The SML season can’t end quick enough for city sides

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IT’S BEEN a pretty horrible season for the majority of the city’s South Midlands League teams, although the good news is that it all comes to an end this weekend.

New Bradwell St Peter finish away at St Albans City Reserves this Saturday after they lost out 2-0 to Welwyn Garden City in their penultimate Division One game while Stony Stratford Town’s season came to an early end with a 4-0 loss at AFC Dunstable.

Bletchley Town took one point from two Division Two games, drawing 2-2 away at Winslow after losing 3-2 at Totternhoe, but there was good news for Old Bradwell who beat Risborough Rangers 3-2. They end the season at home to Kent Athletic, while it’s a trip to Pitstone & Ivinghoe for Bletchley and MK Wanderers host Aston Clinton.

TERRY Shrieves will take charge of his final Newport Pagnell game this Saturday when the United Counties League Premier season comes to an end.

Northampton Spencer visit Willen Road on what will be an emotional day for Shrieves who will step down as manager after six years in charge at the end of the season.

The 52-year-old announced that he would stand down after the Swans’ Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy win against Flackwell Heath two weeks ago, saying he was frustrated that the club wasn’t able to match his own personal ambitions.

Newport will finish their season in third place on Saturday whatever the outcome of their game with Spencer, but club chairman Geoff Cardno has told him there will be no increase in the budget for next year.

Cardno admitted that he’s tried to change Shrieves’ mind, but the man himself insists his decision has been made and he will leave the club for the last time as boss on April 30.

“I’m sure I’m doing the right thing and to change my mind now would be a sign of weakness,” he said. “I’m a stubborn man, and even if I did go and change my mind, nothing would change at the club. They have had a few years to change things and get it right but they haven’t.”

Despite him leaving the Swans in such circumstances, Shrieves says he still wishes the club well, and is even willing to help find a new boss, even if it will surely be a thankless task for whoever fills his shoes.

“I don’t want to sound big-headed, but it’s going to be a difficult job for whoever takes over,” he said. “But it is really important they get the right person in and keep things going well.

“We’ve increased the standard of football in the area and I don’t want all that hard work to be wasted. I’m still a MIlton Keynes man and want to see all our local clubs do well.”

Shrieves says he’s been completely honest in his reasons for leaving and that he hasn’t got another job lined up. However, since confirming that he’ll be leaving, he has been offered jobs elsewhere. And now he says he can’t wait for his final match at the helm on Saturday.

He said: “I can’t wait for it now, but hopefully we’ll win the game and end the season on a high. I was honest in my reasons for leaving, but I do want to stay in football.

“I think I’ve earned the right to not have to start from scratch again at a new club, and the offers I’ve had are not right for me now. Unlike when I took over at Newport, whoever gets the job there this time is going to be building on something good.”

The club has work to do in order to find Shrieves’ successor, and it’s been a busy few days for the Swans on the pitch too, with two away games over the Easter weekend. Shrieves’ men went down 2-1 away at Peterborough Northern Star on Saturday - a John Stead double after 12 and 34 minutes doing the damage and Daren Dykes’ late reply couldn’t prevent his team losing for the first time in seven.

But the Swans hit back on Monday with a 3-2 win at Irchester. Dykes got the visitors going with his 42nd goal of a remarkable season for him, and strike partner Darren Lynch added a second. A Ryan Cottingham double after 40 and 43 minutes levelled the interval score, but a wonder goal by that man Dykes early in the second period settled the game, leaving him on course to claim the UCL’s golden boot.

It’s been a terrible couple of weeks for Division One outfit Olney Town who finished their season with six straight defeats. They could still end in fourth place if final day results go their way, but it was a dreadful last weekend for the Nurserymen as they lost both their Easter matches while conceding seven goals in the process.

They lost 5-0 to league champions AFC Kempston Rovers on Saturday and 2-0 to Burton Park on Monday.

North Bucks & District League

THE season is coming to a close and there is just one league title in the four divisions left to be decided.

That is in the Premier Division where second placed Stewkley will leapfrog over current leaders Hale Leys United if they win their one remaining game. The rest of the champions have been confirmed over the past week, with the Intermediate League title going to MK Wanderers, the Division One title won by Celtic MK, and Division Two going to Olney Town Colts.

Stewkley may have everything to play for in the top flight, but MK Titans didn’t going into their meeting at the weekend, and so it was something of a shock that the division’s bottom side put up such a good fight, only going down by the odd goal in five. The other fixtures brought a 2-1 defeat for Loughton Manor against Silverstone and 4-3 win for Hale Leys at Brackley Sports.

MK Wanderers made sure of winning the Intermediate title with their 2-1 win over Denbigh Hall while Great Linford beat Heath Panthers 3-2 and MK Titans Res drew 3-3 with Twyford. Wanderers then beat Great Linford 2-0 on Monday..

Celtic MK confirmed themselves as the Division One champions thanks to a 9-0 thrashing of Grendon Rangers, followed by a 6-1 win at Hanslope on Monday. The Division Two crown was sealed by Olney Town when they beat Great Horwood 4-1.