Heath boss Painter insist the pressure is off his young side

Tim Martin has made the switch from Loxwood to Broadbridge Heath
Tim Martin has made the switch from Loxwood to Broadbridge Heath

Broadbridge Heath manager Steve Painter says the pressure is off his young side despite finishing ninth in their first season back in the top flight last season.

It was in impressive season despite Heath having to use 30 different players last season to combat a crippling injury crisis that plagued their whole campaign.

They will welcome back two long-term absentees in Kieron Purkis and Noel Etherington for this year in the newly-named Southern Combination League Premier Division.

With that pair bolstered by the arrival of Tim Martin, Lee Wragg, Scott Weller, Painter believes they are in good shape, although he is expecting a highly-competitive season.

He said: “We have had a really, really good pre-season; probably the best since I have been at the club.

“Paul Gillingham is our fitness coach and Nik Mulcahy has put together some good sessions so we go into the season a lot fitter.

“It will be a lot tougher this season, but it’s where we want to be and we are all looking forward to it. It will be a long season, but we will enjoy it. I have said that to the lads, we won’t put ourselves under any pressure.

“What’s great about our squad is it is still the nucleus of the young Heath youth side that have stepped up, so there is no pressure and we will finish where we finish and there will be some shocks along the way, I am sure of that.”

On his returning pair, Painter continued: “We missed Kieron Purkis last season as due to injury he played just two or three games and is a massive boost for the club.

“Noel has missed two seasons through injury, but is on the comeback and is training to get back sharp.

“We have also got new signings that we did not have last season and having those others back from injury is a real bonus.”

Mark Bevan and Danny Mobsby have both left the club and Painter added: “All those that have left have gone to play Ryman League football and I can’t knock them for that.

“They go with my best as they have gone on to play higher. Good luck to them and we are always there for a fall-back if they want to play county football again.”

Heath begin their campaign on Saturday away to newly-promoted Wick & Barnham United, who are now managed by former Steyning Town boss John Suter.

They then make the short trip up the road to Gorings Mead to face Horsham on Tuesday night.

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