Manager: ‘Jockeys have to be aiming for promotion’

HIGH HOPES: Newmarket Town boss Kevin Grainger
HIGH HOPES: Newmarket Town boss Kevin Grainger

Kevin Grainger has conceded it would be considered ‘a failure’ if his side fell short in their bid for Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division promotion this season.

The Jockeys enjoyed a positive 2016/17 campaign, finishing in third position and reaching the final of the League Challenge Cup.

However, having had an active summer in terms of recruitment, and with two sides potentially earning promotion up to Step Four this term, Grainger believes his side must have even higher aspirations.

“With the money some clubs are spending and players of big experience dropping down to this level, it is going to be a tough league this year,” he said.

“But I have a strong squad and when you think of what we did last year, it might be seen as a failure if we are not in the top two.

“I am happy with what I have and I feel that if we are struck by injuries like we were last year, this time we are covered.

The signing of Stephen Spriggs — a scorer of 24 goals for champions Mildenhall Town last season — is the headline of the seven arrivals at The Ridgeons Stadium.

However, scoring goals was not an issue for The Jockeys, who fired in 122 in just 40 league outings.

The problem came at the other end of the pitch, where Grainger’s men shipped a hefty 70 goals.

The boss, though, believes that the additions of defenders Lloyd Groves and Jordan Lambert — coupled with a slight tweak in style — will help to greatly reduce the goals against tally.

“It is no secret that we conceded too many goals, but that has hopefully been addressed,” added Grainger.

“Lloyd and Jordan are very good defenders that will help to tighten us up.

“But it comes down to the whole team, not just the defence.

“We were too attack-minded at times last season, so we need to manage games better.

“We still want to score goals and play good football, but there has to be a balance.”

Before the league season gets under way at home to Fakenham on Tuesday (7.45pm), Great Wakering Rovers will be Newmarket’s visitors on Saturday in the Extra Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup (3pm).

“Great Wakering are a good side and it is not an easy game, but at least we are at home,” said Grainger.

“We want to go at least a couple of rounds in the competition to help the club financially.”