Eastbourne Borough skipper Ian Simpemba believes a Boxing Day derby victory would go a long way to silencing the doubters at Priory Lane.
Borough go into the Whitehawk match in 12th place on the back of two league defeats while Whitehawk, who are 17th, have not won in the league since October 29.
Since then Whitehawk have been knocked out of the FA Cup and lost four and drawn one of their National League South matches.
Simpemba said, “It’s a cracking game for us. I love the Boxing Day derbies and to play against Whitehawk always adds a bit of extra spice.
“I’m sure it will be fierce and the tackles will be flying in. It’s a good one for the fans and hopefully they can really get behind us.
“They (Whitehawk) have not had the best of seasons so far and when you look at their squad you’d have to say they have under-achieved.
“Over the last three seasons they have arguably had the best squad in this division so I’m surprised they have not achieved more than they have.”
Borough’s problems don’t appear as bad as tomorrow’s visitors. Tommy Widdrington’s men maybe six or nine points behind where they might be but the squad remains decent, Priory Lane is one of the best facilities in the National South and the new 3G pitch continues to generate income.
There is also the promise of further significant investment in 2017 from Sussex based business ZBMC Limited. Despite this stability and potential for growth, a section of fans have voiced their dissatisfaction on Borough’s season so far and Widdrington, along with some players, have come in for criticism.
Expectations were high at the start of the season as much of the talk from Priory Lane focused on challenging at the ‘top end.’ So far, that challenge has not materialised and another middle of the table campaign has frustrated the Borough fans.
Simpemba added, “I’m old school to be honest and I don’t read too much of what is said. I have been around long enough to know that if you get a few wins under your belt then all is soon forgotten - it’s all about results.
“I feel this group of lads can put a run together we have the talent in the squad. “Training was great this week, it was slick and all the lads were buzzing, the spirit is good. Look at what happened at Sutton last season. They were mid table at the turn and went on a great run. The season is far from over, the players are not thinking like that in the slightest. We continue to work hard and improve.”
Borough face Whitehawk once again on New Year’s Day (3pm) as they travel to the Enclosed Ground and then seventh placed Poole Town visit Priory Lane on January 7.