Hall Road are back in the NCEL Premier for the first time in 2013, and it’s fair to say they’re carrying though the ambition that saw them promoted last season.
It’s been a positive pre-season for the club but their new faces have some big holes to fill; the departures of some key players in Ash Dexter, Joe Cooper and Jake Vernon come as a blow. So who will be the key cogs in the side in the 2017/18 season?
Phil Dobson (Goalkeeper)
Ash Dexter was arguably the club’s key man last season leading from the back, but following his retirement, Phil Dobson has big shoes to fill as the new club captain. With the Rangers going into the season with overall a pretty young squad, the experience and quality of Dobson in goal will be massive, especially on home turf at Haworth Park. Rangers conceded the least goals in Division One last season and Dobson was a massive part of that with some huge saves, none more so than a huge penalty save late on against Penistone at home in February; one of several moments that made it feel like things were falling into place for Hall Road.
James Piercy (Defender)
Rangers’ Young Player of the Year for last season has been rewarded for an impressive season and taken the reigns as vice-captain. His presence in the box makes him the main man in the Rangers defence, and he’s never afraid to attack the ball from a corner. A wise head on young shoulders.
Louis Bruce (Defender)
Bruce is one of a handful of new signings, and comes in to bolster Dave Ricardo’s options at the back. The former North Ferriby man was impressive in pre-season and even managed to bag a goal against Westella from a corner. He’s got some leadership qualities about him too and is a qulity signing for this level given wherehe was playing just a few seasons ago.
Tom Bennett (Midfielder)
Bennett brings stability in midfield and impressed throughout last season. However, with the main man in the middle of the park Joe Cooper having left the club, Bennett must be one of the men who steps up to dominate this area of the field. A great ball winner, he’s seems to be one of the first names of Dave Ricardo’s team sheet every week.
Josh Batty (Attacker)
Batty is arguably one of the best young players playing in the NCEL at the moment, and many who watch him regularly believe that big things lie in wait for him. He is a real attacking threat, both with his feet and in the air and towards the end of last season became a crucial member of the squad in the hunt for promotion. His two goals on the final day away at Campion sealed Hall Road’s first ever title.