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Newmarket Town boss Michael Shinn admits side ‘deserved to go up this season’ after securing promotion against Mulbarton Wanderers





Newmarket Town boss Michael Shinn stated his side ‘were the team that deserved to go up this season’ after the Jockeys achieved a historic promotion to Step 4 of the non-league pyramid courtesy of a 2-0 win at home to Mulbarton Wanderers in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division Play-Off Final.

The victory was decided in first half stoppage time via two goals in two minutes. Ali Conway, who scored a brace in the Newmarket’s 3-1 semi-final win over Dereham Town on April 27, gave Shinn’s outfit lift off with a left-footed drive that found its way into the bottom-right corner, before Jordan Foster quickly doubled their advantage with a delightful dink over goalkeeper Tom Wright.

Mulbarton, who finished third in the Premier Division table, created few chances in reply. The closest they came was Tom Baird’s curling effort from the left corner of the six-yard box, five minutes after half-time, that flew over the bar.

Michael Shinn. Newmarket Town vs Mulbarton Wanderers. Picture: Mark Westley
Michael Shinn. Newmarket Town vs Mulbarton Wanderers. Picture: Mark Westley

Shinn, who was appointed Jockeys boss in January 2018, said: “It was always the goal (promotion) when I came here. It took a bit longer than we’d hoped.

“Were we very good today? No, but we were dogged, determined and I think overall, without speaking out of turn, we were the team that deserved to go up this season without a doubt.

“I think there was a lot of rustiness because we haven’t played for a few weeks, and, Mulbarton, I knew they would be sharper than us, because they had the game in between. It’s always been calm, the message throughout has always been calm.

Michael Shinn. Newmarket Town vs Mulbarton Wanderers. Picture: Mark Westley
Michael Shinn. Newmarket Town vs Mulbarton Wanderers. Picture: Mark Westley

“It’s been the strangest season ever. We all know, we’re not going to go over what happened previously, but I’ve said it before, the only reason I’m still standing here is because of this group of players.

“I’ll always owe that to them and it means an awful lot. As a player, it’s nice to win stuff, but as a manager the pressure that you’re under, even at this level, it’s a good feeling to get it over the line.”

The play-off final was long in the making for Newmarket – who finished runners up to Mildenhall Town in the regular season – as they were scheduled to face Thetford Town for a place in Step 4 on May 4.

The Brecklanders were expelled from the competition for fielding a banned player, Josh Wells, in their semi-final win against Mulbarton. The defender was meant to be serving the second match of a five-game ban that he received while playing for Newmarket in February before his move to Matt Morton’s side in March.

Newmarket Town celebrate promotion. Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket Town celebrate promotion. Picture: Mark Westley

Thetford successfully appealed the decision to remove them with the FA, on the grounds they were not aware of the ban. They were reinstated in the competition and had to replay their semi-final at Mulbarton on Tuesday, which saw them lose 2-1.

And it was only announced on Thursday evening that the final would go ahead on Saturday. The Jockeys – who finished runners up to Mildenhall Town – wanted to get the game played, so cancelled an end-of-season trip to Liverpool that they were meant to enjoy this weekend – which they lost more than £1,500 in travel and accommodation for.

The fixture also looked like it came too soon for Ben Robinson, but he cut short a holiday with his family in Majorca to play at the Tristel Stadium – and what a decision that proved to be.

Newmarket Town celebrate promotion. Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket Town celebrate promotion. Picture: Mark Westley

“The boys have lost a lot of money calling off the trip. Ben flew back two days early, alongside his wife, to be a part of today. I think that tells you what we’ve got in the group and what we’ve built really,” said Shinn.

“(The last few weeks have been) really difficult. We’ve had little-to-no communication of what was happening, when it was happening, what might happen, ifs, whats. It was then ‘you’ll have to play Mulbarton away’, ‘(we said) ‘no we won’t’. It was just chaos, just chaos.

“Without speaking out of turn, even today they haven’t even brought a trophy and it just sums up the last few weeks. Getting over the line was really important. Is the trophy really important to me? No. Is it important for the boys to life a trophy once you’ve got promotion and won the play-offs? Yeah, of course it is.

Newmarket Town with their promotion-winning medals. Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket Town with their promotion-winning medals. Picture: Mark Westley

“As a manager, you can put a group together, but they’ve got to buy in, they’ve got to feel it, they’ve got to make this happen. I’ve said this lots of times but in the Whitham game in pre-season, I knew it was a special group and it’s grown. All of a sudden we’ve got where we wanted to be.”