How did your preseason go?
Simon – Pre-season is never about getting results as far as I’m concerned. It’s about fitness, settling new players in (and there’s been a few!), trying out new systems and styles and ensuring everyone is up to speed for the start of the season. Performances were ok, as most people already know our squad has had an almost complete overhaul this summer and the new lads that have come in have improved us, with no disrespect to last seasons’ squad, massively.
Jay – Pre-season went well with eight new players bedding in. Two losses against higher opposition Torquay & Exeter, two wins v Barnstaple & The Marines, a draws v Mousehole & Cullompton and a loss against Tavistock with a lot of trialists. The pre-season was all about fitness and players gelling rather than the results.
Are you feeling confident heading into the new season?
Simon – I’m confident yeah but definitely not getting carried away in the same breath. As long as we can improve on how last season ended then that will do for me and anything on top of that is a bonus.
Jay – I’m always confident and with the quality brought in it should be a good season. We are looking to build after just avoiding relegation the last campaign and the play-offs would be an excellent result with a cup run just to put the icing on the cake. I would settle for mid table and a cup run though. It’s all about progressing.
And what are your hopes for your team during the season ahead?
Simon – Similar to what I’ve just said to be honest, improve on last season plus everyone loves a good cup run so that would be great too.
Jay – I hope we continue with a more cultured passing game but able to still mix it up when the need arises. We need a good start to build confidence then we can crack on.
Which of your players are you most excited about this season?
Simon – This is going to sound like such a cop out but all the lads, the new and the returning ones from last season are all a great bunch and exciting to watch. For fear of sounding like a stuck record we can see how the new lads and having Scott Rogers in as joint manager has improved us already.
Jay – There are a few but having River back as captain is massive and there are other new recruits like Nick Grimes, Puggy and George Nancekeville who will all be key additions. Also our new keeper Lewis Williamson is one to watch out for.
You drew 2-2 in your opening game despite going 2-0 up. Frustration or just happy to get that first point on the board?
Simon – Frustrating definitely. To be 2-0 up and in control it’s got to be two points dropped but give Hayes & Yeading credit they dug in and managed to grind out a result. Expect them to do well in their debut season.
Jay – At first we were all disappointed as being 2-0 you hope to see out the game. However, looking back Hayes & Yeading will be no pushovers for anyone in this league and it will turn out to be a good point. It’s a learning curve against big, strong teams and I am sure it will help us in the long term.
What away day are you looking forward to going to most?
Simon – There are plenty of decent away days and I always look forward to getting to grounds I’ve not been to before.
Jay – I always enjoy the hospitality at Farnborough & Walton Casuals. For atmosphere Merthyr & Weston Super Mare are up there plus there’s always the added spice of Taunton & Truro.
Who will be the dark horse of the league this year?
Simon – Gosport Borough have strengthened well over the summer and started with a great result. Expect them to surprise a few after narrowly beating the drop last term.
Jay – Weston-super-Mare have a good manager and a strong squad. Once Owen Howe is back they will be very hard to beat and will score goals.
Tip for the title?
Simon – Tough call. Some very strong sides in the division. Taunton went close last time so will be looking to go again, expect Poole, Salisbury and Met. Police to be up there again too.
Jay – Poole Town look strong again and having just missed out in the play-offs they will be looking to go up automatically. I will let you know more on Saturday after our visit last Tuesday.
Simon – Got to go for a Tivvy win. I expect it will be close again though, 2-1 like last season.
Jay – Walton Casuals 2-3 Tiverton Town
You’ve starving and have exactly £3 in your pocket. What’s your meal deal?
Simon – KFC box meal for one 👍
Jay – Chicken Tika Sandwich, Big Beef Hula Hoops & a Health Bar (Cadbury’s double decker)
If I was allowed a bit more cash it would be the noodle bar at Leigh Delamere Services but that’s a story for another day. 😂