Goalkeeper Lovell is hero as Emley make a point in first NCE Premier match
After their long wait to play Premier Division football Emley AFC produced a battling display to earn a point from their opening game of the new season in the Toolstation NCE League.
With their dream of playing in the league’s top flight achieved the Pewits are not aiming to simply make the numbers up and have made some notable signings to bolster their promotion squad, particularly former Leeds United player Seb Carole and Matthew Sykes.
They were made to work hard in their first Premier match at Winterton Rangers, but defended stoutly with Liam Lovell’s 85th minute penalty save from Paul Grimes ensuring they brought home a point from a 0-0 draw.
The hosts were also awarded a penalty in the first half, but Josh Walker’s effort hit the crossbar.
Closest to scoring for Emley was Jack Bennett, who was through one-on-one with the Rangers keeper in the first half only to be denied by a fine save, and later saw the home stopper keep out his effort following a fine breakdown the left.
Emley turn attentions to the FA Cup when they welcome Congleton to the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground for an extra preliminary round tie on Sunday (kick-off 1.30pm).
Manager Richard Tracey has been pleased with Emley’s pre-season work as they played nine matches with a mix of experienced senior players, youth players and trialists.
Four of the games were against opponents from the higher Northern Premier League, and one against the full-time professionals of Huddersfield Town’s academy and it was always planned that way.
Tracey explained to the club’s website: “Pre-season was planned as a journey to hit peak before the season starts, we deliberately went and planned difficult tests for us to build and to identify areas which we needed to improve and we had a real tough start.
“We lost 4 in a row after a draw at Millmoor, with a young side, from there, having won the next four and showed much improved performances, but that is the journey.
“Pre-season certainly hasn’t been smooth, with large numbers of players absent from training and games in these difficult times, but we feel we have a good group and a talented squad who can win games in the Premier Division. ”
On expectations for the campaign ahead when Emley are at step 5 for the first time, Tracey added: “We know what to expect from the division and we have respect for every team at this level.
“We know that on any given day, anyone can beat anyone, we’ll focus on our jobs and not get carried away with making predictions of top six, mid-table etc.
“We’ll look to try and win every game and see where that takes us.”