A scrooge-like defence has provided the solid foundation for Daventry Town’s best pre-season build-up since the UCL championship-winning team of 2010 moved up to the Southern League.
Unbeaten in seven friendly matches since mid-July, the Town kept a clean sheet for more than eight hours between the opening day 7-2 defeat of AEI Rugby and Saturday’s 2-1 win at Southam.
Thurnby Nirvana, Wellingborough Town, Hoddesdon and Long Buckby all failed to find the Daventry net but a goalless draw with relegated Conference League side Corby Town was the icing on the cake.
The strikers have been slow to get into their stride during the July heatwave although Ashley Robinson did score a hat-trick against the Bucks at Station Road whilst wide man Mykel Beckley netted four times in three games including Saturday’s winner at Southam.
Without further signings Beckley will challenge Scott Cross for a place alongside Robinson in the starting line-up against Ashford Town on August 17 unless manager Darran Foster decides to move Ryan Howell up front.
“Howler” scored 23 times from midfield in the Town’s 2009-10 UCL title-winning team whilst new recruit Chris Murphy netted five times from the middle of the park in Daventry’s first two friendlies this summer.
In scoring 27 times in the first seven friendlies, the Town picked up seven goals against both AEI Rugby and Hoddesdon not to mention a six-goal haul against an inexperienced Long Buckby side.
Cynics will point out that, the Corby game apart, Foster’s men have yet to meet opposition playing at a higher level than step six in the non-League pyramid. Home games this week against both Coalville and Romulus were destined to provide stiffer examinations.
In 2010 Daventry lost to Thatcham and were held to five pre-season draws before manager Ady Fuller led his team to a SL Division One Midlands play-offs final at Hitchin. Then a year later big-name boss Mark Kinsella saw his team beaten 5-1 by UCL minnows Corby S and L.
Foster’s own baptism of fire 12 months ago resulted in friendly defeats by both Newport Pagnell and Coalville which were counter-balanced by a 2-0 win over Swindon Supermarine at Communications Park. Meanwhile, Foster will have a full week to prepare his players for the opening league game at home to Ashford Town on August 17.
Read next week’s Gusher for his assessment of leading title race clubs among the other 21 members of the Division One Central.