Peter Buckland admitted that Horsham YMCA ‘missed the boat’ for promotion from the Premier Division last season as the Gorings Mead outfit returned for pre-season training last week.
YM finished second in 2018/19, nine-points behind champions Chichester City, but a torrid Christmas period saw them pick up one win in six league games. This coupled with an almighty injury-list saw YMCA’s promotion push, once again, go up in smoke.
Buckland revealed he wished he had managed things differently but was adamant promotion was his ‘intention’ this season.
He said: “We missed the boat last year. We were well in control at Christmas but we really did suffer with half-a-dozen key players being out.
“What we didn’t do was face it head on that we were going to have players out for a long time. It kind of crept up on me.
“I wish I could have turned the clock back to last Christmas. I should have gone to another club and told them my situation.
“My short-term target now is to make sure we’re in the top-six by October. You’ve only got to win three games back-to-back and you’re in it.
“We’ll review everything come Christmas but my long-term intention is certainly promotion.”
YMCA have seen three key members of their squad depart this summer. Last season’s topscorer Dean Bown has joined BetVictor Premier Division side Lewes while defender Callum Donaghey and midfielder Alex Barbary have both signed for BetVictor South East’s Burgess Hill Town.
Buckland has moved quickly to replace hotshot Bown with a ‘prolific goalscorer’ and the YM boss also confirmed that the ‘hard core of the squad’ had committed to the club for the 2019/20 campaign.
He added: “I’ve replaced Dean with a player called Martin Smith. He ended the season with Redhill after staring it with Banstead and scored 34 goals.
“I’ve known him for years. He’s about 27 and he’s a prolific goalscorer.
“I know I don’t have to do anything with Martin for the training side of it. He’s ready to rock and roll and score goals.
“We’ve retained Dan Evans, (Dan) Mobsby, (Adam) Hunt, (Luke) Donaldson, (Jack) Ryder, (Aaron) Jeal, (Dean) Carden, (Tom) Gilbert, (Ash) Dugdale, Browny (Dave Brown)’s back now, Guy Harding, Tony Nwachukwu, Luke Gedling. The hard core of the squad is still there.”
YMCA’s first pre-season friendly sees them visit neighbours Roffey on Saturday (2pm).