Isthmian League

Saunders | “I’m really excited about being back at home for Boxing Day”

It’s been a while, but finally on this Boxing Day, the Hawks return home for another hotly anticipated South Downs derby with Lewes. If the last meeting just over a month ago is anything to go by, it promises to be another classic at The Enclosed Ground, as we caught up with the man in charge to gather his thoughts ahead of today’s league encounter.

So Shaun, after the past few weeks on the road, how much are you looking forward to being back at home on Boxing Day?

We love playing at ours. I’ve looked at the fixtures, three of the next four at home, and that’s big for us because it’s a tough place to come for sides, and we love it at home. The little run of away games that we’ve just had… they’ve been tough games, really tough.

We picked up a few points along the way. Tough away games at Cray [Wanderers], Enfield [Town], Hornchurch. On the spin those away games have been tough, with a really stretched squad. We picked up a few injuries, which caught up with us a little bit, so I’m really excited about being back at home for Boxing Day.

We haven’t played a home match on a Saturday since the last meeting between these sides. Do you expect a similar sort of afternoon?

I expect a tough one again. I think Lewes are a very good side, and it being a local derby it adds that extra bit of spice. So yeah, I’m expecting a real tough one, but we’re all really excited to be a part of it.

We’ve added a few new (and old!) faces to the squad – what do you expect them to bring to the side?

Quality. Real quality. Of the players that we’ve brought in, they are all used to playing at this level. Rob [O’Toole] brings leadership, Jaden [Perez] quality, Alex [Malins] brings competitions and quality, while Cam Tutt and Jaden have dropped a level to bring a bit of quality. Charlie Harris again… quality! All of them come with a good attitude, and it gives us competition in the side where I think as of late, the players know pretty much that they’re starting. And that’s never healthy. If nothing else, I think what they give is an extra edge to the squad, and competition for places. The squad in numbers hasn’t had the strength in depth that you would like and that you need at this level. I’ve got some conversations to be had, and I’m tossing and turning with the team in mind for today… which is exactly where you want to be. The squad is now a good size, it’s got competition in all areas so I’m pleased, really pleased!

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