Tuesday Jul 19, 2016
Andy Morrell will hope that the upcoming 2016/2017 proves to be third time lucky as he attempts to take Tamworth into the play-offs
Lambs aiming high in 2016/2017
Andy Morrell will hope that the upcoming 2016/2017 proves to be third time lucky as he attempts to take Tamworth into the play-offs after falling agonisingly short in the previous two attemps. The Lambs are certainly heading in the right direction since the former Wrexham manager arrived at the The Lamb Ground, and although an element of inconsistency cost the team last season as they finished eight points outside the top five, fans will hope that Tamworth can go one better. Some excellent signings, matched with on-going ground work to improve the quality of playing surface, are positive signs ahead of the new campaign, and with Tamworth rated as a 12/1 shot with Betway to win the Vanarama National League North title, it could be the season which sees the Lambs return to the National League for the first time in three years.
Morrell has not been afraid to dip into the transfer market to strengthen the squad, with four new faces already walking through the door at the Lamb. It remains to be seen whether more will follow as the Tamworth manager may look for stability instead of making wholesale changes, but if the quality outweighs the quantity, then it should stand the Lambs in good stead ahead of the new campaign. The blow of losing last season’s top scorer Elliott Durrell to Chester has been softened by the arrival of striker Greg Mills, who scored an impressive seventeen goals for Corby who finished bottom of the table. He could prove to be an excellent coup for the Lambs, with Mills joining Stephen Morley (Brackley), Jack Lane (Nuneaton) and Joe Clarke (Kidderminster) as the other new players who could make a difference this season.
Having the best defensive record in the Vanarama National League North last season is testament to the work done on the training ground, with Morrell tightening up ship to create a platform for the players further up the pitch to express themselves. However, scoring goals proved to be a problem, with only eight teams scoring less than the fifty-five Tamworth managed; Durrell provided just under a quarter of those with thirteen, and although fellow striker Danny Newton also reached double figures with ten, the others failed to chip in. Morrell may need to add more goals to Tamworth’s game before the fans can feel confident to back them for promotion on Betway, but the arrival of Mills could make a big difference. Hitting seventeen goals for a team that struggled throughout the season is an impressive feat, with Morrell hoping that Mills can reproduce the same form in Tamworth colours.
Tamworth will start their pursuit of glory in the 2016/2017 season with a trip to Brackley Town, with Morley facing a reunion with his former team-mates at St. James’ Park early doors. Brackley’s 1-0 win in the same fixture last season saw the Saints avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth on the final day, so revenge will be on the agenda as Morrell and the team travel down south next month. With back-to-back home games against Worcester City and AFC Telford United coming straight after the Brackley game for the Lambs, it represents a great opportunity for Morrell’s team to get off to a strong start.
Opening the 2016/2017 campaign against three teams who finished just outside the relegation zone is arguably the best possible start, but as there is a chance that all three teams could fare much better, Tamworth cannot afford to become complacent. A forty-two game season is certainly more of a marathon than a sprint, but if the Lambs can put points on the board early doors and build up momentum, then this season could be the one that sees Tamworth break into the top five.