Young and hungry Soham eye big improvements
Soham Town Rangers will have a squad packed full of hungry individuals who are determined to prove a point during the upcoming Ryman League Division One North season — that is according to joint-manager Robbie Nightingale.
The Greens finished in an unspectacular 17th position last term, having put just 13 victories on the board from a possible 46
To ensure that significant improvements would be made next time out, succumbing to the temptation of recruiting a number of experienced players would have been an understandable path for Nightingale and his counterpart Dave Theobald to take.
However, the duo have instead primarily swooped for youngsters who have suffered setbacks higher up the pyramid, including Ryan Horne (Cambridge United), Karl Suffee (ex-Chelsea trainee) and Darren Foxley (Dagenham & Redbridge).
They have joined defenders Ashley White (Histon), Lloyd Groves (Godmanchester Rovers) and Gus-Scott Morris (Royston) in agreeing deals at Julius Martin Lane, while striker Robbie Mason has also returned.
It is an approach that Nightingale is confident will benefit both the club and the new recruits ahead of Saturday’s opener at home to Witham Town (3pm).
“We have got together a group of young lads, many of whom have had knockbacks in professional football,” he said.
“It is hard to be discarded at 18 when for the six years before that you have been told you are going to be this or that.
“It shatters dreams and that can be tough to digest.
“The positive for us is that we have now got players with a point to prove. They want to get back into the pro gamme.
“We have assembled a very exciting squad with new players that will compliment those that remain from last year well.”
Life as a Ryman League club started brightly for Soham, who in 2012/13 recorded a commendable seventh-place finish.
Yet, in each of the campaigns that have followed, the Cambridgeshire club have slipped further down the table, culminating in last year when they wrapped up just six points above the relegation zone.
This time around expectations, aided by a run of seven pre-season friendly victories, are that a much more fruitful campaign will be enjoyed.
“It is a competitive league and lots of teams have recruited, but I will be very disappointed if we are not at least in the top 10,” added Nightingale, who has been in charge with Theobald since October 2015.
“How much further we go depends on ourselves and getting a little bit of luck at the right time.
“The start is crucial. Last year the team won just one of their first 12 games.
“When that happens you are immediately on the back-foot, playing catch up all the time.
“This club and the fans deserve better results than last year and hopefully we will provide that.”
He added: “With the players we now have at our disposal, we will look to play a passing brand of football with purpose.”
nAfter the clash with Witham, Soham are also at home on Tuesday evening when Cheshunt will be the visitors (7.45pm).