Horsham YMCA have been boosted by seven new signings with their sole aim of gaining promotion to the Ryman League this season.
Peter Buckland has been targeting a return for a number of years and has added a number of experienced players to aid their push this season.
Joining the club are defenders Charlie Cook (ex-Redhill and Three Bridges) and Tom Gilbert (Dorking Wanderers and Horsham), midfielders Matt Simpson (Loxwood and Horsham), Max Howell (Lancing), Guy Harding (Peacehaven) and Alex Spinks (Peacehaven).
The only two departures from last season’s squad are Dan Evans, who has joined Dorking, and Luke Donaldson, who has left for Lancing.
YM play their opening game in the Southern Combination League Premier Division on Saturday, August 13 when they are away to Peacehaven & Telscombe, then on Tuesday, August 16 are at home to Wick.
Buckland said: “Our sole target is promotion, above FA Cup, FA Vase and Sussex Senior Cup.
“One, two or three teams go up, depending on ground gradings. It is going to be highly competitive with Chichester, Pagham, Newhaven, Eastbourne Town, Crawley Down, Loxwood, Broadbridge Heath and ourselves all in contention.”
YM begin their campaign this Saturday with an FA Cup extra preliminary round tie at home to Kent club Hollands and Blair.
Buckland said: “They are at the same level as us - step five (Southern Counties East League) where they finished second. Kent sides are always difficult because they all their top players play for fewer sides than here, where they are spread between more teams.
“The FA Cup is a special competition - we are not going to win it but the prize money is worth winning - last season we won £7,500 before losing in the replay to Aveley in the second qualifying round four matches in.
“I say to the lads they will be able to tell their grandchildren ‘I played in the FA Cup’. More and more clubs are getting the facilities to be able to enter the FA Cup.”
YM have also reinstated a reserve team into the Southern Combination League under-21 West Division.
Buckland said: “We have been scouring the county looking for everyone’s left overs, but instead of doing that we want to develop our own players.
“We want to gel with our youngsters. If you pick up one nugget it’s worth it.”
YM have so far played four pre-season games, winning two against TD Shipley 4-1 and Roffey 3-1, drawing against Redhill 1-1 and losing to Combined Counties Premier side Guildford City 3-0, who were very strong.
On Saturday they lost 4-1 against groundshare tenants Horsham before 2-1 to Lewes on Tuesday.
Buckland, who is still aiming to sign one more player, said: “So far I am very pleased, there have been a number of new players coming in a short time and it’s worked very well.”
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