Lockdown timing is not ideal for new Harborough Town boss Mitch

Mitch Austin oversaw a victory in his first game in charge of the Bees
New Harborough Town manager Mitch Austin. Picture by Peter ShortNew Harborough Town manager Mitch Austin. Picture by Peter Short
New Harborough Town manager Mitch Austin. Picture by Peter Short

The timing of the new national lockdown couldn’t not have been much worse for new Harborough Town boss Mitch Austin.

The former Kettering Town assistant-manager, who had been in a similar role at Southern League Premier Central side St Ives Town this season, was appointed as Stuart Spencer’s successor at the end of last week.

He took charge of the team for the first time on Saturday and they duly delivered a 1-0 victory at Holbeach United with Dan Forbes’ first-half goal proving decisive.

However, any hopes of getting his feet under the table quickly have now been dashed with the United Counties League, like others at grassroots level, now being paused for at least the next four weeks due to the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

And while that is a cause for frustration, Austin knows there is a bigger picture to look at although he does have concerns about how the game will restart should leagues be given the green light on December 2.

“It was key for me to see what I have got to work with,” the new Harborough boss said.

“I am not interested in making immediate changes and I think the lads showed me on Saturday that there is a great group there but maybe mindsets need to be changed a little bit.

“But it’s so hard to predict anything now. You could be asking players to do two 5km runs a week but it’s not football training.

“If we have four weeks off then that will be four weeks without kicking a ball.

“So there is a concern in my mind that they might say we can be back in four weeks but if we have done no training, what state are we going to be in as a team?

“The bigger issue is that, as a country, we do what’s best and if this is what’s best then we need to make sure we stick to the rules.”

Austin, meanwhile, insists the ambition of Harborough was key in his decision to step down a couple of levels to take on the job.

“It is an ambitious club and that’s what I want to be part of,” he added.

“The offer was made and I have a really strong relationship with Ricky Marheineke at St Ives and it was alway going to take a lot to make me move.

“But Harborough’s desire to do better matched mine and I feel very lucky to be manager of this club.”

Lutterworth Town go into the lockdown in impressive shape as they sit in second place in the UCL Premier Division after Tendai Daire’s hat-trick helped them claim a comfortable 5-0 victory at struggling Pinchbeck United last weekend.

Lutterworth Athletic signed off for the lockdown with a 3-2 home success over St Andrews in Division One on Tuesday night.

Barnes Gladman scored twice and Jes Adcock’s struck his ninth of the season from the penalty spot to secure the points as Athletic bounced back from their 3-1 defeat to Raunds Town last weekend.