Newmarket Town manager Michael Shinn challenges players to build upon their first league victory since early September
Relief – that was player-manager Michael Shinn’s overriding emotion after watching his Newmarket Town side end their wait for a Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division victory.
The Jockeys raced out of the traps, opening up the 2021/22 campaign with six straight wins.
However, that was followed by a run of nine winless matches – dating back to September 4 – with seven of those ending in defeat.
But that sequence was halted in impressive fashion on Saturday when Newmarket triumphed 1-0 against a Mulbarton Wanderers side that had won their previous five games in a row heading into the contest.
“Relieved is probably the best way to describe it,” said Shinn. “You actually don’t get as much enjoyment from it as you’d think because it’s been a long time coming.
“It was nice that a performance we put in got the result it deserved. That’s not to say we’ve been playing really well because a few of the performances have been below par, but we put in a real shift and got what we deserved.
“I actually stopped looking at the table a few weeks ago! But we knew Mulbarton are third and were on a great run going into it.
“As you would expect they put a lot of pressure on us late on and had four or five corners, but we rode it. It’s a really important win.”
The challenge for Newmarket now is to prove that the result was no flash in the pan.
On Saturday they play host to 17th-placed Whitton United at the Tristel Stadium (3pm) – and Shinn is eager for his players to build upon their hard work from the previous weekend.
“I said to the lads at half-time when we were one up that it would count for nothing if we didn’t go out and perform in the second half,” he added.
“And it’s the same next week – if we end up slumping again then this win doesn’t mean as much.
“We’ve got to make sure we work hard and don’t go into it thinking we’re a good team that can go through the motions and win games.
“I hate phrases and words like kick-start. This isn’t a kicks-start to the season, more about us now needing to find the consistency we had earlier in the season.”
One player that has pleased Shinn since returning to the club last month is Joe Bennett. The midfielder played a particularly key role in the victory at Mulbarton – and Shinn feels his presence is invaluable.
“Joe is a real leader and a voice in the dressing room,” he said. “He drives people on and leads by example, just like he did on Saturday.
"Joe provides that bit of protection to the back three or four and ever since he came back he has showed how much we missed him. He’s one that really sets the standard for us.”
And Shinn is hopeful that further additions are in the offing as he aims to add some competition for places.
He said: “You look at games like Saturday, see that performance and it’s easy to think we don’t need to add.
“But the run we’ve been on shows we do need a couple. We’ve got a few injuries and things like that so we need the cover.”