St Neots Town boss David Batch wants his players to relish the pressure of being Southern League Premier Division promotion favourites.
The new-look Saints go into battle at Bideford tomorrow (Saturday). ahead of a Tuesday tussle against Leamington at the Premier Plus Arena and Batch is confident he has the right ingredients to cook up a recipe for success in his first full season at the helm.
St Neots agonisingly missed out on promotion last term when beaten by a controversial penalty in a play-off final at Truro back in May and Batch has revamped his squad since then with some shrewd summer recruitment.
He said: “We will retain the organisation we displayed last season – in fact there will not be a more organised team at this level.
“We have added a hell of a lot of pace and athleticism in our front four – which are things we lacked - to that organisation.
“The players we’ve recruited are not just quick. They are technically good and some have the scope to go on to play at higher levels.
“If we can get into full flow, we will be very difficult to beat. The challenge is to do that on a regular basis. It is all about us as in that we will get results if we get our performances right.
“Our recruitment could not have gone better. It’s the first time I have come up with a must-have list of requirements for each position, and got everyone and everything I wanted.
“I will be disappointed if we are not up there challenging. That’s not expectation – that’s reality.
“We are being touted as being among the favourites for the title for a reason. To play with pressure like that is a privilege, not a burden.”
Mat Mitchel-King has snubbed offers from higher levels to return to St Neots while Batch has also signed three attacking prospects.
Former MK Dons youngster Kelvin Osei-Addo, ex-Histon talent Peter Clark and Bamousa Cisse, who had attracted interest from professional clubs after a prolific spell at Ryman League South Division side Tooting & Mitcham last season, are the latest recruits. Batch has not firmed up his interest in another trialist striker, Andy Ofosu.
St Neots will go into the new campaign on a high after bashing higher-level Concord Rangers 5-1 in a friendly on Saturday. Clark scored one goal and created another for Remy Gordon while Tom Meechan struck twice. Ryan Hawkins tucked away an early penalty.
It was a fine result towards the end of a pre-season programme which Batch described as ‘bitty’.
He continued: “We go into the season still with lots of work to do and I know we will continue to improve as we go on due to the facilities and coaching expertise we have at our disposal.
“The players’ understanding and attitudes have been great and we are confident they have the pace and ability to deliver the things being asked of them by the management team.
“We are very focused on performance. We are not a team which plays off the cuff, but one which continually works on the key components of our game.”