Karl Gibbs and Jimmy Dean are added to St Ives Town’s settled squad

JEZ Hall thinks St Ives Town will ‘hit the ground running’ this season after a poor start last time out cost them dearly in the race for the championship of the United Counties League Premier Division.

The club ended up in their highest ever position in May, but lost their first four games after long-standing management duo Hall and Warren Everdell struggled to assemble a settled squad as kick-off approached.

“We didn’t really know what our squad was – that was a problem and it really cost us,” admitted Hall.

But this year the managers have persuaded the majority of the squad that ended up reaching the quarter finals of the FA Vase and finishing third in the league to stick around.

And there are two new faces: Karl Gibbs and Jimmy Dean, both of whom have joined from Peterborough Northern Star, the team who looked like they were going to run away with the title at the start of last year, before dramatically dropping away after Christmas.

“These are big moves,” said Hall. “Gibbs is a massive goalscorer – he’s a 30-goal plus player in the UCL but had an injury ravaged season at PNS. Dean is a combative midfielder. They are both in their late 20s which is a good age, and everybody was after them – but they chose us.

“They both have a great deal of experience and will bring with them a positive attitude towards making this squad even more successful.”

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Goalkeeper Niall Conroy-Owen and defenders Dan Newman, Jamie Alsop and Jordan Lambert have all re-signed, while influential captain and central midfielder Lee Ellison has put pen to paper for another year, along with Stuart Cobb and David Cobb.

Scott Everdell is off to university in Leeds, but will remain available to Hall and his dad, and Max Roberts and Tom Spark will step up from the under-18s.

Junior McDougald, the club’s former pro, has also agreed a new deal but will spend a week at Lilleshall National Sports Centre working on a troublesome hamstring before joining his team-mates for training.

Then there’s Conor Washington, the 20-year-old striker who scored 52 goals in 50 games last season before being courted by Peterborough United, Dagenham & Redbridge and Cambridge United.

Washington will need an operation at some point – but will start the season up front with Gibbs after his move to Cambridge fell through when a minor knee problem was discovered. Washington and Gibbs up front – what a mouth-watering prospect that it is.

“We are so much more settled than we were at this time last year,” said Hall. “We’re hoping to hit the ground running this season.” Meanwhile, St Ives Town have some new chairmen after Paul Reason and Sheldon Francis were elected jointly to the role by the Board of Directors.

The joint chairmen, who will stand for the next three years, replaced Ashley Griffiths who stood down at the club’s recent AGM. “This is a great opportunity for Paul and I to drive the club forward,” said Francis.

“It is fundamental that we continue to strive to make the football club a continued success both on and off the field.”