Newmarket Town primed for assault on top six, says manager Michael Shinn
Following an impressive summer of recruitment, Newmarket Town manager Michael Shinn is targeting a top six finish and a cup run or two in 2019/20.
Twelve months ago Shinn put together a young and largely inexperienced squad.
Results, predictably, were inconsistent as the Jockeys ended up halfway in a 20-team Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division final table.
The majority of that squad remain in situ, and they have been joined by players with a wealth of experience.
Defender Joe Robinson – with one senior Ipswich Town appearance to his name – is the headline addition, while Mark Lovell, James Seymour and Ross Paterson were all playing Step 4 football last term.
The versatile Scott Paterson, meanwhile, has returned to the club after spending a year out of the game.
The proof will ultimately be on the pitch over the coming months, but ahead of Saturday’s opener at Stanway Rovers (3pm) and Tuesday’s home clash with Long Melford (7.45pm), a bright campaign appears to be in the offing.
“On paper we have recruited well and we landed all bar one or two of our targets,” said Shinn, who has been Newmarket boss since January 2018. "We are in a better position than this time last year. That pre-season was a bit of a slow burner and it was tough to get players in.
“It has been different this time around, and while it is difficult to gauge where you are at in pre-season, the desire from the boys to work hard has been fantastic.
“We have moved things forward off the pitch recently, now we have to get it right on the pitch.
“We want to be going deep into cup competitions like the League Cup and the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. And it would also be great to go a few rounds in the FA Cup and Vase.
“It is always tough to set targets for the league because so much can happen to change things, but with the standard of player we have got in the squad, thinking top six is not too outrageous.”
While Shinn believes those to be realistic ambitions, he is also under no illusions as to how tough it will be to achieve.
Indeed, the former Dartford midfielder believes that the Premier Division is the strongest he has known it since taking charge of Haverhill Rovers in 2014.
“Everyone has strengthened this season, not just us at Newmarket,” he added. “Every game is difficult and there are no teams in the division any more that provide an easy six points.
“This is the strongest the league has been since I went to Haverhill.
“Even when I was at West Wratting after that I kept an eye on the Thurlow Nunn, and the quality of player and money being spent is higher than ever.
“It is similar a level to when I was at Sudbury in the Ryman One North eight to 10 years ago.”
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More by this authorLiam Apicella