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Newark Town manager Luke Parsons reflects on season as his side await decision regarding promotion

Luke Parsons and his Newark Town players have been left to speculate on their promotion chances after silence from the Central Midlands League.

The Blues sit top of the North Division, 11 points clear of title rivals Dinnington Town, however, Town have played five more fixtures.

The fixture gap adds even more confusion to an already unprecedented situation, but Parsons is hopeful his team will earn promotion, despite the league’s silence on a final decision.

LEFT: Players Nathan Burrows and Matt Stevens, manager Luke Parsons, former joint-manager Damo Parkinson and striker Lewis Chambers.
LEFT: Players Nathan Burrows and Matt Stevens, manager Luke Parsons, former joint-manager Damo Parkinson and striker Lewis Chambers.

“It is hard to speculate what will happen in the Premier League, never mind the divisions at our end,” he said.

“I believe you cannot promote Dinnington without us because we have the points on the board, and you cannot assume they would win their games.

“At this level, you have people who play other sports and work and, even if we were to return in the summer, I can’t see how the season would finish.”

A popular theory surrounding the non-league steps is a points-per-game system, which Dinnington have the upper hand on.

Further problems could yet be introduced as the FA had planned to re-structure the non-league system.

With it being a time of uncertainty on and off the pitch, Parsons reflected on the season — so far — with delight.

“We have had a few games where we know we have let ourselves down, but taking the season as a whole, we have been fantastic,” he said.

“To get two games from the end and still be unbeaten is a great achievement and something that the lads should be proud of. It is just a shame that it is up in the air as to whether we will be able to finish it or not.

“The lads can hold their heads up proud knowing they are top, as things stand, and we will see whether or not we get the promotion we deserve.”

The 2019-20 season was Parsons first year in management and, after the departure of previous joint-manager Damo Parkinson part-way through the season, he was handed more responsibility, with assistance from former Blues boss Tony Joynes.

He said the highlight of the season, up until now, was playing against Notts County in front of 752 spectators in the Notts Senior Cup.

Newark Town vs Notts County. (30288965)
Newark Town vs Notts County. (30288965)

“It was incredible and it really showed the transformation of the club over the past year,” he said.

“On a personal note, coming on board with no experience in management and, with Tony, putting together a good competitive squad, which is good enough for the standard (league) above was some achievement.

“We have shown that hard work and determination proves that you don’t always need the qualifications.”

Aware the badges carry weight, Parsons said he was looking to complete his FA level one this summer.

Town were slumped at the bottom of the division last Christmas under different management, but a late resurgence under Parkinson, who was then joined at the helm by Parsons in the summer preseason has seen the club bury its previous reputation as strugglers.

“You can get people who are ambitious, but it was the way we came in and backed it up,” said Parsons.

“A big part of that was getting the backroom staff in.

“We had a goalkeeping coach, we introduced Sam Hickery (fitness coach) a physio (Ollie Beall) came in and all of sudden we had the staff we needed, which is always a bonus when trying to attract players.

“Nathan Burrows (Town’s goalkeeper, who has previously played for Flowserve) had never worked with a goalkeeping coach one-on-one before and because of that he didn’t miss one session.

“When you start getting players in like that, and they started enjoying it, then it gets better.

“The Lincoln United game in preseason was a big game, we lost 3-2, but we gave a really good account of ourselves.

“We got people like (Craig) Bridge interested and, of course it helped that I got on with players like Rhys Lewis and Steve Carty, who dropped down leagues to play, but we all had smiles on our faces and it came around from that.”

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