Saints’ ability to match the best sides is manager’s top take-away from season

Sam Corcoran in action against Hayes & Yeading. Picture: Leigh Page

Sam Corcoran in action against Hayes & Yeading. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

St Albans City’s ability to compete with the best sides in the Vanarama Conference South is joint manager James Gray’s biggest take-away from the club’s first season back in the division.

Inconsistency marred the majority of the Saints’ season but they showed their credentials against the play-off teams. City took four points off Havant and Waterlooville and Bastingstoke Town and held champions Bromley to a draw in their first meeting. Only Boreham Wood and Whitehawk took six points.

“That we can adapt and match sides,” was Gray’s answer when asked what his biggest bonus of the season has been.

“I’ve been crying out for consistency all year and it’s taken us up ‘til now to find it. It’s also taken Graham [Golds, joint manager] and I time to realise what the requirements for this level are.

“Next season could be very good or it could be very poor, but I feel we’ve learnt a lot this season. On a learning curve, as management, it’s been invaluable. As a squad, the majority of which hadn’t played at this level, they’re finding out what it takes.

“This level is not about selfish football; it has to be a team effort from top to bottom, including the back room. We need confidence from the owners and chairman to match what we want to do. If we can do that and keep the squad, which will be difficult, then the season as a whole will have been positive.”

Despite winning their last four games and finishing the season in 13th place, next season’s objective will still be the same: remain in the division.

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“I know what we’ve got squad-wise and if we can make additions then we can push in to the top half of the league,” Gray told Saintsnet. “We have to stay in the league first and foremost. That’s where we are as a club.”