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Former Southend Manor and Wivenhoe Town manager Gary Monti replaces departed Jack Wignall as Cornard United manager

Cornard United have tasked former Southend Manor and Wivenhoe Town boss Gary Monti with reviving their hopes of making the play-offs following what their chairman described as the ‘shock’ resignation of Jack Wignall.

The latter and his assistant Lee Townrow departed Blackhouse Lane within hours of Saturday’s Thurlow Nunn League First Division North home fixture with Great Yarmouth Town kicking off. They cited ‘unrealistic’ expectations from the board amid limited resources.

Wignall, who had a previous joint managerial spell in charge of Cornard alongside Chris Tracey, was a first-team coach last season under Tom Clark, who replaced long-serving chairman Harvey Doherty following the conclusion of their 2022/23 campaign. It was one which saw the Ards miss out on their play-off target by 10 points, finishing seventh.

Gary Monti has been named the new Cornard United manager after leaving Southend Manor Pictured: Contributed
Gary Monti has been named the new Cornard United manager after leaving Southend Manor Pictured: Contributed

Little Oakley’s former promotion-winning manager Matt Carmichael was handed the managerial reigns but left after a couple of pre-season training sessions with Clark saying his work commitments had changed.

Initially, Clark served as joint-manager with Wignall before relinquishing the role in late September following Townrow’s arrival to help as assistant.

The latter pair ended with a run of four straight defeats in all competitions (two league) with Clark then stepping back into the dugout following Saturday morning’s news. The 2-1 home loss to Great Yarmouth Town that ensued sees Monti inherit a side 12th in the table and 10 points off their top five target.

Cornard United chairman Tom Clark Picture: Contributed
Cornard United chairman Tom Clark Picture: Contributed

“I’m really pleased to get Gary in,” said Clark, “I’ve known him a long time and am an admirer of his work at his previous clubs.

“He’s got good connections in terms of players and he’s a forward-thinking manager who has big ambitions for himself and the club he’s working for.

“Previously he got Wivenhoe into the play-offs (First Division South) a few years ago and we’re hoping he can emulate that form at Cornard.”

Monti brings with him John Thackray as his assistant and Joe Stevens as coach, both who spent four years at Wivenhoe with him prior to leaving at the end of last term to take over at First Division South outfit Southend Manor.

They oversaw their last game with the latter on Tuesday, a 3-1 home win against Burnham Ramblers, leaving Manor ninth in the table.

Their first signings have already gone through in the shape of AFC Sudbury Academy graduate Tyler Kemp, the number 10 most recently with Holland FC, and former Stanway Rovers centre-half Freddie O’Brien.

Addressing Wignall and Townrow's departure, Clark said: “From my point-of-view the news on Saturday from the previous management came as a bit of a shock.

“Jack and Lee are good people, they are knowledgeable in football but I think the expectations of the club with the resources available didn't match what they believed was right.

“From my point-of-view they left the position amicably and I wish them nothing but the best in the future.

“But I thought it was really important the transition happened quickly so that we’re able to build again and any players the new team want to get in allows them a period of time to work with them.”

Monti’s first game in charge is set to ironically be at home to one of his former clubs, Wivenhoe Town, on Saturday. The Dragons are one place and one point above them in the table but having played three more games.

Clark added: “Hopefully the results turn around and we can pick up a bit of form. The remit is to try and get in and around the play-offs.

“There’s still a long way to go in the season and you’ve only got to look at last season with where we were to where we finished and others did to see that.

“As a club we’ve got plenty of time to get up the table.”