Shaun Saunders believes last season may have been a ‘one-off’ after Haywards Heath Town reached the play-offs in their first ever campaign in the BetVictor South East.
Despite a positive pre-season, in which his side scored 18 goals and recorded five wins, Saunders understands that his team must be at their best if they wish to repeat last season’s success.
He said: “We are in no doubt that this season will be a tougher season for us.
“This year there are tough teams like Cray Valley and Whitehawk coming into the league.
“Last year nobody knew much about us. We were tipped to go down and that worked in our favour.”
After promotion from the SCFL Premier Division in 2017/18, Heath finished an impressive fifth in there maiden campaign at Step 4.
This secured them a play-off spot and the chance for a second consecutive promotion. But they fell short, losing 3-0 in the semi-final to promotion winners Horsham.
Saunders stressed that a repeat of last year’s play-off push may be hard to come by. But he did express his desire to challenge for promotion again.
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He said: “Last season I would say was a one-off and this year will be a lot harder.
“The club’s remit for me is to make sure we stay in the league but I would like to do what we did last year or maybe go further.”
This season marks the first time the Blues will take on local rivals Burgess Hill Town in the league, following Hill’s relegation from the Premier Division last season.
Saunders said: “I think it is great there are more locals coming in which adds to the spice of the league.
“There are a lot of derbies this year with Burgess Hill, Three Bridges and East Grinstead. We are looking forward to it.”
Heath start their campaign at East Grinstead Town on August 17 and Saunders said: “It’s never easy there. I have managed a long time now and East Grinstead is always a tricky fixture.
“It is a derby and as always Matt (Longhurst) will have them well organised. We’ll be looking to be as competitive as we can and get something from it.”