Eastbourne United manager Tobi Hutchinson piled all the pressure on to Eastbourne Town ahead of the eagerly-awaited festive local derby at the Oval on Monday (11am).
Town top the Southern Combination Premier division table having lost just once in the league so far this season. Their latest 3-0 victory against struggling Hailsham was their 15th of the season but United are also on a decent run of form themselves.
Hutchinson’s men have lost just once in their last six matches and have picked up impressive points at champions Littlehampton and against third placed Horsham.
Their latest victory last Saturday, an excellent 4-3 comeback win against AFC Uckfield, lifted them to eighth in the league table and included an encouraging debut from new signing Max Hollobone.
Hutchinson said, “We can’t wait for it. The players, me and the whole club are looking forward to it. These are the type of games you want to be involved in.
“They (Town) are top of the league, it’s a local derby and we want to give a good account of ourselves and enjoy it.
“There is no pressure on us, it’s all on them. They are going for the league title. With their budget and what they are spending they have to finish in the top two at the very least. They know it and they know they can’t afford to slip up.
“We will be the underdogs but we know we can mix it with the so-called better teams in this division.
“We have shown that against Horsham and at Littlehampton. We are playing well, the players are starting to trust their own ability and starting to trust in the style we want to play.
“We have a team packed with players from Eastbourne and they will be up for this one, I’m sure about that.”
Striker Liam Baitup returned to the United side for the victory against Uckfield and is available for selection against Town. Defender Peter Featherstone will miss the game against his former club as he’s suspended.
Town boss John Lambert added, “It’s another great game for us and we can’t wait for it.
“We have already experienced and won the local derby against Hailsham but this is another test for us. “We have had them watched and we will know what to expect. We know that they will be out to shoot us down but that is part and parcel of being at the top and challenging for a title.
“We are aiming to win this league, we know we are a target for other teams, especially a local derby, but I’m sure we have the character in the team to deal with that.”
Town’s influential attacker Wes Tate missed the victory against Hailsham with a calf problem but is expected to return to the starting line-up for the trip to the Oval. Nathan Crabb, who scored against Hailsham, is also set to feature against his old club.”