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Barking boss Gardner eager to push on from top-10 finish for play-off spot

PUBLISHED: 17:17 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:17 08 August 2018

Barking's Justin Gardner, Julian Charles and Andre Thomas (pic Terry Gilbert)

Barking's Justin Gardner, Julian Charles and Andre Thomas (pic Terry Gilbert)

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Barking boss Justin Gardner is keen to push on for a play-off position in the Bostik North after a strong debut campaign last time around.

Brendan Ocran hugs Daniel Cheema (pic Terry Gilbert)Brendan Ocran hugs Daniel Cheema (pic Terry Gilbert)

The Blues were promoted into the division a year ago and finished as high as 10th just four places off the play-off places.

Gardner’s side surprised everyone and are looking to do the exact same again, but just go a step further this term.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, I would be wrong and it wouldn’t be in my character to not try and improve on that,” Gardner said.

“Otherwise you just go out on a high really, you say yes you over achieved and then walk away, but our aim is to go even better than last season and push the big clubs as close as we can and try to stay with it right the way to the end.

“I’ve added some experience to the camp and that’s where I feel we were lacking last season.

“Experienced players tend to get the job done a bit more efficiently, so I’m hoping it will have that affect on us this season as well as having some young exciting players.”

The former Aveley manager admits he is pleased with his squad and believes they have all gelled really well during their pre-season matches.

“I’m pleased with the squad I’ve assembled, just one or two positions that I want us to have a bit of cover in,” he added.

“I’ve strengthened over the summer and it’s been a good pre-season for building a solid base and for team bonding.

“I just can’t wait for the real stuff now, all the talking and pre-season is nothing like the real season.”

Gardner did reveal he would have liked to keep a few more of last season’s squad, adding: “I would have liked to keep a few more, one or two decided their future lies elsewhere, whether that’s money or stepping up a level, each to their own.”

But he is pleased to bring in big names including the likes of Daniel Cheema, Brendan Ocran and Joe Bruce.

“To sign a player (Cheema) from Billericay who was probably on equivalent to my budget for the week is a big deal,” he added.

“Both him and Brendan is a mark on the respect that I have in football and what we’re doing at Barking.

“A lot of people were surprised I managed to pull those signings off, but to be honest one of the hardest signings to pull off – and I think it could prove to be a massive signing for us – was bringing in Joe Bruce.”


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