Thorne Colliery FC are on course for their most successful season in over a decade.
Colliery go into the final third of their 2013-14 Central Midlands League Northern Division campaign battling for honours on four fronts.
The club’s improved fortunes is a fitting reward for the hard work put in by manager Tony Stroud during his five years in charge.
“It was a struggle for the first couple of seasons trying to get the local lads back that I wanted after the previous manager brought in players from outside the area,” he reflected.
He added: “We set ourselves a target of finishing in the top four in the league and getting through to a cup final, which we’ve already achieved by reaching the Goole and Thorne FA Cup final.
“We are also through to the semi-final of the Doncaster FA Cup and the quarter-final of the CML Challenge Cup.”
Colliery are currently lying fourth in the league with a number of games in hand over the three teams above them.
Whilst others view Colliery as serious contenders, Tony is not letting himself get too carried away.
“We’ve got games in hand, mostly against teams in the bottom half of the table, and were we to win them all then we’d only be three points off the top,” he said.
“But I’d rather have the points in the bag and I still think it will be between Westella and Mansfield.
“They are both good teams and I can’t see them dropping too many points in the run-in.”
Thorne, who beat Westella and only lost out to an 88th minute winner against Mansfield, can give their cause a huge boost by picking up six points in the return games.
“We’ll keep taking it one game at a time and see where that takes us, but we probably can’t afford to lose another game,” said Tony, who’ll be hoping to keep leading scorer Ross Ebbage fit.
“Ross missed a few games with a groin injury at the start of the year and it’s a blow when he’s not playing because he gives us something a bit different up front,” he said.
“He’s good in the air and he’s also got a good shot on him.”
Skipper Darren Fell has also been among the goals this season and is another key man in a side.
“He’s a good leader and can play either up front or in the middle and he also has experience of playing at a higher level,” said Tony, whose closed-season defensive signings have paid off.
“We were conceding too many goals last season so I brought in a new back-four, including local lads Luke and Glen Rafferty, and they’ve made a big difference,” he added.