It’s been a whirlwind Whitehawk return for Alfie Rogers who, after scoring the dramatic last-gasp winner against Margate in the Velocity Cup on his returning debut a few months ago, has got back to a similar vein of form that was so often seen for his previous club, Newhaven.
Three goals in as many matches with the play-offs drawing near, up first is a stern test on the road east to Ramsgate, where a mere point separates the two sides with that coveted 2nd place up for grabs.
Victory on Saturday would go a long way to securing potential back-to-back home playoff matches, but let’s talk to the forward himself as he previews tomorrow’s crucial clash on the Kent Riviera.
So Alf, how have you settled back in at the club after being away for a few years?
“Yeah! It’s been really good, I’ve loved every minute of it. Needless to say it took me a while to get going and obviously after scoring on my debut it’s a bit tough to keep that ball rolling but the lads are quality, I knew them all before coming anyway but they’ve all helped me get my feet stuck in, get settled and it’s started to pay dividends now. Confidence is high, I’m really enjoying working under Shaun [Saunders] again, who I’ve known since I was 15/16!”
Scoring a wealth of goals for Newhaven in your time there and now just starting to hit a similar vein of form for the Hawks… would you say the standard of football is higher in this league?
“Yeah, I would! I’d say it’s a different game: It’s quicker, it’s stronger – that’s no disrespect to Newhaven of course, I think they’d comfortably be able to hold their own in this league, but I think in terms of playing in a side like Whitehawk, the players that you’re playing with can help you play better, lift your game, and I’d say that’s the main thing I’ve found.”
And so onto to tomorrow, a big game with much at stake, what sort of afternoon are you expecting?
“It’s a massive game, we’re excited. It’s going to be cagey, they’ll have a lot of fans there but it’s just a case of us sticking together, sticking to the game plan that the manager has set out and going there trying to get three points.
It’s the big one, and I don’t really know what to expect to be honest! It’s just a case of focusing on ourselves, and if we play our best then we’ll come away with three points.”
With this being a game where maximum points are crucial, would you say the shackles are off a little bit, and there’ll be a bit more freedom to the side?
“I think so. Obviously with it being a must win, we know what the benefits are, and we know what we need to do to get that. I’d say freedom, definitely – there’s a little bit of pressure but people thrive under pressure, and I think the team we have here are capable of doing that.”
Training last night of course, how was the squad feeling ahead of the weekend trip to Thanet?
“Yeah, it’s good! The energy, the buzz… it’s all there. Everyone’s focused, and quietly confident. We all know what we need to do, we’re all aligned on the same challenge that we’ve got to face so we’re buzzing, we’re looking forward to it and we just want the games to come thick and fast now.”