St Neots Town management target Southern League silverware in the Red Insure Cup
19:14 01 April 2014
St Neots Town’s management team are hoping to pull off a unique double at The Cozy Stadium on Tuesday (April 8).
Joint managers Gary King and Zema Abbey, plus assistant manager Nathan Abbey, won the Red Insure Southern League Cup with Arlesey Town last season – and, as the men in charge of St Neots these days, the trio have one hand – or maybe that’s three hands? – on the same trophy again this time around.
It’s rare for the final of a cup competition to be played over two legs, but the Saints will take on Division One South & West team Tiverton Town next week with home advantage theirs following a first leg 0-0 draw in Devon on March 18.
“I think we have a fantastic opportunity to win it for the second year on the trot,” said King. “That would personally be a great achievement for us but more importantly it would be about us delivering the first piece of silverware in our tenure at St Neots.
“Moving forward, it has to become part of the players’ mindsets that delivering silverware is why we are here. Ultimately, that’s what we are doing this for.
“So it would be a great head start moving into next season and it would be a kind of statement to everyone else that in our first season we have delivered and that’s what we intend to carry on doing.”
The turnaround since King and Zema Abbey took over from Iain Parr has been dramatic. St Neots were in serious danger of relegation from the Southern League Premier when they were appointed at The Cozy Stadium late last year. King had spent a short time as Parr’s assistant and when the job came up, he convinced the Abbey brothers to join him.
Zema was not immediately convinced it was the right move to leave Arlesey and join his former director of football at a new club.
“I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t interested straight away. I’m a guy that doesn’t make a decision overnight and when someone asks you to leave a job there is a lot to think about,” he told The Hunts Post.
“There was a bit of tugging to get me and Nathan here in the first place, but now we are here, as the time goes on you realise that you are in the right place.”
The Abbey brothers have both played league football – Zema as a striker and Nathan as a goalkeeper. They are very much hands-on and take the training sessions. King is hands-off. As a unit they work well that way.
“We have a system that works for us,” said King. “We have worked on that over the years and we concentrate on what we are good at.
“The goal at the end of the day is winning football matches. And that’s what we are doing – so it works.”
On Saturday, Shane Tolley scored both of the goals in their 2-0 at home to promotion chasers Bideford. There have been wobbles – that 5-4 loss away at Frome Town jumps out. But, all in all, the chairman Mike Kearns must be delighted with the way things are working out. The shadow of relegation has been lifted and next season the focus should shift to a tilt at promotion.
For now though, the club is concentrating on Saturday’s tough game at Chesham United and that all-important second leg against Tiverton. Expect a big crowd at The Cozy Stadium on Tuesday, April 8.