New Star boss hopes his team will shine in a bap­tism of fire

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - SPORT - By Mark Plum­mer FOOT­BALL CORRESPONDENT

New Peter­bor­ough North­ern Star boss Rob Ward is rel­ish­ing the chal­lenge of man­ag­ing at Step 5 level for the first time.

Ward has suc­ceeded Raff Maz­zarella, who has moved into a direc­tor of foot­ball role, at the Dogsthorpe-based club.

His reign be­gins in earnest with a tough FA Cup test as Star wel­come lo­cal ri­vals Deep­ing Rangers to the Branch Bros Sta­dium for an ex­tra pre­lim­i­nary round tie this Satur­day (3pm kick-off ).

“Idon’tthinkwe­could­have asked for a tougher start than a tie against Deep­ing,” ad­mit­ted Ward.

“Every game is a fi­nal in a cup com­pe­ti­tion and we’re de­ter­mined to show how far we’ve come.

“We’ve man­aged to re­tain around 80 per cent of the play­ers from last sea­son and add a few de­cent sign­ings.

“It’s been a mixed pre-sea­son, but you al­ways ex­pect them when a new man­ager comes in and makes changes to the per­son­nel and the play­ing sys­tem.

“Things have taken a bit of time to bed in, but I feel we’ve been get­ting there over the last fort­night with some pleas­ing per­for­mances in­di­vid­u­ally and as a unit.

“I’ve been an as­sis­tant at Step 5 be­fore and I’m now look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of man­ag­ing at this level.

“We want to im­prove on last sea­son and I’m look­ing at the min­i­mum of a mid-ta­ble fin­ish rather than be­ing in the bot­tom half.

“I’ve got a de­cent track record in cups so I’m hope­ful of a cou­ple of good runs in those com­pe­ti­tions as well.”

Ward, who holds the UEFA B li­cence, spent 18 months at Peter­bor­ough & Dis­trict League Pre­mier Di­vi­sion side Ket­ton af­ter mov­ing to this area from Hert­ford­shire.

Ex­pe­ri­enced full-back Ste­wart Lam­bie has fol­lowed him from that club while promis­ing striker Zak Mun­ton has joined from Hol­beach. He played with sev­eral mem­bers of the cur­rent Star side when at Bourne Town.

Mid­fielder Craig Rook has ar­rived di­rectly from Bourne, while de­fender Jack Blood­worth is back for a sec­ond spell with Star af­ter rep­re­sent­ing them in his younger days. He helped Peter­bor­ough Sports Re­serves win the Peter­bor­ough & Dis­trict League Pre­mier Di­vi­sion ti­tle last term.

Two other new faces for­mer Nether­ton keeper Ross In­gram and ex-Oakham United shot-stop­per Si­mon Dal­ton - will fight over the num­ber one berth fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Dan Ge­orge to ti­tle con­tenders Ey­nes­bury Rovers.

Star then launch their United Coun­ties League Pre­mier Di­vi­sion chal­lenge with a home clash against new­lypro­moted Welling­bor­ough Whit­worth on Tues­day (Au­gust 15).

Star’s tie with their UCL Pre­mier Di­vi­sion ri­vals is the pick of the lo­cal FA Cup games this week­end.

There’s added spice to the tie with for­mer Star chief Michael Goode now man­ag­ing very suc­cess­fully at Deep­ing.

Goode has en­joyed two sea­sons in charge of Rangers and has been buoyed ahead of the third by hold­ing onto de­fender Jonny Clay and mid­fielder Char­lie Coul­son de­spite ad­vances from higher-level clubs.

New sign­ings de­fender Char­lie Ward and winger Brad Hockin from Sleaford should make their de­buts at Star, while classy mid­fielder Michael Simp­son is back in non-league foot­ball with Deep­ing af­ter a spell man­ag­ing Sawtry in the Peter­bor­ough & Dis­trict League.

Wis­bech Town and Hol­beach United, who were both vic­to­ri­ous in their open­ing UCL Pre­mier Di­vi­sion games last week­end, are also in FA Cup action on Satur­day at Big­gleswade FC and Ely City re­spec­tively.

Yax­ley will hope to take their ex­cel­lent pre-sea­son form into their FA Cup tie at UCL Di­vi­sion One side Raunds.

The Cuck­oos were un­beaten in the sum­mer and scored plenty of goals. The reign­ing UCL Cup win­ners should win com­fort­ably at Raunds.

Char­lie Coul­son.

Michael Goode.

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