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Newmarket Town achieve season objective of reaching Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division play-offs – but manager Michael Shinn says job is not done yet

Newmarket Town’s season will extend beyond the regulation 36 games after they secured themselves a place in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division play-offs last weekend.

A 5-2 victory away at Heacham rubber-stamped the Jockeys’ position within the top five – and it means that they will have a shot at gaining promotion to Step 4 alongside champions Mildenhall Town.

Manager Michael Shinn said: “I had a meeting with the chairman and the committee at the start of the season and they said they wanted us to challenge for the top five, so that was the target.

Newmarket Town boss Michael Shinn. Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket Town boss Michael Shinn. Picture: Mark Westley

“As soon as the play-offs were introduced in the summer, I always felt like it should be our goal.

“It’s nice to have achieved that but at the same time it doesn’t mean a lot right now because we’ve still got plenty of work to do to get through them.”

While their goal has been achieved, Shinn has no intention of letting his players ease up during the final two matches before the play-offs.

Victory at fellow promotion hopefuls Mulbarton Wanderers on Saturday (3pm) will ensure that Shinn’s side end the campaign as runners-up, which in turn would give Newmarket home advantage in the semi-final and also the final should they get that far.

Second place would also represent the highest position that the club has finished in the Premier Division.

“Our home form has been really good this season, as it has been for most of my seven years at the club,” added Shinn.

“Finishing second would obviously be important for the semis and the final if we can get there, and it will also be the club’s highest finish at the level.

“Like every team at this time of year we’ve got lads carrying knocks. It’s been like that for a while but we will keep going how we have been because we want to get the points to finish second.

“It will be tough against Mulbarton – all our games against the teams in the play-offs have been.”

What has impressed Shinn most about his squad this term has been their ‘mentality’.

In years gone by bad results have on occasions turned into negative runs of form, but the current group has displayed an ability to bounce back quickly.

“I said last summer that this group was built differently mentally,” said Shinn.

“The Brantham game in March showed that. We were 2-0 down with only 20 minutes left to played and we still managed to find a way to win that 3-2.

“It’s been a real shift in mentality and we saw that from early in the season.

“In other years we might have gone on bad runs but that hasn’t happened this year – that’s down to the mentality of the players.”