Little Common player-manager Russell Eldridge is encouraging his players to embrace the challenge as the football club prepares to embark on an historic season.
The Commoners will line-up in the Southern Combination Football League Premier Division for the first time ever during the 2018/19 campaign, which will kick-off tomorrow (Saturday).
Eldridge said: “It’s an exciting time for us and we’ve got embrace it. We’ve got to play with no fear and I’m sure if we do that, we’ll pick up the results along the way. I think we belong at this level, and now it’s a matter of going out there and proving it.”
Common are stepping up a level following their magnificent Division One and Division One Challenge Cup double last term.
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“We had a long, hard think at the end of the season,” continued Eldridge. “We knew we possibly couldn’t play the way we did last year because of the step up in quality.
“This year we’re going to have to be a bit more disciplined in the way we play and be a bit more tactically aware as well. We’ve been working on a new formation and few different things tactically.”
To help cope with the step up, Common have brought in Sam Willett and Chris Cumming-Bart from Eastbourne Town, former Eastbourne Borough and Bexhill United midfielder Toby Clifford, and Jordan Astell - an England futsal player who has now finished university in Loughborough.
Nick Richardson has returned from university and Dave Ammoun from long-term injury, and Eldridge says one or two others may also be added to a squad which has greater depth than last term, even though Sam Winter is taking a break from football and Louis Walker has moved on.
Common will get underway tomorrow with a trip to a Shoreham side which last season was playing two levels above them in Bostik League Division One South.
“It’s a good one to start with I think,” Eldridge went on. “We’re kind of stepping into the unknown a little bit. We won’t know what to expect from them and I’m sure they won’t know what to expect from us. But it’s the first game of a very long season and whatever happens we know there’s a long journey ahead.”
Common’s first home game will be next Tuesday night when they take on landlords Eastbourne United AFC. Kick-off at The Oval is 7.45pm.
“It’s an exciting one,” Eldridge added. “We’ve got to make sure we try to pick up as many points as possible at home.
“Staying in the league will be a good achievement for us, but we’re ambitious and obviously we want to do as well as we can. We’ll be looking to pick up as many points as possible and finish as high as we can. We’ll take it one game at a time and see where we end up.
“The start sets the tone for the rest of the season. Looking at the first month’s fixtures, I think they’re a good set of fixtures and we’ll have a target of points that we’d like to get.
“We’ve had a decent pre-season. We’ve played okay for spells, but the friendlies are for finding things out and looking at different scenarios, and bits and pieces, and trying to get minutes into the legs of as many boys as possible.
“Pre-season has to be done in terms of the work and the friendlies, but ultimately everyone wants to be playing games where the result is meaningful. We just want to get started really, we’re looking forward to the weekend.”
Cumming-Bart is on holiday for the first two games, Astell is away for tomorrow’s match and Sam Ellis is away for Tuesday’s encounter.
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