striker Harding was recognised multiple times by Severn Sport in our end of season awards, being nominated as Severn Sport Live player of the season.

If that accolade wasn’t enough, Harding was also named in the starting XI of Kelsey’s team of the season alongside Cinderford strike partner Josh Hunt and he hopes to carry that form forward with his new club.

“For me this season is about testing myself at a higher level and working hard to cement a regular first team spot. I’m confident that I will be able to continue to score goals and have set myself a few targets already!”

Cinderford manager Paul Michael said he was naturally disappointed to lose his top scorer, but was full of praise for the outgoing striker and hopes Harding’s move will attract more young talent to The Causeway.

James’ attitude over the last couple of years had been excellent, he doesn’t miss a session and always wants to improve. That has really allowed him to develop his game over the past couple of seasons, he’s undoubtedly an outstanding finisher with both feet and we wish him all the very best for the future.

James is yet another example of a young player that has been supported to move upwards in the pyramid and whilst we are determined to take this whole group to Step 3 together when football resumes, we also hope other motivated young players will see the reputation we have for pushing players up the pyramid.

If you have missed any episodes of our In the Spotlight series you can view the full playlist here.