St Neots Town boss targets return to form in derby battle tonight

Josh Beech has been released by St Neots Town. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES

Josh Beech has been released by St Neots Town. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES - Credit: Archant

St Neots Town chief David Batch insists a return to form in the heat of derby battle is a must tonight.

Batch’s men make the short trip to ProEdge Westwood Road in St Ives to take on Cambridge City in a crunch Southern League Premier Division clash (7.45pm).

They go into battle locked together with their county rivals in the bottom half of the standings and in urgent need of igniting an anticipated promotion challenge.

They have fallen 10 points off the play-off pace and trail leaders Poole, who beat them 3-0 in Dorset last Saturday, by 19 points.

Batch said: “It has been incredibly tough to deal with the number of injuries we’ve had this season.

“But there can be no denying the performances have been really poor in the last month and that has been mirrored in our results.

“It is a massive game tonight and we need to start finding some form quickly.

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“We owe our supporters a performance and if we manage that the right result will follow.

“We do have games in hand to drag ourselves up the table, but the problem is that we haven’t looked like winning of late and that needs to change.

“We consistently picked up results in the second half of last season following my arrival at the end of December and ended up reaching the play-off final.

“We have more time on our side this season and we need to make full use of it.”

Batch is attempting to draft in a number of new faces after a host of departures in recent days.

Defender Connor Hall was sold to Ryman North Division side Bury Town, midfielder Josh Beech has been released and utlity man Ryan Horne has returned to Cambridge United following the completion of a loan stay with Saints.

Frontman Nathan Frater was released from his contract recently while defender Jack Wilkinson has departed due to the combination of university studies and the need for groin surgery, but he could return later in the season.

Batch added: “We have gradually got players back from injury and it was a case of the squad needing to be trimmed.

“That has happened in recent days and it has allowed us to now look to bring in some new players.

“We have made a number of seven-day approaches for some very specific targets. We feel we know what the problem has been lately and we hope we can find the solution.

“It is about bringing in the right individuals with the right mentality to take us forward.

“Our success rate with players we have recruited in the past year has been very good and hopefully that continues.”

The trip to Cambridge City is the first of three tough away tests in the space of seven days for Saints. They visit third-placed Redditch this Saturday and then go to second-placed Leamington – a club spearheaded by former Saints striking star Ben Mackey – on Tuesday.

Winger Remy Gordon is closing in on a return after three months out with a broken leg.