Football fans spoilt for choice

It may seem like high summer but the football season gets underway this Saturday when local fans are spoilt for choice.

Wednesday, 7th August 2013, 12:29 pm

All four senior teams, and that now includes Haywards Heath in their eagerly-awaited return, are at home on the opening day.

The local quartet will be quietly optimistic and none more so than Ryman South Burgess Hill, who entertain Merstham.

The new regime consolidated superbly for an eighth place finish last season and this time around manager Ian Chapman will be looking to build on that.

He has added midfielders Paul Armstrong, Scott Kirkwood and Spencer Slaughter to last season’s squad, along with Richard Greenfield and Craig Knowles. Striker Danny Curd has also returned to the club.

At the back, defenders Tom Graves, Max Lake-Edwards and Joe Kay will be vying for places ahead of experienced new keeper Alan Mansfield.

He comes in for Mark Zawadski, who along with Nicky Wheeler has departed for a higher level of football.

A feature of this season will be the new Ryman U21 League team, managed by Ryan Gayler.

In the County League Hassocks will be hoping to fulfil their promise with a high finish and first senior cup success, while at St Francis Rangers manager Geoff Pitcher will be looking to build on last season’s massive improvement under his direction.

The two-way flow between the clubs continues, with James Westlake, Jamie Weston and Ellliott Butler all returning to Rangers. Hassocks have also lost Lee Cooper and keeper Simon Lehkyj, who are trying their luck in the higher grade at Crawley Down and Worthing.

On the credit side for the Beacon club, Mark Price has arrived from Ringmer, Jamie Ingham returns after leaving in 2008 and popular keeper Jack Simpson is back.

Successful reserve team manager Roy Staughton steps up to assist Mickey Jewell and Mark Dalgliesh with the 1st team, while Tim Wilkins and Phil Wickwar manage the reserves.

Hassocks start at home to Littlehampton, while Rangers entertain Rye.

Haywards Heath boss Simon Corless is happy with pre-season despite the loss of gifted central defender Guy Harding to Chichester.

He is replaced by experience Mike Gardner, with other new arrivals being Lee Wragg, Ben Holding, Eric Mvale and Dave Moores.

SATURDAY (3pm) - Ryman League 1 South: Burgess Hill v Merstham. Sussex County League, Division 1: Chichester City v Dorking Wands; Crowborough Ath v East Preston; East Grinstead Town v Pagham; Hailsham Town v Lingfield; Hassocks v Littlehampton Town; Lancing v Ringmer; Selsey v Horsham YMCA; Shoreham v Arundel; St Francis Rgrs v Rye Utd; Worthing Utd v Newhaven. Division 2: Eastbourne Utd AFC v Rustington; Haywards Heath Town v Seaford Town; Mile Oak v Bexhill Utd; Oakwood v Little Common; Saltdean Utd v Loxwood; Steyning Town v Broadbridge Heath; Storrington v Midhurst; Westfield v Wick & Barnham Utd.

MONDAY (7.45) - Sussex County League, Division 1: Chichester City v Lancing.

TUESDAY (7.45) - Ryman League 1 South: Walton & Hersham v Burgess Hill. Sussex County League, John O’Hara League Cup 1st rd: Haywards Heath Town v Loxwood; Saltdean Utd v Rustington; Wick & Barnham Utd v Steyning Town. Division 1: Arundel v Worthing Utd; Crowborough Ath v Shoreham; Dorking Wands v Hailsham Town; Hassocks v East Grinstead Town; Horsham YMCA v Ringmer; Pagham v Littlehampton Town; Selsey v East Preston; St Francis Rgrs v Lingfield.

WEDNESDAY (7.45) - Sussex County League Division 1: Newhaven v Rye Utd.