Eastbourne United manager Tobi Hutchinson has already ruled his side out of a title challenge despite their blistering start to the season.
United have won eight from their opening nine league matches with their only defeat being a narrow 1-0 loss to big spending Southern Combination Premier title-chasers Haywards Heath.
Hutchinson’s men are sitting fourth in the fledgling table on 24 points just three behind the leaders Shoreham with a game in hand. Haywards Heath are second in the table and Pagham are third - all on 24 points.
“The top three will stay as it is,” said Hutchinson. “It will be a real scrap between those three and then I’d say that we will be one of quite a few teams battling for fourth.
“We have enjoyed a good start to the season, we can’t deny that but there is such a long way to go.
“What we do have in our favour is that we are starting to look like a team with goals in us. Last season we were very reliant on Liam (Baitup) to score. This year we can score from all across the pitch and that’s what you want to see.
“When Bailo is playing, he looks a real threat and we also have Steve Dallaway and Max Hollobone who is more than capable as well.”
United’s fine run of results continued last week as they fired four beyond Arundel at the Oval on Saturday and followed that with a Tuesday night 3-2 Sussex Senior Cup win against Littlehampton.
Hutchinson rated their free-flowing performance against Arundel as the best so far this season but was less than impressed with the comeback win against Littlehampton. Jack Cole and Daniel Hand fired Littlehampton into a 2-0 lead but two strikes from returning striker Bailo Camara and one from Dean Stevens sealed their spot in round two. “Both of the goals we conceded against Littlehampton came from us trying to play out from the back. It’s a difficult one because we want to play in a certain way but we got it wrong and we were punished.
“The pitch was not the best on Tuesday and it made it difficult for the lads. But credit to them they forced their way back.”
It proved to be a fine return for Camara who had been in Portugal and missed the previous four games. Hutchinson will hope the former Eastbourne borough striker can continue his good form tomorrow at Wick - especially with leading scorer Liam Baitup serving the final game of his suspension.
“We put Bailo straight into the side because he’s such a good player. He got a full 90 minutes under his belt which was important - to get the two goals was a real bonus.
“Liam misses Wick so Bailo could have a big part to play.”
Wick have struggled so far this season and were hammered last Saturday by Eastbourne Town.
They are fifth from bottom in the league table and have won just twice this season.
Hutchinson could also call upon youngsters Tyler O’Callaghan, Charlie Playford and Ryan Paul. “They are all from our under-21s and they have all had decent minutes in the first team. They have impressed and the transition has been seamless.”