FORMER Burton Albion defender Ryan Austin has been put in caretaker charge of Kidsgrove Athletic after the management team of Pete Ward and Ant Buckle stepped down.
Grove made some impressive summer signings after a budget increase but they have picked up just one point from their opening four games in the Evo-Stik NPL Division One South.
The club had targeted a play-off spot after their 15th place finish last term but boss Ward and assistant Buckle were replaced on Wednesday after a slow start to the campaign.
Ward returned to Kidsgrove in October 2014 for his third spell in charge of the club while Buckle, also a former Grove manager, re-joined as assistant to Ward.
The pair have been replaced by Austin, who was a summer signing from Brackley Town, but it is hoped they will remain at the club in other roles.
A club statement read: “Kidsgrove Athletic would like to announce the appointment of a new caretaker manager. Ryan Austin, currently playing in the first team has been named to take the club forward as player-manager.
“Ryan comes with a wealth of playing experience and now wants to assist Kidsgrove Athletic in its aspirations to finish this season as play-off contenders as a minimum.
“Kidsgrove Athletic looks to utilise the services of both Pete Ward and Ant Buckle within the club and remain key to its future aspirations.
“All directors are hugely grateful for the time and effort both Pete and Ant have put in and their on-going support to the future management.”