Aveley boss Justin Gardner celebrates a year in charge of the Millers today and his perfect present will be three points tonight.
Gardner’s first game was a 2-1 loss at Mill Field to Wingate & Finchley as the former Bethnal Green United boss battled in vain to keep the club in the Ryman Premier.
But 365 days have passed and the Aveley chief is pleased with the squad he has now assembled, which is currently fifth in the Ryman One North going into the match with Harlow tonight.
“I knew it would be tough when I first took over and it was difficult to get players in at that time,” said Gardner.
“But once we got to pre-season that was when I was able to get the side in that I wanted. It’s a good squad we have got here now and so far it’s been a great season.
“If we finish in the same position that we are in now no-one will want to play us in the play-offs.”
“Only Paul Burnett, skipper Billy Holland and Alfie Kamara remain from the players I bought in for that first game, while Jack Stevenson came in at the end of March and Sheldon Sellears was also about.
“Deep down when I came in I knew there was a lack of quality in the team but I had to work with what I had and build for this season, which has proved to be a good one so far."
Secretary Craig Johnson commented on Justin’s first 12 months in charge, saying: “We appointed Justin with a long term approach in mind. His remit was all about this season, and to use the remaining games he had last season to put a framework in place. To Justin’s credit he has assembled a very good squad of players, who have entertained our fans throughout the season so far. We aim to play with the ball on the floor, and are a force to fear going forward.
“The season so far has been successful, but knowing Justin he will want to finish it in style. Our aim was to be in contention for a play-off position at this time, and we are well on course at this stage to achieve it.”
“Justin still needs to work on his bench behaviour, and I am continually working closely with him as this sometimes detracts the good he is doing with his team, and will hinder his career opportunities moving forward.
“Overall we are very pleased with the last 12 months, and let’s hope we are all congratulating him and his team in 10 weeks’ time.”
So far from 48 league and cup games in charge Gardner has won 25, making a win percentage of 52%.
That includes his opening 13 games with the Millers in the Ryman Premier, where he won just two (15%).
But this season has seen a huge transformation as the Mill Field boss has won 23 of 35 games (66 %).
And fingers crossed he can add another win to that tally by the end of the night!
Congratulations Justin and long may it continue!