Sands targets promotion push after signing new deal

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After agreeing terms on a new two-year contract, John Sands has switched his focus to scoring the goals that will keep Needham Market firmly in the Ryman League Premier Division promotion hunt.

The frontman struggled for form and fitness during the early part of his career at Bloomfields, having arrived from King’s Lynn Town in August.

Less than a month later there were suggestions the two parties had severed ties as clubs closer to the 29-year-old’s Lincolnshire home started to circle.

However, a reinvigorated Sands has found the net seven times in nine appearances for The Marketmen over recent weeks — a return that has earned the striker a fresh deal.

“There were a few issues at the start, but they have been sorted out,” said the former Bury Town striker.

“This is a good club with great staff. I am really enjoying my football again and playing with a smile on my face.

“The manager (Mark Morsley) has been fantastic with me and I already knew Wilks (Richard Wilkins, assistant) well.

“I appreciate everything they have done for me and that is why I am looking to stick around for a while.”

In previous interviews with the Free Press, Wilkins has resisted the temptation to talk his side up as promotion contenders, despite currently being placed a lofty third and just one point behind the leaders.

Instead, and with last season’s nail-biting relegation battle in mind, the message coming out from the Needham coaching staff has centred around preserving their Step Three status.

But Sands has bigger ambitions and is determined to play a key role in helping his side challenge for a place in next year’s Vanarama National League South.

“I think the management do not want us getting carried away, but myself and the squad believe,” added the ex-Mildenhall Town player.

“I am always confident of scoring a goal or two, and if I can get at least 20 that could be vital.

“There are some good teams in this league, but we are building something impressive at Needham.

“I would be disappointed if we do not at least make the play-offs and if we can put together an amazing run, maybe win the title.”

Having missed the 1-0 win over AFC Sudbury on Tuesday due to a tooth abscess, Sands is hopeful of returning to the squad for tomorrow’s home game against Tonbridge Angels (3pm).

n Bury Town suffer back-to-back defeats — see page 148