No pressure at St Neots Town insist Gary King and Mike Kearns after addition of Drew Roberts and Chris Dillon

Gary King, the joint manager at St Neots Town. Picture: Helen Drake

Gary King, the joint manager at St Neots Town. Picture: Helen Drake - Credit: Archant

Neither Gary King nor his chairman Mike Kearns think the signing of the Southern League Premier Division’s leading strikeforce from last season – Drew Roberts and Chris Dillon – will put any pressure on St Neots Town to win promotion.

Neither Gary King nor his chairman Mike Kearns think the signing of the Southern League Premier Division’s leading strikeforce from last season – Drew Roberts and Chris Dillon – will put any pressure on St Neots Town to win promotion.

Roberts, 31, and Dillon, 30, were first paired together by King and his co-manager Zema Abbey at Arlesey Town – but both were at Chesham United last season where they scored 67 goals between them with their team finishing second in the table before missing out on promotion in the play-offs. Now the duo have linked up with their former bosses at St Neots where they will challenge fellow forward Shane Tolley for a place in the starting 11.

“It doesn’t put pressure on us,” said King. “We are setting out to improve on what we did last season – we will be picking up from where we left off and we will be strong. But there won’t be a team in the top 10 that isn’t aiming to be stronger.

“We haven’t made wholesale changes, we have kept most of the players from last season and we intend to add four or five players for competition for places.”


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Two more players signed last week, as the club announced the names that had already put pen to paper. Defenders Jordan Ivey-Ward and Josh Bickerstaff have joined the club but there were two names missing from the list of retained players. Defender Dave Deeney, who is suspended for the first 15 games of next season, will not be in the managers’ thoughts until that ban is spent, and Matty Nolan, the striker who was Tolley’s partner up front last season, is still in talks with the club.

“Last season, as a pair, Roberts and Dillon were the highest goalscorers in the division. When you look at that, any team that wants to challenge needs four top strikers.

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“They are at an age that you know they are not going to learn new tricks – but they have a growing understanding and that’s what has made them so effective. And they can still get better as a partnership. It does mean there will be stiff competition up front but then we want a mirror image of that throughout the team.”

The signing of Roberts and Dillon will have seen eyebrows raised among St Neots’ rivals. The Saints burst into the Premier Division in 2012 after two successive promotions – but with manager Dennis Greene leaving and Iain Parr taking his place, the budget was slashed and the team floundered somewhat.

It was late last year that the chairman Kearns turned to King and brothers Zema and Nathan Abbey after Parr had stepped down. In the end, a mid-table finish was more than the club was hoping for during those dark days in the shadow of a relegation battle.

Kearns said: “To have any chance of success in the Premier Division you have to have the goal scorers to get the team 90 to 100 goals. Then you might be in with a chance.

“We have Shane Tolley who is a proven 30-goal striker and now with Drew Roberts and Chris Dillon we have another possible 60 goals. Add in Lewis Hilliard who scored 24 goals last season and Jay Davies who scored 15 and you have some real goalscoring figures.

“Most teams can rely on or only sign one proven goalscorer and there is always a chance of injury. We have hopefully alleviated that problem.

“We have possibly the best three strikers in the league and an established squad from last season who were becoming mean in defence.

“There will be no pressure from me or targets for next season but with the quality we have in management and players we have given ourselves every opportunity to have a decent season.”

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