Ripley hoping for a return to action as they aim to extend run

It’s been a funny old season so far for Ripley Town but manager Paul Lavender feels a successful second half of the campaign is in store - if the weather relents and allows his side to get back on the pitch.

Ripley made a underwhelming start to the Midlands Regional Alliance Division One campaign but a turnaround in form saw them go from bottom to joint top of the league in just seven weeks.

Since then, the weather has prevented them from playing for over a month but they are still very handily placed for a promotion push.

Paul Lavender explained: “We had a decent season last season but were hampered by eight weeks in the middle without a game due to the weather and never really got going after that.

“We played well in the Stan Brewster Tournament in the summer but that put one or two in the shop window and they went to higher clubs after impressing in that tournament.

“At the start of this season, we were having problems getting 11 players out and after the first five games I wondered where the first point was going to come from but I brought in James Dennis as player/coach and a few players came in with him, and it’s been going really well.

“We had eight straight wins in all competitions and as more players have been coming in, we’ve got a strong squad now, as strong as any in this league, I feel.

“The main concern now is that I’ve got three left-sided players out, two for the season, plus centre half Matt Crews is injured and Craig Riley is away for a couple of weeks, so we’ll have a look at the strength in depth in the squad.

“The other concern is the weather. We haven’t played since December 14 and the pitch is a bit of an issue too. There’s a hole in it that we keep having to look at but we hope that will be addressed.

“The difference this year is that, although we haven’t played for over a month, whenever a game is called off, we are training on the same day and getting good attendance at those sessions, so that’s encouraging.

“We’ve got a committed bunch of good local lads here and once we start playing again it bodes well for the rest of the season.

“We can’t wait to get going again and keep the good run going.”

This Saturday, Ripley Town have a tough Junior Cup quarter final tie away to Rowsley Reserves with the game getting under way at 1.15pm.