St Albans City boss Gray believes new signings will help team avoid relying on John Frendo's goals

The Saints want other players to support John Frendo with goals this season: Robert Walkley

The Saints want other players to support John Frendo with goals this season: Robert Walkley

First published in Sport St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by

James Gray believes St Albans City’s new signings will help prevent the club from relying on star striker John Frendo this season.

The Saints finalised their squad to take into the Conference South season, which starts on Saturday, after bringing in strikers Warren McBean and Elliot Buchanan.

Frendo scored 30 goals in the Southern League last year but the Saints management have made no secret of their desire to have more players supporting him in the scoring stakes.

McBean has experience at Conference South level with teams such as Welling United and Lewes while Buchanan is a former Boreham Wood and Stevenage forward.

Joint boss Gray said: “He [Buchanan] is versatile and a forward thinking player who can go up front or on the wings.

“He came highly recommended and has played at a good level with Stevenage and Newport County. It gives us more of a goal threat which we needed because last year we relied too much on John Frendo. We had to rectify that.”

Gray added: “With him [McBean], the fact he has experience at this level was the main thing which appealed.

“He hasn’t competed for about 18 months because of an Achilles problem so he’s done very well for a lad that’s not played for so long. He is a goalscorer and we need goals. He took his chance here so we decided to sign him up.”

City will have a squad of 20 players heading into the new season and Gray claims the club have no plans to add to this in the immediate future.

He said: “I think they will be the last two signings for a little while. I really believe we have a strong squad which will be competitive.

“Going into the Conference South is a little bit of the unknown so it will be a season of learning. But I think we can match anyone in the division.

“We’ve got a squad of about 20 but if players find themselves not being involved then we may look to loan some of them out.”

City finished their pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to a Stevenage XI on Monday night.

The hosts opened the scoring on the hour mark when John Kyriacou sent in a low cross which was tucked home by captain James Comley.

But Stevenage equalised in the 68th minute when Dale Gorman fired a fierce strike past goalkeeper Joe Welch.

The Saints booked their place in the semi-finals of the Herts Charity Cup after a 4-1 win at Ware on Saturday.

A defensive mix-up enabled Steve Wales to fire the visitors in front before Loick Pires struck a spectacular shot off the crossbar and into the net.

Buchanan fired home their third six minutes before the break to effectively seal the win.

Ware pulled one back through a deflected Khale Da Costa strike before Pires headed in his second of the match for the Saints.

Gray, who has sent defender James Kaloczi on loan to Wingate & Finchley for a month, said: “It was a potential banana skin with their facilities and the pitch, although we were pleasantly surprised with it.

“It was a half decent performance and we did what we needed to do to get through. Going three goals up did most of the hard work and it put us through to another semi-final so we’re only a couple of wins away from a trophy.

“There is still lots to work on but it was just good to be involved in a competitive game after all our pre-season matches.”

He added: “The fact it was a competitive game shows we turned up and got the result required. I thought we played some really good football in the first half.

“Loick scored two goals including a worldy which will take something special to stop that being the best of the season.

“Elliot Buchanan scored and got in another 90 minutes so for those two to play the entire match was encouraging and a good workout.”

The Saints celebrated their promotion with a trip to Spain and the manager believes the spirit and togetherness of the squad will take them a long way this season.

Gray said: “We’ve had a trip to Marbella this summer along with several BBQs, so the squad is really tight and I expect us to go into the season firing.

“We’ve had a good pre-season with some difficult matches against Eastleigh and Watford but some good displays such as the Harrow Borough game.

“We’ve had a mixed bag but in terms of the squad it hasn’t been altered too much and the new players have settled in seamlessly.”

Gray has called on the supporters to continue their backing of the team after they helped them on their way to play-off success last season.

He said: “We had 3,500 fans against Mansfield and big crowds against Cambridge and at Chesham in the play-off final so hopefully they can play their part again.”

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