Kevin Grainger bid farewell to the grass pitch at Cricket Field Road as his Newmarket Town side played their last home game of the season at the weekend.
A 3G pitch will be installed at the club’s home ahead of the start of the 2016-17 campaign, with Grainger’s men completing their home fixtures with a dramatic 3-2 defeat to Haverhill Rovers on Saturday.
Deakan Napier netted twice for the Jockeys, with his first-half penalty giving them the lead before a free-kick from 25 yards out got them back on level terms at 2-2 midway through the second-half.
However, in added time Paul Betson gave away a penalty for handball, which Marcus Hunt converted to give Rovers all three points.
Grainger fielded no fewer than six players from the club’s under-18s in Newmarket’s starting line-up on Saturday, and expects to keep them involved when they visit Haverhill tomorrow (7.45pm).
“We will have more senior players available but the young lads are still going to be involved,” said the Jockeys boss, who will have Jake Wayne, Mark Webster, Richard Chadwick, Ollie Snaith and Jamie Thurlbourne all available for this weekend.
“It doesn’t matter if we finish the season fifth or 15th because we can’t win anything.
“We’re building a new team for next season, so for the players they have a lot to play for if they want to be playing on the 3G pitch.
“The young-uns will get another opportunity to go and put in another good performance. Alfie Ball, Ally Conway and Josh Parnell all did very well on Saturday.”
One win from their last nine games has seen the Jockeys slip down to 12th in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table, but Grainger has accepted the reason for their recent decline.
“It’s been hard for me and Kevin (Parsons, assistant manager) to see us drop down the table,” he said.
“But there are reasons for it and we accept that. The money we’ve saved on the budget will help us next season.
“Everything is positive. We’re going to have a great playing surface next season and for the youth system it’s going to help them so much.
“There’s a little hardship at the moment with the first team results but you’ve got to take the positives.”
Newmarket have lined up a lucrative pre-season friendly with Sky Bet League Two side Cambridge United for the opening of their 3G pitch in the summer, with Grainger excited at the opportunities the new facilities at Cricket Field Road will bring to the club.
Grainger said: “I stood after the game and had a look at the pitch and thought ‘I’m glad you’re going!’
“We’ve had some great times on it but we’re getting a level pitch, and with the 3G no games will be called off.”
n Newmarket Town Reserves will play the final game on the grass pitch at Cricket Field Road when they host Whitton United Reserves this Saturday (3pm).
The Thurlow Nunn Reserve League clash will mark the last action on the current surface before work starts at the ground on Monday.
n Newmarket Town Ladies have appointed Luke Worley as their new head coach.
Shane Lebbon’s side have also completed the signings of Nadine Basson, Eloise Hope and Honor Freeman.