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Official News

Nightingale expects competitive league
Posted by Andrew Dunn
Aug 10, 2017, 06:57

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With the start of the season just days away, City manager Robbie Nightingale spoke with Andrew Dunn about his hopes for the new campaign.

With Cambridge City losing their Premier Division status on goal difference last season, they are widely tipped to go well and be in the running for an immediate return to the Southern League top flight come the end of the campaign. Breaking off from preparations for the season opener against Ashford on Saturday, City boss Robbie Nightingale aired on the side of caution and chose his words carefully when pressed on how he saw the campaign going. “I expect a hard, competitive season” was his response.

City have kept the majority of their squad from last season and Nightingale has added Ian Miller, Niall Conroy, Mark Coulson, and Michael King whilst Tom Knowles has joined on loan from Cambridge United.

However, Nightingale is keen to point out that there are others in the division where expectation is also high. “I can name about 8 – 10 teams who have quality players who know what it’s all about. You look at the likes of Barton Rovers and Kempston who have been there or thereabouts in recent seasons. Then there are teams like Hartley Wintney who won their league last season by a massive margin, AFC Rushden & Diamonds are probably going to be a threat and Moneyfields who have several former Havant & Waterlooville players in their squad, so nothing should be taken for granted”.

The City boss is keen to point out that although his team may have a chance of an immediate return to the Premier Division, he is cautious for fans not to get their hopes up too much. “At times it will be tough as we will come up against some good opposition. I know quite a bit about the teams at this level. I watched many games last season at the likes of Royston, Barton and Kempston so I have seen the standard. Make no mistake, challenging for an immediate return will not be easy. It will be a very competitive division.

Despite relegation last season, the Lilywhites finished the campaign in excellent form, and the City boss is hopeful that will continue. “We have a tough game on Saturday, but it will be great to start the season well. We know what we can do, and I believe we have a number of strengths. Firstly, the back four. If they can all stay fit and free of suspension I believe that could become the cornerstone of our side. Even in pre-season you can see the potential that Ian Miller and Jordan Gent have as a centre back partnership. We also have plenty of pace too. The likes of Salim Relizani and Ollie Snaith give us that option and everyone saw what Tom Knowles is capable of in the friendly against St Ives last week, so I hope that fans have plenty to be enthused about”.

It is the fans who Nightingale hopes they will like what they see this year. “It’s been very difficult for them in recent seasons, but we have to put all that behind us now. We are re-building, it’s a new season, and a new start and everyone wants to get going for real. There may be times during this campaign when it isn’t going well but regardless of the result I want supporters to think that they can see what we are trying to build. We all want the good times to return to Cambridge City and I hope that the fans will come and give us their backing every week”.

Those fans get the chance to see the opening salvos of the 2017/18 season on Saturday when City host Ashford Town (Middx). Kick-off at Westwood Road is at 3:00pm.

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