(Picture: Simon Marshall)
By Matt Badcock
RYAN CROASDALE thinks Kidderminster Harriers have put last season’s play-off disappointment firmly behind them and are ready to push back into the promotion mix.
Kiddy finished second in the National League North, but saw their bid for a swift return to Step 1 ended in the play-off semi-finals by Chorley.
Manager John Eustace saw a number of players move on in the summer, although he has brought in title winning experience from?AFC?Fylde in midfielder Dan Bradley.
England C midfielder Croasdale was one of their campaign’s stand-out performers and earned him international recognition.
Now the 23-year-old says the new faces have settled in and they’re determined to forge ahead after a mixed start to the new season.
“We’ve been a bit up and down, had a few changes off the field as well, so it’s been tough but the squad we’ve got now seems to be gelling together,” Croasdale told The NLP.
“We lost a lot of players – three out of the back four moved on – so we had to bring new faces in, but we’re aiming to get promotion, that’s what we want to do.
“We need to be a bit patient, but we’ve all got the same ambition and once you get on a good run and put some results together you’re right in it.
“It’s a tough league. It seems a bit different to last year. Any of the top ten teams could go up. It’s relentless. But we all want the same thing – the fans, the chairman, the manager, and the players. Hopefully we can push on and pick up those points.”
The former Sheffield Wednesday youngster has been handed the captaincy this season and he’s enjoying the responsibility.
“I’ve had a few personal things off the pitch that meant I missed a few games so I’ve been a bit stop-start so far,” he said.
“But I’m getting back into it, things are settling down at home, which is good.
“It’s an important season for me. I’ve been given the captaincy as well so I’ve got to lead the lads. I’m only 23 myself and it’s a responsibility to lead a club like Kidderminster. We’ve got a few older heads in the side, who can also help me, so hopefully we can push forward.”
And with boss Eustace – who played in the Championship for Watord and Derby County – constantly in his ear, he thinks he’s in the perfect place to improve.
“The manager is a big influence on me,” Croasdale said.
“He played in the same position as me when he was a player so he’s always pulling me – he’s a bit of a perfectionist on my performances!
“But that’s good for me, because I set a benchmark last season and I need to go beyond that this year.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper, which is available every Sunday.