We start our look back at the 2016/17 season by looking at Pre SeasonWith Town managing to maintain their League One status at the end of the 2015/16 season, Manager Micky Mellon set about refreshing the team as they looked to make more of an impact this time around. Town made nine permanent summer signings in total and it was clear from the recruitment that Mellon was looking to bring in experience League One players. Gary Deegan arrived from Southend, Olly Lancashire from Rochdale, Antoni Sarcevic from Fleetwood, Jim O’Brien from Coventry, Adam El-Abd from Bristol City, Joe Riley from Bury and a trio of Port Vale players in Ryan McGivern, Louis Dodds and AJ Leitch-Smith. On paper the signings appeared astute from Town. Dodds and Leitch-Smith had proven themselves as a potent partnership for Vale in the previous campaign, while the likes of Sarcevic and Riley had impressed Town fans when playing for opposition sides.
Town had six games pencilled in for Pre-Season and they got off to a good start with a 2-2 draw against a very strong Wolves side in a behind closed doors match. The first opportunity for Town fans to see the new signings was at the Greenhous Meadow against Cardiff City in mid-July. Cardiff brought a strong side and their Championship class showed as Town were beaten 4-0. However, things got better three days later when Town beat Birmingham City 1-0 with youngster Ethan Jones, who had been offered a professional deal the previous season, getting the only goal of the game on the 84th minute. Another win followed for Town as they comfortably put four past National League Premier side Solihull Moors - Leitch-Smith, Dodds, Sarcevic and Whalley scoring the goals in the first half.
Things however didn’t work out quite as well in Town’s final two pre-season games. Some of the young professionals within Micky Mellon’s squad were given a run out at Stourbridge, but Town were beaten 2-0 at the War Memorial Athletic Ground. The final game of pre-season saw Scottish side Hibernian visit the Greenhous Meadow on the club’s annual open day. Former Town hitman Grant Holt was in the Hibs side and he scored as the Edinburgh based side won 4-1 with Jim O’Brien getting Town’s only goal of the game.