Whitehead ready to ignite Newmarket’s new era

FIT AND FIRING: Lewis Whitehead. Picture: Phil Chaplin
FIT AND FIRING: Lewis Whitehead. Picture: Phil Chaplin

By his own admission, this season has been a frustrating one for Newmarket Town marksman Lewis Whitehead.

A knee complaint forced the striker, who scored 34 goals in all competitions last term, to take up an eight-week watching brief as the Jockeys’ promotion bid unravelled at the seams towards the back end of 2017.

He is back fit and firing now, though, having found the net three times in his last two outings.

And with the club under new management after Michael Shinn stepped up to replace the long-serving Kevin Grainger last month, Whitehead is looking to play a leading role as the club looks to the future.

“It has been a disappointing season, both for the team and myself,” he said.

“I could not shake off the injury and for the first three or four weeks I was back it was a struggle. We were short of players and I was having to play 90 minutes all the time.

“The last three weeks or so have been better. I have felt sharp and hopefully that is showing in my performances.

“We know we have massively underachieved as a group this year. We have a good squad and we expected to be up there challenging.

“It has just been one of those seasons — players leaving, injuries and a bit of bad luck.

“You can see now we are starting to come together as a group and we are stringing some good results together.

“It is a shame Kev could not see the season out — he deserved that and the lads were keen for him to do it.

“We have another good manager in charge though. His experience is key and there is a bright future.

“It is now about making sure we finish the season strongly and look forward to next season.”

A number of players have departed the Bloorie.com Stadium over the course of the campaign, and Whitehead has had offers to follow suit.

However, the former Great Shelford and Ely City forward opted to stay put.

“I had a lot of offers at the start of the season and more as it has gone on, but I committed to Newmarket for the entire season,” he added.

“I wanted to win something with Newmarket this year and while that does not look like happening now, something would have to go drastically wrong for me to move.

“There is no reason to leave. I have been back here a couple of years now, but it feels like longer — I know the place really well.

“Every player wants to play as high as they can and I am no different. It would be great to do that with Newmarket.

“The plan was to get promotion with Newmarket this year, but that has just been put back 12 months.”