Linton Granta prepared to mount second title challenge, new joint-manager Dale Archer claims ahead of opening league encounter
New Linton Granta manager Dale Archer admitted that the fixture list had not been kind to last season’s Kershaw Premier runners-up, but excitement was still high about the opening match of this season.
Player-boss Archer, who became joint manager alongside former player Collin Morrice in the off-season, was speaking to the Echo ahead of the Step 7 club’s first match, away to St Neots Town Reserves next Wednesday (7.45pm).
He said it was ‘mad’ that seven of the team’s first eight fixtures will be on the road, including the highly-competitive West Wratting derby on September 7, which is set to be ‘bigger than ever’ with last season’s Linton boss Lee Miller now in charge at Wratting.
“We’re only at home once in our first eight games, which is just mad,” Archer said. “But, at the same time, if we can get a good run going, we will put ourselves in a great position really early on.
“It’s hard to know what to really expect from the first match, especially when it’s a reserve side, but pre-season has gone well and I’m just excited to get going now.
“We’ve heard that a lot of sides have strengthened so it will be a tough year, but hopefully we will be in the mix. We definitely want to go one better than last year and win the league, but it won’t be easy – I don’t think any side will run away with it.
“I think it will be more competitive between a number of teams, not one or two.”
He highlighted Great Shelford, who have won three of the past five titles and been runner-up at the other two, as an ever-present threat in the league but also noted the potential strength of Over Sports, who beat Linton 4-2 in the semi-finals of pre-season tournament, the Terry Wilson Cup, rivals West Wratting and Fulbourn Institute.
“We will just have to make sure we step up,” Archer added. “Last year we didn’t in the really big games and it cost us the title, so it’s important we have learned from that.”
He was also keen to sing the praises of new arrivals Rhys Davies (goalkeeper) from Kershaw Senior B side Duxford United, ‘Linton lad’ Jack Howard – who has played for Haverhill Rovers – moves up from the Reserves, Sebastian Bradford joins from Senior A side Fulbourn Institute Reserves and Craig Defew.
He confirmed that last season’s top scorer Simon Greathead had committed to the club for another season, but that defender Nick Wilderspin and Andy Palmer had departed.
Palmer has stepped up three levels to BetVictor Isthmian League North side Cambridge City, after attracting the attention of the higher-league club with 24 goals from 32 appearances last term.