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Witton Albion manager Brian Pritchard says this week's new recruits will not be the last
BRIAN Pritchard says he has no choice but to make changes to a team to which he has been loyal for the past two years.
Witton’s early exit from the FA Cup at Ashton last Saturday provided a catalyst for the manager to act, prompted by a performance that promised much only to deliver a sixth defeat in nine games.
Nicky Platt, a silver medal-winner with the British men’s football team at the World University Games in the summer, has been released this week after eight starts at the club.
The former FC United of Manchester midfielder will not be the only one to depart, according to Pritchard.
He said: “To keep saying ‘We were the better team, but...’ isn’t enough.
“We couldn’t get over the line again [at Ashton], which is frustrating as it makes us look like a bad team. We’re not, but certain players – who I’ve been extremely loyal to I might add – are letting themselves down.
“Two years of success on the pitch has raised expectation, I get that, and I don’t think there has been a lack of effort from anybody since the season started.
“But I question the application of those individuals who are slipping below the high standards they’ve set previously.”
He has added former Liverpool Academy midfielder Jonathan Breeze, capped by Northern Ireland at under 21s level, to his squad in place of Platt.
Arriving too is ex-Northwich Victoria striker Chris Luby, who scored 15 times in the Northern Premier League’s Division One North last season between Vics and later play-offs semi finalists New Mills.
Pritchard said: “Both players will give us more energy, which I feel we’ve lacked at times.
“Chris is a hard-working centre forward who claimed some important goals in what was an excellent season for New Mills, while Jon is a neat, tidy midfield player with an excellent pedigree.”
Pritchard admitted he was still upset at Witton’s 2-1 defeat against Ashton, a game in which the visitors created enough chances to progress to the competition’s next stage.
He said: “I was absolutely gutted; it felt like somebody had burgled my house and taken everything away from me. We controlled the game, dominated it even.
“I thought we were the better team throughout the match because we restricted them to so little.
“That said, there were still mistakes made that we need to cut out which is something I hope has been addressed during what have been two productive training sessions this week.
“The players’ response has been good. Our fans shouldn’t doubt the spirit or determination in the group to kick-start our season.
“I don’t expect individuals to play with fear, but they have to take responsibility. The team that has got us this far is in danger of stalling a bit, and I can’t let that happen.”
Despite Luby’s arrival, and the expected return shortly of Neville Thompson after dislocating a shoulder, he told the Guardian that a further attacking reinforcement was a priority.
There could still be at least one more signing, an attacking full back, in time to face AFC Fylde on Tuesday.
“We’re doing everything we can to bring in players who can improve the team,” said Pritchard.
“That process sometimes takes a bit of time, particularly as we want to get it right.”