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From relegation battlers to play-off hopefuls

HIGH HOPES: Robbie Mason
HIGH HOPES: Robbie Mason

His side may have required their own version of ‘The Great Escape’ last season, but Robbie Mason is confident his Soham Town Rangers side has the quality to be battling for a play-off place this time around.

A raft of mid-season player exits — many of whom joined former boss Robbie Nightingale at Cambridge City — appeared to have consigned The Greens to a return to Thurlow Nunn League football.

But they rallied late on, culminating in a dramatic final-day 4-3 victory over Maldon & Tiptree which rubber-stamped their Bostik League Division One North status for 2017/18.

The goalscoring heroes from that day — Sam Mulready and Lloyd Groves — have since moved on to pastures new, as have other key players, including goalkeeper Niall Conroy.

But, with a squad armed full of fresh faces, player-manager Mason believes his team will be battling towards the top end of the table.

“I would be disappointed if we do not finish in the top 10, but the play-offs should not be out of reach either, especially with the potential of one extra place opening up,” he said.

“There is no way I would be doing this job if I did not have the belief in the players.

“We are a good team, packed full of players with quality that want to win.

“It is going to be a tough league — there are some big teams in there, but I would like to think we can match up with anyone on our day.

“There will not be many people expecting us to be up there, so hopefully we surprise them.”

Mason remains signed on as a player, but having bolstered his attacking ranks this summer, he is hoping to take up more of a watching brief.

Marcus Hall and James Tricks both found the net in Saturday’s impressive 4-1 win friendly win over Chasetown, while Matt Allan — a scorer of 12 goals for Histon last season — has also arrived.

“We have got in some good forwards now, so hopefully I can take more of a back seat,” said Mason, whose side open up on Saturday away at AFC Hornchurch (3pm) before hosting Norwich United on Tuesday (7.45pm).

“I will still keep myself ticking over with training, but I am starting to find my legs will not do want my brain is telling them.

“Marcus has been sharp since he came in, while James has held the ball up well and battled well. And Matty could have a big season for us. Defenders at this level do not mind battling, but they do not like being fronted up by pace and Matty will do that.”

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