Saints ready for tough league

PUBLISHED: 18:50 25 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010

Boss Steve Castle

Boss Steve Castle

ST Albans City manager Steve Castle expects a strong challenge from a number of big-spending sides in the Blue Square South next term. The City players return to training on Monday and Castle is confident that with some more quality additions, his side

ST Albans City manager Steve Castle expects a strong challenge from a number of big-spending sides in the Blue Square South next term.

The City players return to training on Monday and Castle is confident that with some more quality additions, his side can enjoy a good campaign, but knows that the competition will be tough.

Newly promoted sides AFC Wimbledon, Chelmsford City and Team Bath will all bring character to the division.

Well supported side AFC Wimbledon are coached by former Aldershot Town boss Terry Brown and his assistant Stuart Cash, briefly a City boss. The Dons will be determined to continue their upward progression having earned promotion beating Staines 2-1 in the Ryman Isthmian League Premier Division promotion play-off final.

Team Bath won promotion via the British Gas Business Southern League Premier Division promotion play-off and have attracted the spotlight as a football club operating within the environment of the University of Bath. The club recruits young players from professional football and many graduate with degrees with some returning to full-time clubs.

Ryman Isthmian League Premier Division 2007/08 champions Chelmsford have already snapped up midfielder Dave Rainford from League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge. Boss Jeff King has outlined his plans to add further quality to his squad as they look to gain successive promotions and reach the Blue Square Premier.

City dramatically escaped relegation danger last term with a sensational run of just one defeat in the final 11 games under manager Steve Castle. The results lifted the Saints above Dorchester Town and Weston-super-Mare to avoid the bottom three, however both Dorchester and Weston have since been given reprieves and will compete in the Blue Square South again next term. Only bottom club Sutton United were relegated although Cambridge City have been demoted for failing to satisfy ground regulations.

Castle is expecting a strong challenge from the new teams with extra financial muscle but is confident that his squad will measure up. He said: "The budgets that some of the clubs have got in the Conference South are frightening. They have got to get the right players though. We can't match the big hitters in this league financially but I am just concerned with getting together as strong a team and squad together as I possibly can.

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