NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Tough start to Soham Town Rangers’ top-10 challenge

PUBLISHED: 09:39 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 08 August 2018

Soham Town Rangers player/assistant boss Erkan Okay makes a tackle during their friendly defeat to Peterborough Sports. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON

Soham Town Rangers player/assistant boss Erkan Okay makes a tackle during their friendly defeat to Peterborough Sports. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON

James Richardson

Soham Town Rangers face a daunting start to the Bostik League North Division season this Saturday.

Alfie Connor of Soham Town Rangers during their pre-season friendly defeat at Peterborough Sports. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSONAlfie Connor of Soham Town Rangers during their pre-season friendly defeat at Peterborough Sports. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON

The Greens begin the new campaign where they finished the last one – away at Heybridge Swifts.

An already tough curtain-raiser against an Essex side expected to challenge for the title has been me all the more difficult by injuries, suspension and unavailability in the Rangers camp.

Wideman Joe Carden (knee) and left-back Will Gardner (ankle) are major doubts while player-boss Erkan Okay is suspended after being sent off in the 2-1 defeat at Heybridge on the final day of the 2017/18 season back in April.

Soham are also without two attacking players with Callum Russell and Sam Mulready both away.

It's getting shirty during Soham Town Rangers' friendly at Peterborough Sports! Picture: JAMES RICHARDSONIt's getting shirty during Soham Town Rangers' friendly at Peterborough Sports! Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON

“We’re down to the bare bones,” admitted Okay. “It’s not ideal to be going into the first game without so many players.

“But it can happen when working with a small squad and we’ve just got to try to get through the game as best we can.

“It was always going to be a very tough start against a team who have one of the bigger budgets at this level and who are likely to be up right up there, but it’s even more difficult now.”

Absentees aside, Soham go into the new campaign with plenty of optimism and a target of breaking into the top 10.

They have successfully retained the vast majority of the players who helped the club finish 13th last season, added a couple of new signings and been in pleasing form during pre-season.

Rangers suffered only one defeat in eight friendly outings. That arrived last Saturday at fellow Step 4 side Peterborough Sports where they went down 4-0.

“It’s always important to be positive and aim to make progress,” added Okay. “We feel that finishing in the top 10 is an achievable goal.

“We will benefit from having a season of development behind us and we know we can improve our discipline which was poor and cost us points last season.

Soham will host Uxbridge in the preliminary round of the Velocity Trophy – the Bostik League cup competition – on Tuesday, August 21.

Soham have withdrawn their reserve side from the Cambridgeshire County League on the eve of the new season.

The Rangers second string were due to play in the Kershaw Senior A Division, but didn’t have enough players to form a squad.

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