City are a Conference South team - Ben Martin

Ben Martin

Ben Martin - Credit: Archant

Ben Martin believes St Albans City have everything in place to play Conference South football in the 2014/15 season.

Ben Martin wins a header against two Frome Town defenders. Picture: Bob Walkley

Ben Martin wins a header against two Frome Town defenders. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

The Saints’ captain explained that joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds have assembled a team that is more than capable of playing at the next level and believes they have everything in place to get out of the Calor Southern League this year.

“100 per cent we can get promoted,” Martin told the Herts Ad.

“This is a Conference South team; you can see that in the cup results we’ve had against teams from that level.”

He added: “We should get into the play-offs at the very least and we have the right mix of youth and experience to win it. The play-offs are a lottery but we have the players to get out of this league.”

As it stands, City are 23 points off league leaders Hemel Hempstead with four games in hand, and sit two places off the top five.

The 31-year-old insists the Saints can match the Tudors and would be closer to the top if the team had been together longer.

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“Hemel Hempstead have had the same manager for three years, that’s why they’re top of the league. If we started the league over again then I think we’d be a couple of points behind them,” he said.

“James and Graham brought in a lot of players at the start of the season and it took four to six weeks for us to get to know one another. In football, fans aren’t patient but you have to be when you bring in so many new faces; you can see that in the results.”

One of the reasons for City’s success has been a defensive resurgence. This season they have kept 12 clean sheets in all competitions, the latest being Saturday’s 4-0 win over Frome Town at Clarence Park.

Martin said it was a big win after a below-par Christmas period.

“Bearing in mind we lost to Hungerford the week before, drew with Chesham United and the Biggleswade game was called off, we hadn’t had a win in a while.

“We went in 1-0, which could have been more, and we were much better in the second half, we controlled the game and I don’t think the scoreline flattered us.”

With a busy January ahead of them and the possibility of Tom Ward being sidelined for an extended period with a broken foot, City will need Martin and his defensive team mates to be on top of their game if they are going to be playing Conference South football next year.