Andrew Warshaw previews Enfield Town FC’s 2019/20 season
After a summer of comings and goings Enfield Town FC start the new football season – in the renamed BetVictor Isthmian League – with fresh determination.
Despite finishing tenth in 2018/19, seven places higher than 2017/18, there was disappointment and frustration that the club failed to achieve a play-off place. There will be fewer resources available for new players this time round, but manager Andy Leese is determined to learn from his mistakes and create a positive vibe in the dressing room which, at times last season, was lacking intensity.
While several players have moved on, some familiar faces are returning – none more so than goalkeeper Nathan McDonald, a popular figure during his previous spell at Donkey Lane. Another notable returnee is right-back Jon Muleba, who made 45 appearances for the Towners in 2016/17, while new arrivals include proven goalscorer Sam Bantick, winger James Potton and experienced midfielder Scott Thomas.
The club has also managed to persuade highly-talented and popular striker Muhammadu Faal, whose 2018/19 campaign was blighted by injury, to stay on and sign forms for the forthcoming season. “I’m delighted to get Mo back in to the club,” says Leese. “He showed us what he can do last year and now that he’s fit again I’m sure he will replicate last season’s form.”
Speaking of the summer revamp, Leese is optimistic about the new-look squad. While a number of key players have departed, much of the nucleus of last season’s team have been retained. In most cases the departures were unavoidable. “Every year, at every level, players get offered what they feel are better deals that suit their personal circumstances. A club like ours simply cannot compete to get them to stay.
“The league has plenty of clubs geographically local to us now, all vying for similar players which makes it very challenging when you are negotiating. I can’t deny that we set out last season to be a top-five side.
“Injuries to key players didn’t help us in the second half and then we ran into teams which had momentum. The squad itself didn’t quite have the right balance or the right characters.”
If that sounds like excuses, Leese is brutally honest when it comes to taking responsibility. Many Town fans became disillusioned with the playing style last season and Leese has pledged to put that right, notably playing two strikers when possible, starting with the opening game of the season at Lewes on Saturday 10th August. He said: “We’re ready to go again and I’m quietly confident that we’ll be very competitive.”