Cirencester Town manager John Brough believes his side are capable of a title challenge in the Southern League Division One South this season and admits he would love to win the league title again.
Brough, who managed Cinderford Town to their title win in 2016, spoke to Severn Sport after seeing his Cirencester side end their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 win over North Leigh at the Corinium Stadium.
First half goals from John Dennis and Josh Parsons were enough to see the Centurions claim the result and Brough said after the match that he was pleased with how well his side controlled the game.
“Before the game I knew it was going to be a tough game and that’s why I wanted to play North Leigh,” said Brough.
“Today was as close as you can get in pre-season to a proper league game against a side like theirs with the players they have and I wanted to use today as a chance to replicate what it would be like in a league game.
I thought we started the game very well, we got on the ball very well and our midfielders Joe [Turley] and Pooky [Michael Pook] got on the ball quickly and helped put us on the front foot – I felt that for the first 15 minutes we were excellent,” Brough added.
With first team players Shayne Anson and Jordon Morris amongst those unavailable, Brough admitted that he was looking to only make three subs throughout the 90 minutes to replicate a league game but his side’s control changed his mind during the game.
“Going into the game I was looking to treat this like a league game, I was only going to make three subs because I wanted to keep it as close to a league game as possible,” said the former North Leigh manager.
“But as the game went on and the way we were playing I took a look at the bench and thought ‘I tell you what, let’s get some minutes against some good players here’ and when I did make the changes it did disrupt us a little bit, but you have got to accept that and I thought towards the end we kicked on again and I thought we were the side most likely to score the third goal,” Brough said.
The game was CIren’s final pre-season game ahead of their trip to Flackwell Heath in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup next weekend other than an in-house friendly against the Development side during training in midweek and Brough admits he has been pleased with how his side has developed over the pre-season schedule.
“We have played more friendlies than I have ever played in the past I think, I try to keep it to about 5 or 6 games and I think we have had 8 now, which is a first for me.
But saying that I’ve never had a squad of players were I am getting 22-26 players turning up at training and I have tried to give everyone the opportunity to show what they can do and stake a claim and today it showed a lift in level of performance compared to the Longlevens game at the start of August for instance.
I have been pleased with the way it has gone, the last three games have been against sides at our sort of level and we have managed to keep clean sheets, score goals and get results.
I have always said, even to you guys, results don’t matter in pre-season but when you are getting close to the first game of the season you want to get into that winning mentality,” said Brough.
After the FA Cup game at Flackwell Heath, Cirencester Town start their 2020/21 Southern League season away at Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday 19th September and Brough say that whilst he knows how hard it is to win the league, he wants to win every game and believes his side have the ability to challenge for the title.
“I want to win every game,” chuckled Brough. “Simple as that, whether its a League Cup, FA Cup, FA Trophy, Gloucestershire Cup or league game, I want to win the game – that is just my mentality and that is what I want to get across to the players, so it doesn’t bother me starting with the FA Cup or a league fixture.
It’s hard to really say what you expect or target at this stage, but people who know me know that simply, I want to win the league again.
It’s as simple as that but it isn’t as straight forward as that of course. There is a lot of work that needs to go in to achieve that and there will be players and teams who on their day will be better than you and there will be days where it just won’t click for you.
No one has got any given right to win a game of football but like today, the boys worked really hard for 90 minutes, whether it was closing down, recovery runs or moving the ball and of course working hard for each other – which is just as important.
So if we can keep up the level of performance we have shown 95% of the time then we should have a successful season,” Brough added.
Cirencester Town head to Flackwell Heath on Saturday 12th September in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.