Harrogate Railway to begin 2019/20 'down to the bare bones'

Harrogate Railway, red kit, and Knaresborough Town kick-off their respective NCEL campaigns on Saturday. Picture: Craig Dinsdale
Harrogate Railway, red kit, and Knaresborough Town kick-off their respective NCEL campaigns on Saturday. Picture: Craig Dinsdale

Harrogate Railway will kick-off their 2019/20 campaign “down to the bare bones”, according to manager Des Macorison.

The Starbeck club were relegated to NCEL Division One at the end of last term and their new boss has been hard at work during the close season assembling a new-look squad that he believes can challenge for an instant return to the top-flight.

They will have to do things the hard way when they entertain Campion on Saturday, however, with injury doubts over five players including captain Joe Jagger, ex-York City and Northern Ireland youth international Ryan Caulfield and defender Simon Swales.

“There are question marks over five of our players so we’ll be down to the bare bones which is not ideal for the first game of the season, but it is what it is. I’ve got faith in the whole squad,” Macorison said.

“We are looking forward to the game. Campion have got some good players, including Lewis Riley and Marcus Day who used to play here, and they finished second last season so it will be a tough test, but we’ll get a good indicator of where we are at the final whistle.

“Our last friendly of pre-season [a 4-2 loss to Golcar United] didn’t really go to plan but we were still able to take some positives from it and I think we are ready.

“I believe that our squad is good enough to compete and do well at this level and I’m confident that we’ll be right up there challenging for promotion come the end of the season.”

Kick-off at Station View is at 3pm and entry to the game is free.

Meanwhile, neighbours Knaresborough Town get their Premier Division season underway with a trip to AFC Mansfield, who were demoted from Evo-Stik East Division One in June after their ground failed to meet the required grading criteria.

"We know that it will be a tough first fixture, but having said, that I can’t see any easy games this season, as the league will be very competitive," Boro's assistant boss Paul Clayton told the club's website.

"There are three promotion places to play for this year, so it looks like some of the clubs are really going for it and seem to be putting a lot of resources into their playing squads.

"AFC Mansfield are a new squad this year after their relegation from Evo Stik East, so we don’t know a lot about them.

"They have been scoring a lot of goals in their pre-season games, but were on the wrong end of a 7-1 scoreline on Tuesday night against Hednesford who play at step three.

"I don’t think you can look at pre-season scores too much as teams are trying new players and experimenting with formations, so sometimes the scorelines are a little false.

"The tinkering and experimenting is now over and it starts for real on Saturday.

"I feel the players are ready for the tough season ahead and as usual will give their all for the club and will do their best to make Knaresborough Town as competitive as possible."