Flanagan, Clean Sheets & Lack of Funds: Curzon Ashton’s 2018 In Review…

It’s been a frustrating 12 months to be a Curzon Ashton fan!

Curzon lacks the funds that teams at this level increasingly have, here’s looking at you, Salford. And at times that has really shown, especially this season.

A 5-0 thumping away at Harrogate rounded off the 2017/2018 season for the Nash, but they had done enough to stay in the National League North, despite it looking shaky at the start of the year.

Summer friendly’s saw them take on the likes of Premiership strugglers, Burnley, and while Burnley were not starting superstars (does Burnley have any superstars? That’s a whole other article) the Nash were not disgraced and played well in the first half before likely fitness got the better of the semi-pros. But there would be plenty of encouragement to take from that performance.

The season started well with a win over Darlington away.

However, this year and more-so this season has been heavily influenced by the Nash’s seeming inability to keep a clean sheet. Despite taking on some defensive academy players from Stoke they remain struggling in this area. The really could have beaten York, Southport and Kidderminster (twice!) but on two occasions drew. This is 8 points that have been completely thrown away and is a vital part of their game they need to improve to avoid the drop into the Northern Premier.

Perhaps Curzon’s heavy reliance on young upstarts rather than experienced ex-league players is getting the better of them at times, but they may simply not have the funds to attract these players, and are completing with Hyde, Stalybridge and Ashton United in Tameside alone, not considering Salford, FC United, Altrincham, Stockport and so on in the greater Manchester area at this level.

The concentration of clubs makes getting players there a competitive aspect that smaller, less well-funded clubs are going to struggle with.

The elephant in the room of Curzon’s year was the dismissal of the enormously popular and well regarded John Flanagan. Tweets from the former manager himself suggest this was not an amicable split and I can only imagine the atmosphere in the dressing room has been tainted. I myself was a huge fan of John Flanagan but I am also not enjoying seeing Mark Bradshaw struggling for results, and I hope that dressing room issues are not the cause for this.

It’s been a frustrating year for fans of The Nash, and currently, we end the year with them sitting in a precarious position. However it was similar 12 months ago and they survived, which really has to be the main aim here. The NPL is notoriously hard to get out of with only one automatic promotion spot, and sliding down to that needs to be avoided at all costs.

Here’s hoping the Nash can get 2019 off to a good start with a win over local rivals Ashton United.

For those not familiar with Ashton United’s ground it is something out of your non-league dreams, and the sort which is fast dying out. If your hangover allows you – I’d strongly recommend getting to this game.