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Settled Soham target play-offs

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It has been a relatively quiet summer at Soham Town Rangers, and player-boss Robbie Mason did not want it any other way as he plots a Bostik League North Division play-off challenge in 2018/19.

AIMING HIGH: Robbie Mason
AIMING HIGH: Robbie Mason

Having seen the club raided for squad members over the previous couple of campaigns, the off-season for Mason was always going to be more about player retention rather than recruitment.

By and large it has been a successful operation, with the few that have departed replaced by the arrival of Ryan Auger and Manuel Ramirez Vidues.

And with things much more settled at Julius Martin Lane, Mason – whose men finished 13th last year – is hoping to be competing with the top teams in the league.

“You have to be realistic when setting targets and the play-offs is something we should be looking at,” he said.

“There are obviously some tough sides in the league with big money, but we want to push those teams.

“We have seen in the pre-season friendlies that the lads are all willing to help each other out, and that only comes from having a settled squad.

“Because we knew a lot of the lads wanted to stay, we were not actively looking for too many players.

“There are no big egos here who will just sit around for the ride.

“Everyone is going to work hard and we will also be much fitter this year.

“Last season we slipped up late on quite often and that was down to fitness – it probably cost us 12 to 15 points.

“The top 10 has to be a minimum for us, but play-offs is the target. Anything lower will be a bit of a disappointment.”

Mason and his assistant Erkan Okay are preparing for their second full season in charge of the Greens, having been appointed in December 2016 and overseen the great escape from relegation at the end of that term.

And, having been in the dugout for a decent amount of time, Mason believes he is now more aware of how to get the best of out of his squad.

“We have had a good 12 months with the squad and it is more settled – they know us and we know them,” he added.

“It was difficult the first year or so with all the changes and maybe I needed to alter a few things.

“But now we have sussed the lads out. We know which ones need an arm around the shoulder and which ones need a bit of a rocket.

“There is a good relationship between us and that should help us to achieve our targets.”

The fixtures computer has not been kind to Soham, though, handing them a trip to title favourites Heybridge Swifts first up on Saturday (3pm).