FORMER Dudley Town boss Andy Wyton is facing the biggest challenge of his fledgling managerial career - keeping Gornal Athletic in the Midland Alliance.

The 39-year-old, who ended his two-year tenure at The Dell last Monday, took over at the Garden Walk Stadium on Thursday where Matt Price recently vacated the hotseat. Price was the second manager of the season following Brian Knight’s departure early on in a troubled campaign.

He then made the best possible start as Athletic climbed off the bottom with a surprise 2-1 defeat of Loughborough University, the club’s first home win for almost 10 months.

Goals from former Dudley men Drenz Bala (2) and Ross Love were enough for a 3-1 win and Wyton, speaking ahead of last night’s crunch meeting with bottom club Continental Star, said having familiar faces around was a major plus.

“I believe there are 14 players here who I had at Dudley but I must point out they signed on dual registration before there was any thought of me coming here.

“I had no intention of leaving Dudley until at least the end of the season, but when this challenge came along I couldn’t turn it down.

“It was a chance to manage at a higher level in the Alliance with the challenge of keeping Gornal up.

“I like to think we took Dudley forward, they were bottom when I took over and we finished seventh then finished sixth last season with a record points total for Dudley.”

Wyton played nine of his ex-Dudley players against Loughborough on Saturday and he said: “Having players there I could trust helped so I was happy to go with what I know. “But there is still a chance for the lads who were at Gornal when I came here and we had 33 turn up for my first training session.

“I’ve targeted seven wins from the last 16 games but I think 16 points might even be enough.

“I think I can keep the club up and I don’t want to even think about going down, I don’t want that on my CV.

“But if it should happen I’ll be here next season to try to get them back up.”

Gornal have enjoyed good times of late with a run to the latter stages of the FA Vase and a third place finish under Ian Rowe last season.

“There are still expectations as a club,” said Wyton. “But the set up is right or I wouldn’t have come. It’s a proper footballing place.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity of getting my teeth into it.”

Wyton is joined at Gornal by assistant Jason Tonks while John Purdie is joining the coaching staff from fellow Midland Alliance side, Stourport Swifts.