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Shaun Saunders, Haywards Heath Town Manager

Saunders excited for Sussex Community Shield occasion

Photo courtesy of Grahame Lehkyj
Haywards Heath Town preview ahead of the Sussex Community Shield

The Sussex Community Shield in aid of Chestnut Tree House is due to take place on Tuesday 7 August between Brighton & Hove Albion and Haywards Heath Town.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Haywards Heath Town 
Sussex Community Shield in aid of Chestnut Tree House
Date: Tuesday 7 August 2018
Kick-off: 7:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA HQ, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

Shaun Saunders, who took the reigns at Haywards Heath Town three seasons ago, is excited about the opportunity to play competitively against Premier League side, Brighton & Hove Albion, prior to the new season in the Bostik League: “It’s a great test for us going into the season and we are going to relish that opportunity,” he said.

Saunders led his side to promotion from the Southern Combination Football League into the Isthmian League Division One - Bostik South East after sealing the top spot on the very last day of the season, and believes that his team are “more than ready to give a good account of themselves” against Brighton & Hove Albion’s strong under-23 side.

Haywards Heath know what to expect from Brighton & Hove Albion as they met in the third round of the Parafix Sussex Senior Challenge Cup in the 2017/18 season and despite being 1-0 up Brighton progressed to the next round after netting two goals in the latter stages of the match.

Saunders said: “They are a really good side, they are obviously a Premier League team so no matter what side or what age players they put out it’s going to be a tough evening for us. 

“Their fitness levels are fantastic; we will need to be switched on - they are very well drilled and my players know if they are not on their game then it could be a long night.”

The ex-County League player is a vastly experienced manager with an impressive track record that includes lifting the Sussex Community Shield with his previous club Peacehaven & Telscombe after edging East Preston in a penalty shoot-out, as well as clinching the Parafix Sussex Senior Challenge Cup with a 3-0 victory over Bognor Regis Town at the Amex Stadium back in 2014.

Since Saunders came on board as manager at Haywards Heath Town the club has strengthened significantly and the team have been familiar with success, including earning two promotions in three years and winning the Peter Bentley League Cup.

Despite his success he insists that his achievements as a manager is due to the groups of players he has managed over the years: “I can’t praise my players enough, they have never lost faith and I am just lucky to have the players that I have under me.”

The Heath boss has managed to secure the majority of his players from last season and has recruited some more which he is extremely pleased about: “Pre-season is going really well so far and I am happy that I have kept 95% of the players that we brought in from last year.”

Saunders is sure that Tuesday evening’s encounter against Brighton & Hove Albion at Culver Road will be an exciting encounter and a great occasion for all involved at the club: “It will be a really good night, it is something we are proud to be in and to be playing against players of that calibre would have been a dream three years ago.

“We are not fearful; we are going to enjoy it as we have nothing to lose.”

Entry prices for the Sussex Community Shield in aid of Chestnut Tree House are as follows:

£6.00 Adult (17+)
£3.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
£1.00 Child (16 and under)

For further details about the Sussex Community Shield please contact Competitions:

Competitions
T: 01903 753547
E: Competitions@SussexFA.com