NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Gillies confident ahead of Linnets challenge

It may be the biggest challenge of his career so far, but one that he’s certainly ready for.

Striker Craig Gillies’ switch to step three King’s Lynn Town, who ply their trade in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division, may leave some wondering if he can succeed at a higher standard.

But Gillies, who netted 38 goals for step-seven Chatteris Town in the Kershaw Premier Division last season and finished runner-up in the league’s golden boot, is confident he can compete a few levels above than what he has been used to.

“Step Three is a massive step up and I really like the challenge to see how I can compete at that level”, he said.

“I enjoyed my time at Lynn last time and performed alright.

“I played three, scored three, but with work commitments, it was difficult at the time.

“I am going there with the intentions to score goals and win games, so hopefully it goes to plan.

“The club’s ambitions are to get promoted and be challenging along with a good cup run, so hopefully I can contribute well to that.”

The Lilies front-man has signed a one-year deal with the Linnets after impressing Lynn manager Ian Culverhouse, having previously featured for the club’s reserve side last year.

But Gillies admits there are still areas that can be bettered.

“There are a couple of aspects to my game I know I need to improve, but hopefully with a coach of Ian’s calibre, he can help get the best out of me.

“I had several other offers from clubs in different leagues, but when I knew Ian was interested in signing me, it was a massive privilege.

“From someone who has such experience was a big plus for signing for Lynn.”

The 25-year old forward also had strong words for Lilies boss Ashley Taylor, who has overseen his development since teaming up at Doddington United.

“Ash has been amazing since we first joined forces at Doddington.

“I have so much respect for Ash and I’ve loved playing every second for him.

“I’m sure our paths will cross again.”

Star striker returns at just the right time for The Lilies

Since Craig Gillies moved to King’s Lynn Town from Chatteris Town earlier in the year, those linked with The Lilies may have thought a bright season could be heading downhill. But having won six of the seven games without their main man upfront, hopes for a successful season are still on the agenda. And with Gillies reuniting with his old teammates and back in the goals, those hopes could well still be achieved.

His return was marked in style with a hat-trick in a 3-1 victory over Soham Town Rangers Reserves in Kershaw Senior A in midweek, which the forward was quite surprised about.

“Obviously I was happy getting a hat-trick” said Gillies. “I have not played for four weeks so I was not sure how my match fitness was going to be.”

Welcome back! Gillies' return could be the catalyst for success this season
Welcome back! Gillies’ return could be the catalyst for success this season

After leaving King’s Lynn Town Reserves due to personal reasons, Gillies’ goal-scoring form has not dropped, having netted four in three games for The Linnets’ second string. Although his heroics in front of goal have been apparent, the reasons for moving back to the Fenland outfit were not.

“It was just too far”, Gillies added. “It was 35-40 minutes to get to King’s Lynn for training and games and the away games I left at 10:30am and did not get back till 8pm! I enjoyed the games, but before, after and at training, they (his former teammates) had their friend zones and it was hard to fit in.

“I realised that I just want to enjoy my football whilst playing with my mates and that is exactly what I have got with Chatteris. I would not say anyone in particular persuaded me. It was more about me missing the lads and feeling like I should be there playing my part and helping them.”

From playing in a considerably higher league, the level of football may have been too far of a step to adapt to, but Gillies felt otherwise.

“I enjoyed playing at that level, I felt comfortable”, he said. “Scoring three in three games, one of which was against top of the league who were unbeaten, was a confidence boost and proved I can play at that standard. As I was not completely settled, I did not feel I had played to my potential in those games.”

Bringing good form into a lower division is not always easy to accomplish, which the ex-Doddington United man wants to continue with his new side.

Gillies said: “Hopefully I can carry on from the form I was in before I left. We have a great bunch with a lot of quality and players in the reserves that could easily step up if or when needed.”

Currently the league’s top scorer with 20 goals, Gillies’ form will be key if The Lilies do claim their bid for glory this season, which could be helped by another of his aims.

“I target a goal a game, so hopefully I can maintain that”, he added. “The main target is promotion and we have three cup finals. I fully believe with the quality we have in the squad, we can every one of our remaining games. We are a humble team and we are going to take each game as it comes.”

With a taste for silverware and an eye for goal, Chatteris Town may well be in for a memorable campaign with the help of a prolific talisman.