St Albans City have tough first month, says Gray

Omar Beckles carries the ball forward. Picture: Leigh Page

Omar Beckles carries the ball forward. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

St Albans City have a ‘tough’ first month to their Vanarama National League South campaign, according to joint manager James Gray.

The Saints have been handed a trip to Gosport Borough, the 2012/13 Southern League play-off champions, on August 8, the opening day of the season.

Two days later they welcome Oxford City, who have transferred to the league after finishing sixth in the Conference North last season, to Clarence Park. On August 15, Ebbsfleet United come to St Albans before a Tuesday night trip to Eastbourne Borough.

The rest of the month sees City travel to Chelmsford City in between home games against Bath City and Hemel Hempstead Town. To see the full fixture list, see inside.

“It’s a tough first month,” said Gray.

“Every manager must be wondering where the points are coming from because everyone seems to be getting stronger. Maybe we have, too.

“We beat Gosport 2-1 at their place last season but it’s not going to be easy. Oxford are an unknown and Ebbsfleet have strengthened. Then we go to Eastbourne on a Tuesday.

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“Four games in eight days - it’s going to be tough.”

The Saints finished 13th in the Conference South, now rebranded as the National League South, after an inconsistent season. It is something the team will have to improve in an even tougher division.

“Every game is tough. The sides that have come in - Maidstone United and Margate - are very good,” said Gray.

“Right now I’d be happy with one point and one goal more than last year. The main objective is to stay in the league for another year. Once we’ve achieved that, we’ll see what we can do.”