Newmarket boss’ squad taking shape

RIGHT TRACK: Michael Shinn is close to having the squad he wants at Newmarket
RIGHT TRACK: Michael Shinn is close to having the squad he wants at Newmarket

Player-boss Michael Shinn has said he is ‘slowly’ assembling the squad he wants at Newmarket Town.

It has been a campaign of change for the Jockeys, with a number of players having headed for the exit door in recent months.

Indeed, of the side that started last season’s Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup final defeat to neighbours Mildenhall Town, just two of those featured in Newmarket’s 4-3 win over Ely City last time out (Lewis Whitehead and Jack Watson).

In fact, the Ely starting line-up contained more players that had turned out for Newmarket that day in the shape of James Seymour, Deakan Napier and Jamie Thurlbourne.

There has also been some upheaval off the pitch, with Shinn stepping up from the role of assistant he took on in October 2017 to replace long-serving manager Kevin Grainger (now chairman) at the turn of the year.

But after that come-from-behind triumph over Ely, Shinn believes the squad at his disposal is taking shape.

“A few months ago when we had different personnel in our changing room we would have rolled over (against Ely),” he said.

“We would have lost four or five, without a shadow of a doubt.

“I want players that have got a bit of heart, that do not know when they are beaten and are winners.

“It is really important that we have that culture of winning. Everyone wants to win, whether you are playing or are on the bench.

“That is a big thing — we need to get to a point where we can look at the bench and have players on there that can impact a game.

“Nobody wants to be on the bench, it is horrible. But if we can get their mentality right, so when they are on the bench, they still realise they can influence the game.

“It is slowly coming together now, you can see it in recent performances. We just have to keep building on it.”

Newmarket will look to extend their recent positive run of one defeat in five games when they head to Wroxham on Saturday (3pm).

Ely City were unable to bounce back from their recent loss to Newmarket as they went down 2-1 at Brantham Athletic.

The Robins took the lead during the second half against their fifth-placed opponents when Ollie Brookes headed in from a corner.

However, Brantham hit back through Jack Sibbons and then claimed all three points after Jack Smith fired home six minutes from time.

The result extends Ely’s winless run in the league to six encounters — a sequence that dates back to February 10.

Brady Stone’s 14th-placed side have a tough assignment on their hands on Saturday when they welcome title-chasing Felixstowe & Walton United to the Ellgia Stadium (3pm).

Ely were on the wrong end of a 5-1 scoreline during the reverse fixture in October, with Alex Theobald netting their goal.

The Cambridgeshire outfit are also back in action on Tuesday when they travel to face Saffron Walden Town (7.45pm).

• The Thurlow Nunn League has confirmed that the end of the season has been extended to help clubs complete their fixtures after the recent bad weather.

Ely’s campaign will now end on May 7, at Godmanchester Rovers, while Newmarket conclude at Wivenhoe Town on May 4.