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Blackstones FC start their new United Counties League Division One campaign at Dunkirk

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Joint manager Jon Harrison is hoping a new management team and new-look squad will bring a freshness to Blackstones as their campaign gets underway on Saturday.

Stones start their United Counties League Division One season with a trip to Dunkirk looking to put a difficult campaign behind them last term.

They finished second-from-bottom of the table and needed a reprieve from relegation to maintain their step six status.

Ryan Wood and Jon Harrison. Photo: Rob O'Brien (58298433)
Ryan Wood and Jon Harrison. Photo: Rob O'Brien (58298433)

Having had three management teams last season, Stones appointed Harrison and co-boss Ryan Wood during the summer after successful spells in the Peterborough League.

Their new side acquitted themselves well in higher level tests against Grantham Town and Stamford during pre-season before ending their friendlies with a narrow 2-1 home loss against Whittlesey which has given Harrison plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

He said: "We've had some good tests in pre-season where the lads have had to give that little bit of extra and we're definitely in a better position than when we started.

"We're all looking forward to Saturday now and there's a mix of nerves and excitement.

"We're as strong as we can be and the thing for a lot of us is that we're going into the unknown but hopefully that will work in our favour.

"We'll give it a good go because it will be a different style of play to last season with different personnel who will hopefully take a few by surprise because we won't be a Blackstones side who will roll over.

Kieran Duffy-Weekes (right). Photo: Rob O'Brien
Kieran Duffy-Weekes (right). Photo: Rob O'Brien

"The players will want to play for the shirt and there's been a lot of bonuses so far.

"We will look to get to Christmas and then see where we are. If we're the higher side of mid-table then we can have a good go at trying to get into the play-offs but, if it's the lower side, then we will try and get into the top half of the table.

"There will be no relegation worries this season though. It's a new experience for a few lads which brings a freshness to it.

"We haven't got the worries or pressures like last season and the club is in the right place off the pitch as well.

"Everything is going in the right direction and the main aim every week will be trying to get teams to worry about us rather than us being worried about them.

"All of the players have bought into what we've asked for so far. Hopefully that will continue and we can have a good season."

Kenny Wheatland (left). Photo: Rob O'Brien
Kenny Wheatland (left). Photo: Rob O'Brien

Stones only have a couple of players from last season's squad in Jack Wilson, Archie Wallace and goalkeeper Simon Dalton who will start the campaign with newcomer Bartosz Berezowski unavailable until mid-August.

Experienced former Blackstones boss Mark Baines has returned to the club in a playing role along with the popular Bognan Masnita.

Ex-Stamford Lions duo Luke Gove and Kieran Duffy-Weekes - who started last season with Stamford Bels before joining Harrison and Wood at Netherton - have also been recruited.

A number of players have followed the management duo from the Peterborough League Premier Division club including Bailey and Hayden Armiger, Leo Brando, Alfie Ferguson, Edmunds Grunsteins, Andy Irvine, Louie Venni and Kenny Wheatland.

They have been joined by Dami Agboola, Matt Molyneux, Harrison McLoughlin and Ayman Trabelsi while Joe Graham has made the switch from Peterborough North End.

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