Black keeping level headed through pre-season schedule
Grant Black has been pleased with Belper Town's pre-season so far but isn't getting too high or low ahead of the 2018/19 Evo-Stik East Division season.
The Nailers have won three out of four friendly matches this summer - and bagged six against Worsbrough Bridge on Thursday night - but Black is looking at the bigger picture.
Worsbrough will play NCEL Division One football next season and Belper will step up their preparations again on Saturday at NCEL Premier Division side Goole AFC.
They have testing home games against Coalville Town (4th August), Chesterfield XI (7th August) and Matlock Town (11th August) to end their pre-season fixtures schedule.
And Black said each opposition offers a fresh challenge to his Nailers squad.
“If you have a bad performance in pre-season I don’t think you should jump too far into it and if you excel then I don’t think you can look too much at it either,” he said.
“It’s about picking out the lads who are getting into good habits and into the mindset of Evo-Stik football and what is to be expected from the 18th August.
“We’re drilling into the lads what we want to do. We can’t just switch it on come 18th August, they know we’ve got to do it now so it comes naturally then.
“We’re not reading too much into it but the positives are there.
“Players are getting on the score sheet, defensively we’re looking pretty solid, the shape is starting to look good and the goalkeeper is looking really good.
“It’s good that fans are coming to games and feeling positive. That’s what the club needs and that’s what the lads want - we want a good crowd behind us.”
Belper saw a lot of the ball in their 6-1 win over Worsbrough and there were goals too for Anton Daniels, Nathan Curtis (2), Marcus Day, Jake Sturgess and Dylan Garnett.
“We played really well. A lot of things came together last night,” said Black.
“Fitness is massive in these games. We went through a lot of work in and out of possession. It was another 90 minutes for the lads to get a feel for the ball.
“We were able to work on little bits and pieces about how we want to play. We’re drilling that into the lads on how we want to go about doing things.
“All the lads are on board with how we’re looking to play and it’s coming together nicely.”
Next up is Goole AFC, who were relegated from the Evo-Stik North Division last season, but will bring a different challenge to previous sides, said Black.
“Goole will be more direct than Worsbrough were. We’ll face difference strengths to last night. It’ll test our physicality and then we can judge that.
“We’ll train hard Tuesday and Thursday and then we’ve got Coalville (Saturday) and Chesterfield (Tuesday) which will be another step up for the lads.
“We probably won’t see as much of the ball as we have in the last couple of weeks.”
And the prospect of three home matches against higher league opponents is one Black believes will have his troops in tip top shape for the season opener against Morperth Town.
He added: “No disrespect to any of the teams lower down, but we wanted a lot of possession in those earlier pre-season games but I think it’s important that when you get into August you come up against teams you’re going to be playing against week-in and week-out.
“There’s not that much difference between Evo-Stik Prem and Evo-Stik East in terms of standards. Coalville and Matlock will give us a good idea of where we’re at going into the new season. It’s important we play these teams before the season starts.”