Hurst, Marheineke and Hall look ahead to season curtain-raisers

THE 2011/12 football season kicks off on Saturday and Godmanchester Rovers, Huntingdon Town and St Ives Town are all hoping to hit the ground running.

Winning promotion from Ridgeons League Division One is the aim for Godmanchester but, with only two promotion places up for grabs this season - as opposed the normal three - getting a flying start will be key.

Rovers, who finished in a disappointing ninth spot in Division One last season, open their campaign at home against Debenham LC on Saturday.

Manager David Hurst said: "We want promotion but, with now only two spots available, it'll be more difficult.

"We know we need a good start. The players are aware that the emphasis is very much on achieving that.

"Last year we started poorly and were playing catch up.

"So we want to be up around the top two after the first six games and remain there for the rest of the season - that's our aim."

Rovers were set to host CRC last night in their final pre-season game, while two goals from striker Paul Bass guided them to a 2-0 win at Rushden & Higham on Saturday.

Last Tuesday, Goddy drew 0-0 with Biggleswade United at Bearscroft Lane.

Huntingdon Town start their new United Counties League Division One campaign at Rothwell Corinthians on Saturday.

After taking over in February, manager Ricky Marheineke took Town from second bottom in the table up to their final position of fifth.

And, with the added pressure of starting the season as Division One title favourites, they will be looking to carry on where they left off last term.

Marheineke said: "We've improved and have got a very good squad of players.

"They've raised their own bar with the way they finished last season, my expectations levels have gone up - as have peoples within the club.

"On Saturday, we've just got to make sure we're ready for that challenge."

Huntingdon rounded off their pre-season campaign with a 3-1 defeat at home against CRC on Saturday, Dan Drane getting the Town goal.

Last Tuesday night, Drane and fellow striker James Peters scored in a 2-2 draw at Stewarts & Lloyds Corby.

Peters is one of three extra players that Marheineke has added to his squad this week, with winger Dan Moyes joining the club from St Ives Town and Declan Rodgers arriving from Cambridge City.

Moyes' old club St Ives begin their UCL Premier campaign against Long Buckby at Westwood Road on Saturday.

Ives will be looking to improve on last season's 11th placed finish and joint-boss Jez Hall is aiming high.

He said: "We're going into the opener nice and confident against one of the better sides in the league first up.

"We want be right up there but the league is improving every season, as are club's budgets and it gets tougher.

"King's Lynn will obviously be clear favourites to win the league, but then there will be eight or nine sides who feel they have a shout at second spot - and we're one of them."

On Saturday, Stuart Cobb got the goal as St Ives rounded off their preparations with a 1-0 win at Evo-Stik Northern League Division One South side Quorn.

Last Tuesday night, a brace from Stuart Cobb alongside efforts from Guy Last, Ozie Foster, James Hall and Lee Ellison fired St Ives to an impressive 6-2 home win over Mildenhall Town.

Meanwhile club captain Ellison, along with Foster and Dan Newman, have all put pen to paper for the coming season.

David Cobb, who only left to join St Neots Town in the summer, has re-joined on a dual registration with Soham Town Rangers.