Belford reflects on “up and down” season

Manager Courtney Belford said he reflects on his first season in charge of Hinckley AFC as one with “up and down” results.

AFC were eighth in the table, and seventh on a points per game ranking, when the season was cut short after the League Cup win over Ashby Ivanhoe a fortnight ago.

And Belford says he was pleased with the improvement on the season before – but rued not applying more pressure on the sides above them in the table.

He said: “It was disappointing not to get closer to the top four, but when we arrived the remit was to improve on last season and we did that.

“We won more games and got more points than last year, despite having the season cut short, and that was what we needed in the short-term.”

So how would Belford rate the shortened campaign?

“Probably a six out of ten.

“It’s difficult to assess because you always want to win every game, but we had to be realistic with the resources we had compared to other teams.

“It’s been up and down overall. We had some very good wins but equally some bad defeats and difficult results. But I think we showed signs of starting to iron those out towards the end.”

The former Nuneaton Griff boss believes both he and his players have taken a great deal on board through the course of the campaign, and can see the progression they made from August through to March.

“This was always likely to be a learning season for us, and for many players this was their first time at one of the league’s bigger clubs. There’s an expectation that comes with that and it took a while to adjust sometimes.

“Had we had the likes of Niall Rowe in from the start, it could have been a different outlook. We want to attract players who want to get out of this level, we want to get stronger.”

With a season of learning and developing under their belts, Belford says he’s excited to put those lessons into action when football resumes in 2020-21.

“We’ve learnt a lot collectively. We’ve gone through a lot of players but we started to achieve the sort of balance we wanted towards the end. That’s a young, hungry side with the right amount of experience who are more than capable at this level.

“Putting a team together from scratch is always tough to get that bond but we saw partnerships develop through the season.

“The Ashby performance was a good one to end on and that’s what I think we would have seen more of had we played the last 14 games.”

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