CHELMSFORD City skipper David Rainford claims it’s important not to dwell on the team narrowly missing out on the Blue Square Bet South play-offs, and he’s pointed towards the side’s exciting brood of younger players as a reason to gather momentum for another push towards the Conference National in 2012/13.
The Clarets were dislodged from the top five by Basingstoke Town in the last week of a campaign where Glenn Pennyfather’s squad had previously looked odds-on for a place in the end-of-season matches.
An inconsistent final third meant City didn’t make their fourth straight attempt at elevation via those knockout fixtures but, while Rainford believes it’s crucial to learn from that experience, he thinks it’s equally important to move on from it.
“We’ve been in the top five for so long, so to be out of it in the last week of the season was a bitter blow,” he said.
“It’s normal that you spend a certain amount of time reflecting, and just over a week after the Woking game we’re still analysing our mistakes because that’s how you improve.
“There’s no hiding that we’ve not been good enough at Melbourne.”
“Once you’ve studied the year, you’ve got to start straight away on strengthening yourselves for the next, and I’m sure Glenn and the management team won’t have taken long before focussing on our next challenge.
“It’s hard to guarantee promotion but we try to be in the mix.
“We’re Chelmsford City, and we’re always associated with the top end of the table.”
Boss Pennyfather spent last week mulling over which players to keep hold of, and he had one-to-one meetings with each to determine personal and team targets for next season.
“He’s stated his desire to keep the base of the team settled, with many already secured on contracts while other will be retained in accordance with football rules on fledgling talent.
“It’s a good move from the club to get all the young players back on board again,” continued Rainford.
“In my four enjoyable seasons at City I’m the leading appearance maker – but we need more like that so people can get an affinity with the club.
“The turnover during previous seasons has been too much and there’s a need for a successful squad to bed in.
“Dartford have been successful this year after only adding one or two signings to an existing team.
“We’ve got a lot of our own prospects – like Kenny Clark, who’s a double Player of the Year, Max Cornhill’s stepped up from Ryman Division One and fitted right in and Sam Corcoran’s acclimatised from reserve team football at Colchester United to the Conference South.
“They’ve all had their first year at this level and have seen what’s required.”
Rainford has been a stalwart in the club’s side for several campaigns and he’s able to recall countless memories to date, including the FA Cup run this season which saw the Clarets overcome higher-ranked opposition to come minutes away from a possible meeting with Premier League club Bolton Wanderers.
Pennyfather’s men eventually fell to npower Football League Two outfit Macclesfield Town after a televised replay.
David said: “We all know about the size of the club in Chelmsford and the amount of potential we have, but a cup run really sends out that message outside our local area.
“Make no bones about it, we wanted to do better in the league, but some clubs go 20 or 30 years without a good cup run and we’ve got to the Second Round Proper in consecutive seasons.”
He’s also aware of the need to regroup and improve on their league performance, adding: “There’s a lot we can take from the campaign, like going to champions Woking and playing them off the park at their place.
“The challenge now is to replicate what they’ve done and to show what we can do, and if we continue to bed our team down we’ll be going in the right direction.”