NON-LEAGUE PREVIEW: Godmanchester Rovers boss reckons he has a squad capable of winning promotion

Godmanchester Rovers manager Ollie Drake.

Godmanchester Rovers manager Ollie Drake. - Credit: Archant

Could it finally be Godmanchester Rovers’ year? Boss Ollie Drake certainly hopes so . . .

Drake is gearing up for his second season at the David Wilson Homes Ground helm and he is determined to ensure it is better than the first.

That won’t be an easy task, though. He guided Rovers to fourth place in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division with a mammoth haul of 95 points in the 2017/18 campaign.

That tally would have been enough to win titles elsewhere, but not in this section where three sides – champions Coggeshall, runners-up Felixstowe and Walton, and third-placed Stowmarket – all went through the century barrier.

Rovers, who were also runners-up at this level in successive 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, kick off the new campaign when hosting Wroxham this Saturday.

“Bettering our fourth place last season is the target,” said Drake. “If we do that, we’ll be in with a great chance of challenging for the title and promotion.

“I feel the squad is capable of doing that. We’ve kept an excellent group together and made a couple of very pleasing signings.

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“Stowmarket are clearly going to be very strong again while I’m sure Histon will also be up there. They have a great guy in Lance Key as manager.

“Norwich United are back in the league as well after being relegated last season. They won the title both the seasons in which Goddy were runners-up and I’m sure they won’t just be making the numbers up.

“I expect there will be a few surprise packages as well with Wroxham, who we face on Saturday, potentially among them.”

Goalkeeper Niall Conroy is back at Rovers after being their number one for the two runners-up finishes. Conroy, who was at Cambridge City and Haverhill Borough last term, replaces Phil Peachey as number one.

Midfielder Buster Harradine is the other arrival. He joins from Premier Division rivals Newmarket Town, but he has played extensively at higher-levels in the past with Cambridge City and St Ives Town.

A couple more additions could follow in the coming days with Drake admitting he has been concerned by the availability of players during a difficult pre-season.

While Rovers have won all four of their friendlies - including a 5-1 drubbing of Cambridge City on Tuesday - and scored 23 goals in the process, the boss admits it hasn’t been a smooth summer.

He added: “Availability has been poor – I can’t pretend otherwise – and that has caused some problems.

“We had to pull out of a couple of friendlies due to not being able to field a team and we’ve not had the continuity that comes from working regularly together.

“We have played at a high intensity and scored plenty of goals in the games that did take place – admittedly against teams from lower levels - and hopefully we’re not under-cooked. We’ll find out on Saturday . . .”