Newmarket bidding to bounce back

NEWMARKET Town joint manager Kevin Grainger was almost lost for words after seeing his Ridgeons League Premier Division side thrashed 4-0 at home by Hadleigh United in midweek.

After clean sheets in their previous two matches, Newmarket conceded four times against a side who had hitherto struggled to find the back of the net - and it could have been more.

Grainger said: “We played a lot better on Tuesday than we did against Diss in the FA Vase last Saturday when we won 3-0, so it’s crazy!”

Admittedly, Newmarket are having to adjust to life without Andy Eady, the former Bury Town and Mildenhall Town centre back who has been captain of the Jockeys for the past two-and-a-half years.

The veteran Eady has decided to call time on his career due to work commitments, and Grainger admitted he will be a big loss to the club.

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“Andy was as close as you will get to a professional player experience-wise. We are missing him as he pulled the back four together.

“Having said that, he had to start somewhere, and other lads now have an opportunity to prove themselves as well.”

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Tuesday’s home defeat certainly came as a shock to the system, after Newmarket had made a steady, if unspectacular, start to the season with six points from as many matches.

“We have played three of the top four - Leiston, CRC and Kirkley & Pakefield - and with a new team I am comfortable with that return.

“I was looking for the team to step up from last year and aim for a top-ten finish, but maybe with the changes we have had that will be a tall order and we may have to consolidate in mid-table.”

Grainger, who this season has Neville Nania working alongside him as joint manager, said that only six players remained from last year’s 15-man squad.

Among those to leave were experienced trio Paul Betson, Colin Vowden and Aaron Rutter, who have all joined Kershaw Premier League side Lakenheath.

Several players with United Counties League experience have come in to replace them, and Grainger admitted: “We have had a lot of changes in personnel, and at the moment we have not settled.

“We have had a lot of injuries, holidays and work commitments to contend with, which has been disruptive.”

Grainger will have to pick his team up for today’s visit of Premier Division newcomers Great Yarmouth.

“They have started the season well and it will be a hard game, but we will be looking for a reaction from the players,” added Grainger, whose side face Wisbech Town in the FA Vase second qualifying round a week today.

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