New-look Tigers hope to go one better again
NEW season, new system but the same old aims are there for upwardly-mobile Gloucester City.
The Tigers kick off their fifth campaign of Skrill North football on Humberside at North Ferriby United tomorrow with boss Dave Mehew keen for his 'best-ever' squad to hit the ground running.
Targeting an improved finish in the football pyramid for a seventh successive season, Mehew has tinkered with his squad in the summer recess and formed a new plan of attack.
A new system built around flying wingers and summer signings Matt Groves and Scott Wilson will see City abandon 4-4-2 for 4-3-3 for the kick-off.
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Keen to be as competitive as possible in the middle of the park, the long-serving City boss believes his side's ability to counter-attack at pace will be crucial to their hopes, especially away from home.
"That's the plan, to use the pace we have in the side,"Mehew said.
"It's becoming more and more a norm in football to have only one up front and two players out wide.
"If you play with just two players in the centre of the park, you can get overrun, and we have a far more adaptable squad now than we've had in the past.
"There will be times when we go with a 4-4-2 but our strength at the moment is in that midfield area and with our pacy players out wide."
Wing ace Groves, a summer capture from Yate Town, and returning forward Scott Wilson are set for starts alongside central striker Darren Edwards in the new-look front three.
Wilson has been among the goals in pre-season, while the signing of the fleet-footed Groves has brought a new level of excitement among the club's supporters.
"It's the best squad I have had in my time here, but they still have to go out on the pitch and perform," Mehew said.
"We have a tough start with North Ferriby, who won the Northern Premier League last season, and then Worcester in a local derby on Tuesday night.
"Add in Telford, who are most people's favourites for the league this season, in the next game and it's a tough start - but if we can get points on the board early that will give us great confidence.
"As ever, our target is to try and improve on last season's finish and if we can play to our potential then there is no reason why we can't do that.
"There are going to be no whipping boys this year like Hinckley were last year, and I don't think there is going to be a side run away with it like Chester did last year.
"There are going to be more and more teams taking points of each other and I wouldn't rule out finishing in a higher place in the table with a lower points total."
As well as Groves and Wilson, Mehew will give fellow new signings Tyler Weir and Jamie Edge a start, with former Arsenal trainee Edge partnering Tom Webb and fit-again Darren Mullings in central midfield.
Playmaker Lewis Hogg will miss the trip due to a one game ban carried over from last season, while Will Morford, Matt Liddiard and Joe Parker are all currently out on loan.