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Railway as ‘ready as they can be’ for season-opener at Maltby

Harrogate Railway forward Sean Hunter is felled during Saturday's pre-season friendly with Leeds City. Picture: Adrian Murray
Harrogate Railway forward Sean Hunter is felled during Saturday's pre-season friendly with Leeds City. Picture: Adrian Murray

Harrogate Railway are as “ready as they can be” for their opening game of the 2018/19 NCEL Premier Division season.

That is the view of manager Brian Davey ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser away at Maltby Main.

“We’ve worked hard all summer, we’ve prepared well and done everything that we can do,” he said.

“The lads are as fit and as ready as they can be and we’re all looking forward to it now. It’s a new venture for me personally and a lot of these players as well.

“Our chairman Mick Edwards asked me put together the best possible local side that I can and I feel that’s what we’ve got.

“We have a young and inexperienced squad for this level of football but we’ll have a good go. I’m sure that these lads will improve as we go along.”

Maltby finished 2017/18 in fifth place, whereas the Railwaymen were relegated, only then to receive a reprieve following the resignation of Rainworth Miners Welfare.

With this in mind, Davey knows that his players will have their work cut out on the opening day.

“Maltby is not an easy place to go at all,” he added.

“There’s a big sloping pitch and they are difficult to play against.

“We certainly could have had a nicer fixture on the first day of the season, but this is what we’ve got.

“They’ll be thinking that they can take three points off us, but it is up to us to give a good account of ourselves.”

Joel Freeston is unavailable for the trip to South Yorkshire having picked up an arm injury in pre-season, while fellow forward Josh Underwood also misses out as he works his way back to fitness.

Midfielder Fatlum Ibrahimi is another player not in contention at Maltby due to being on holiday, but otherwise Railway are at full-strength and boss Davey has 17 fit players to choose from, including left-winger Lewis Riley who has recently returned to Station View from Brighouse Town.

The men from Starbeck finished their pre-season preparations with a 1-1 home draw against West Yorkshire League outfit Leeds City on Saturday.

Simon Swales handed Davey’s team a first-half lead, but the visitors pulled level after the break.

“The first half against Leeds was probably the best we have played all summer,” Davey said.

“We went 1-0 up and it could have had more but we missed some very good chances.

“They were the better side in the second half and in the end a draw was a fair result.”