NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: St Neots Town ready to continue their Southern League rise

St Neots Town manager Matt Clements. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES

St Neots Town manager Matt Clements. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES - Credit: Archant

Manager Matt Clements reckons St Neots Town can continue their Southern League rise – providing they play smarter.

Saints survived brushes with Premier Division relegation in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 campaigns before climbing into mid-table last term in Clements’ first full season at the helm.

That 12th placed finish also came complete with a 64-point tally – the club’s second-highest at Step 3 – but Clements is convinced both of those achievements can be improved on with a little more nous in the coming months.

The new Premier Division Central campaign begins with a Saturday trip to Stratford, 3pm, ahead of a first home outing on Tuesday when Bedworth United visit the Premier Plus Stadium, 7.45pm.

“Bettering the previous season is always the obvious target,” said Clements. “It’s important to make progress from year-to-year.

“We avoided relegation and then moved into mid-table, but now we want to raise the bar again.

“In my mind we allowed around a dozen points to slip away last season through our own naivety rather then class of our opponents.

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“If we can eradicate that from our game there is no reason why we can’t look to move into the mid-seventies this season.

“That sort of total would more than likely put us into the top eight and onto the fringes of the play-off race and would represent another step forward.

“We also know from last season that we need to do better in games against sides around and below us in the table.

“Sometimes it comes down to having a little more consistency and being streetwise in the key moments in games to secure results.

“We know we don’t possess the experience that some clubs at this level boast, but we have a good quality and a good quantity of players with a lot of talent and desire to be successful.”

Saints face a reunion with striker Nabil Shariff, who left for Stratford during the summer, this Saturday.

Shariff is one of five summer departures from the club, but a total of 10 players have arrived – including three in recent days.

They are goalkeeper FInlay Iron, who returns on loan from League Two club Cambridge United, former Hitchin defender Daniel Oleniran and ex-Bedford Town wideman Devante Stanley.