Eastbourne Borough defender Ian Simpemba believes this impressive group of young players can go all the way to the play-offs this season.
Simpemba, 30, reached the finals with Dover last term and just lost out on promotion to the Premier in a thrilling 3-2 defeat to Salisbury.
Simpemba skippered Dover that day and scored with a header to take the game into extra-time.
He said, “I tell you, it’s up to us: we can go as far as we want to go. I got all the way to the play-off final last season (with Dover) and this group of lads can genuinely do just as well.”
Simpemba’s encouraging words came shortly after Borough’s first defeat of their Skrill South campaign at Staines last week. Despite last Saturday’s blip, the experienced defender believes Tommy Widdrington has pieced together a squad with the qualities required to be a success at this level.
“It (the Staines result) was a crazy scoreline. We were trying hard to finish the game off and Staines just came back at us. In spells the boys were absolutely fantastic, and going forward we are totally spot-on.
“There are one or two things to put right when we haven’t got the ball but we are sorting that as well. The young lads just give us everything – enthusiasm, hunger, energy, belief – when you are getting that from a player like, say, Matty Aldred, then everyone around him feeds from it. We are getting stronger and stronger.
Simpemba was brought to the club by Widdrington at the beginning of this season and the former Crawley, Lewes and Havant and Waterlooville man has made a huge impact to the side.
Last week former Brighton player Gary Hart cited Simpemba’s arrival as a key factor in Borough’s fine start to the season. His presence alongside last season’s player of the year Adam Watts has added experience and steel to the Borough rearguard.
While the 6ft 2” defender has improved the back line, Simpemba points to the contribution of Simon Johnson.
Johnson has flourished in a more advanced role this season and has weighed in with three goals from five matches so far this season.
“The lads have been giving Johnno a bit of stick because he seems to have played about 300 games for Borough and scored four goals, but this year he’s been on fire.”