North Somerset clubs eager to return to Toolstation Western League action

Action from Nailsea & Tickenham's pre-season friendly with Worle, which the Swags won 4-1.

Action from Nailsea & Tickenham's pre-season friendly with Worle, which the Swags won 4-1 with Jacob O'Donnell and Jared Ford both scoring twice. - Credit: Josh Thomas

Saturday will be one of the most exciting days in the sporting calendar with league football back for the first time in 98 days.

This weekend marks the return of the Toolstation Western League and all of our North Somerset clubs are eager to return to action. 

Ashton & Backwell United, Clevedon Town, Nailsea & Tickenham and Portishead Town have, however, all been dealt mixed opening day fixtures.

The Stags, the Swags and the Posset are at home with matches against Buckland Athletic, last years runners-up Warminster Town and FC Bristol, who changed their name from Lebeq United, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Seasiders are on their travels at Saltash United.

The four teams have all strengthened and put in place different aims. 

Ashton & Backwell are going into their second season in the Premier Division, having enjoyed a productive maiden campaign at step five after their historic promotion the year before.

Most Read

The Stags opened pre-season with a 7-0 win at St George Easton-in-Gordano before 5-0 and 4-0 defeats to Bristol Manor Farm and Paulton Rovers respectively.

And they picked up victories in their last two games, a 3-1 win and 3-0 triumph over Avonmouth and played their last pre-season friendly against local rivals Nailsea & Tickenham last night (Tuesday).

Ashton & Backwell's coaching staff from left to right, Jim Williams, Tony Beecham and Ryan Perrett.

Ashton & Backwell's coaching staff from left to right, Jim Williams, Tony Beecham and Ryan Perrett. - Credit: Josh Thomas

Manager Tony Beecham, taking charge of his first season after replacing Charlie Rich at the helm midway through the last campaign, said: “We are really looking forward to the start of the season especially with this being our first full pre-season since taking over. 

“The players know what to expect in terms of the standard and know they need to be at it week in week out.

“It’s the club's second season at this level and we've done very well to escape the drop last season with some eye-catching results. This season we will be looking to build on that and hopefully we will be looking at a mid-table finish.

“I’m really looking forward to it and the lads know what I expect of them and I’m pretty sure we will surprise a few teams this season like we did last. 

“We are up against a very good Buckland side in our opening game and we will be looking to get off to a good start.”

Clevedon Town, on the other hand, have have had mixed success in pre-season with two wins and three defeats from their first five games.

Having opened with a 3-2 win at Bovey Tracey, they lost 3-2 to Nailsea & Tickenham, 3-1 to Bristol City under-18s and 4-1 to Weston.

But the Seasiders returned to winnings ways with a 3-0 victory at Chipping Sodbury Town on Saturday and ended proceedings at Wrington Redhill last night (Tuesday). 

Clevedon Town manager Alex White with assistant manager Ryan King.

Clevedon Town manager Alex White with assistant manager Ryan King. - Credit: Josh Thomas

This will be his first full season as Clevedon manager for Alex White after he replaced Micky Bell last October and led the Seasiders 27 times, winning 16, drawing eight and losing three.

“We couldn’t have asked for a much tougher start to be honest, away to one of the league favourites,” White said. 

“That being said, I think we’re quite dangerous when we’re underdogs so we’ll give it a good go.

“It’s been a pretty unsettled pre-season and not gone how we would ideally have liked. We’ve had a lot on the treatment table and away so we haven’t been able to build any rhythm.

“Although we’re not ready, at least we have better numbers now, but there will be a few lads entering the season short of minutes which they’ll have to accumulate quite quickly. 

“But, I’ve missed the league games, I’m looking forward to getting back to competitive games and that matchday feel.”

Portishead have also experienced mixed fortunes in pre-season, losing 2-0 to Chepstow Town, 2-1 to Longwell Green and 4-2 to Clevedon United, but they beat Sharpness (2-1) and Avonmouth (1-0) before ending preparations at Olveston last night (Tuesday).

Portishead Town manager Eamonn Daly, right, with coach Adam Venton, left.

Portishead Town manager Eamonn Daly, right, with coach Adam Venton, left. - Credit: Josh Thomas

Manager Eamonn Daly said: “(We are) very much looking forward to Saturday and getting back to the real business of competitive games.

“FC Bristol is a tough opener, we always have close games with each other and I can’t see Saturday being any different.

“It’s the first time in my tenure that we start with a home game, I haven’t given that much thought but it would be great to start with a home victory.

“My aim is to improve on last year’s league position and to continue the development of all players at the club. 

“We have retained all the players I wanted to and I believe consistency is the key to success at this level.”

Nailsea & Tickenham are the only team of the four to boast a 100 per cent record from their pre-season friendlies. 

They have picked up four victories, beating Winscombe and Worle 4-1 as well as claiming a 3-2 win against Clevedon Town and beating Filton Athletic 8-0 before ending their plans for the new season at the Stags last night (Tuesday).

Nailsea & Tickenham co-manager Nic Steadman.

Nailsea & Tickenham co-manager Nic Steadman. - Credit: Josh Thomas

Co-manager Nic Steadman said he is “very pleased” with their display so far and is delighted with how his side have continued their “fine form” from last year’s unbeaten victorious Uhlsport Somerset League Premier Division campaign.

“First and foremost it’s going to be a very tough game, Warminster had a great season last year and I’m sure they are only going to be stronger this season,” he added.

“We will certainly show them the respect they deserve but we are confident in our ability and what we can bring. 

"We are very excited there is a real buzz around the club as you can imagine and we’ve had a positive pre-season so far so we can’t wait to test ourselves at this level.

“(We are) really looking forward to it, I know the chairman, committee and everyone else involved in the club have put in the hours day and night to get everything ready for what is such a big occasion for the town of Nailsea.

“I just hope we can follow up all their hard work with three points to top off what will be a fantastic and exciting day for the club.”