Royston Town boss Steve Castle targeting the title after non-league allocations announcement

Royston Town manager Steve Castle on the touchline. Picture: DANNY LOO

Royston Town manager Steve Castle on the touchline. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Royston Town boss Steve Castle said he is targeting the title as the Crows’ league allocation is decided.

The Crows have been allocated to the new Southern League Central for next season, joining just eight of the sides they faced last season on the way to a seventh place finish in their first ever step three campaign.

The familiar foes in the new league include Kettering Town, King’s Lynn Town, Hitchin Town and Biggleswade Town, with Tamworth one of the 13 new opposition.

Speaking to CrowSport, Castle said: “It’s into the unknown but it freshens it up.

“It levels the playing field as there’s new opposition for everyone.

“You’ve still got teams like Kettering and King’s Lynn so it’s still very tough and it would still be a massive achievement if we were to get promotion.

“Every time I’m going to go into a campaign wanting to win it, my job is to get promoted and tackle the problems after that.”

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Of the 13 unfamiliar teams for next season, Tamworth were relegated from the National League North, while Alvechurch, Bedworth United and AFC Rushden and Diamonds rise from step-four.

Six clubs including Rushall Olympic and Barwell join from the Northern Premier with three, including Leiston, come across from the Isthmian Premier.

Castle picked out ‘big club’ Tamwell as an important game for next season, but of the new teams, Leiston were the highest finishers at step-three, losing out in their play-off semi-final against Dulwich Hamlet after a fifth place league finish.

Castle added: “The real unknowns are Barwell and Coalville but I’m the type of manager that worries about how our own team performs rather than other opposition.

“We’ve got to be at our best and if we can play to our maximum we’ll be alright.”

Of the nine teams neither promoted or relegated, the average league position was tenth, indicating a league about as tough as last season’s Southern Premier.

With trips to Hereford and Merthyr Town no longer necessary, the Crows will have eight trips of more than 100 mile this campaign, most of them in the direction of Birmingham , though Castle said the travel was ‘no real drama.’

On his side’s chances in the new division, the legendary former Leyton Orient midfielder said: “It depends on recruitment, how many we can keep and how willing the board are to being adventurous.

“They always have been adventurous so I don’t see why they won’t be again. We’ll have a meeting in a week or so but I’m quite optimistic.

“I think it’s very important to go up at the right time, whether it’s next year I don’t know.”

The Crows faithful will be waiting nervously for an announcement on the future of hot-shot striker Adam Marriott this summer.

Marriott managed 31 goals this term despite missing large chunks of the season. The former Stevenage man told CrowSport in January he’d like to make a return to the football league, but Royston will be desperate to keep hold of the 27-year-old, who once scored 40-goals in a season at step-three for Cambridge City.