WORTHING Football Club boss Chris White will have his side ready to hit the ground running after they were handed a tough start to the season.
Rebels face a difficult first four games in Ryman League Division 1 South as they travel to Folkestone, who reached the play-offs last year, on the opening day. They then host County League champions Three Bridges and then Maidstone, before a trip to last season’s beaten play-off finalists Dulwich Hamlet.
White said: “I’m not unhappy with that. We’ve made sure that we’ll have a tough pre-season as we’re playing Bognor, Whitehawk, Brighton and Lewes, who are sides all higher up the football pyramid – and we’ve got Winchester, who are the same level as us as well.
“These fixtures are to make sure that we hit the ground running. We’ll be in shape and it doesn’t matter when we play these sides during the season.”
Other stand-out league fixtures include a trip to Maidstone’s new 2,000-capacity stadium on December 22 and the local derbies with former boss Simon Colbran’s Horsham side, at Woodside Road on Boxing Day and away on Easter Monday.
Worthing got their pre-season friendlies underway on Saturday with a 1-1 draw at home to Ryman League Premier Division Lewes at a rain-soaked Woodside Road.
A Scott Kirkwood cross, which was missed by everyone, gave Worthing the lead on 62 minutes but Steve Robinson headed home the equaliser on 77 minutes when he was left unmarked from a free kick.
White gave several trialists a game and also included striker Matt Daniel, who has joined from Whitehawk.
White said: “Matt was in the squad every week at Whitehawk last season and is a player who Darren Freeman rates highly.”
Rebels then beat Worthing United 7-0 in a friendly on Tuesday. Charlie Romaine, Steve Davies, Daniel, Mike Huckett, Scott Tipper, Kirkwood and Steve Metcalf got the goals.
The only downside for Worthing was defender Matt Hurley requiring five stitches just above an eye and he will miss Rebels’ friendlies away to Winchester on Saturday and at Hassocks on Tuesday.
Jamie Brotherton will make his first pre-season appearance after returning from holiday on Saturday.