Haywards Heath Town and Burgess Hill Town ready for big kick off
Haywards Heath Town and Burgess Hill Town are champing at the bit to get the 2021-22 Isthmian South East season underway on Saturday
The Blues welcome Sussex rivals East Grinstead Town to Hanbury Park for their first competitive game since December of last year.
Shaun Saunders’ side have recorded three wins, two draws and two defeats in their pre-season friendlies.
Notable results include a 1-0 win over Isthmian Premier Division outfit Mertsham and a goalless draw with Horsham, who also play one league higher.
In the short term, Saunders is looking to pick up a win over the Wasps after a positive pre-season.
But in the long term, the Haywards Heath boss wants his side to be in a good position in the Isthmian south east come Christmas.
He said: “We’re really looking forward to the season. It’s a fresh start for us, under new leadership, and to have fans back in grounds is great for everyone.
“Our aims are to be in this division next season. We have a really strong squad, but I’ve said to the lads let’s see where we are the other side of Christmas.
“If we’re within touching distance of the leading pack we’ll push hard and see where it takes us.
“East Grinstead Town, under new management, will be a tough one but we’re at home.
“Pre-season has been a good one, so we’ll be looking to take the points.”
Meanwhile, Burgess Hill Town kick off their Isthmian South East season away to Kent-based Ashford Town.
The Hillians have enjoyed an excellent pre-season campaign, recording five victories, one stalemate and two defeats. Hill claimed the notable scalp of a Brighton & Hove Albion XI, beating them 1-0.
Earlier in pre-season, Hill had gone five games unbeaten, which included a valiant 1-1 draw at home to Football League outfit Crawley Town.
The Hillians can be heartened by the the fact that their two defeats have come against a pair of Isthmian Premier Division sides, Carshalton Athletic and Horsham.
Burgess Hill Town manager Jay Lovett said: "I'm very much looking forward to the start of the season, as it feels a very long time since we've played any competitive football.
"It's nice having pre-season and getting back into the flow of playing games again, but nothing is the same as competitive matches.
"The main focus this season, is to improve from following seasons and progress as a club.
"I haven't had a chance to complete a full season yet with the club, since taking over as manager, so it would be nice to get a full season in without any stop and starts.
"But it will be interesting to see as Covid is still around and a few pre-season games have been re arranged or called off because of it.
"Playing Ashford away, which will be a very tough opener, will help us see where we are at.
"They have been up at the top in the last two short seasons and are tipped by a lot, to be up there again.
"We will go there, give it our best shot and what will be, will be.