Robbie Nightingale looks to the future with Cambridge City
Lilywhites eager to bounce back from play-off final defeat
Robbie Nightingale has backed Cambridge City to come back stronger after suffering Evo-Stik League, South East Division play-off final heartbreak.
The Lilywhites made the trip to Hartley Wintney on bank holiday Monday eager to get back to the Premier Division at the first time of asking having been relegated last season.
It was not to be for City, who finished sixth in the table, as their woes in the play-offs continued against a side they have beaten twice in the league this campaign, with Nicholas Ciardini scoring the only goal for Hartley Wintney in the 40th minute.
“I’m disappointed,” said City manager Nightingale. “We haven’t quite shown the performance as we could have done.
“It was one of those games, with the heat and the pitch. It’s a hard pitch to play on, but on the other end of it, it’s the same for both teams and we just came up a little bit short.
“The games against the better teams in this league are won or lost in the penalty boxes and we just came up short.
“We switched off in the 40th minute, a crucial time in the game, and that’s the difference really.
“If you look at Hartley, Beaconsfield, Rushden, they have kept a lot of clean sheets and we haven’t kept enough.”
Even in the immediate aftermath of the game, Nightingale was able to look to the future.
The Lilywhites have a young squad and plenty going in their favour, with a groundshare at Histon next season a prelude to hopefully moving into their new home at Sawston the following campaign.
“It’s something we will look to build on in the summer, but we’ve got a really good group in there,” said Nightingale.
“They have been a pleasure to work with. We’ve come up short, but it’s not the end of the world.
“We can sit and mope but we haven’t quite been good enough. We will be back, we’re on a little bit of an upward curve and today was one of those that was a little bit too far for us.
“Credit to Hartley as they have been an absolute pleasure over the three games and good luck in the future to them.
“We move on and can’t wallow in self pity. We put this behind us and we crack on.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of fans come to support us which I want to thank them for. Without them, where would we be?
“It’s a sad day that we haven’t been able to put a show on for them, but I hope that over the coming pre-season and season we see a lot of faces that haven’t been who have come today and seen what we’re trying to do.
“We’re a club that is on the up. We move to Histon next season which I think will do good for us because of the ground and the pitch so we move on.”
The future offerings may come in crucial as Nightingale is eager to keep as much of his squad together as possible for next season.
However, he is fully aware that there may be temptations put in the way of some of the players to go elsewhere, given some of their strong performances.
“We’re happy with what we’ve got in there, and the bigger thing for us is keeping hold of our so-called better players,” he said.
“There’s going to be a lot of predators hovering around [Ryan] Sharman and [James] Hall because they’ve scored a lot of goals but we want to keep as many good players as we can because we’re trying to build for 12 months’ time when we hopefully move into our brand new ground.”