Stevens can’t wait for the season to start

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Having skippered teams to the United Counties League title for the last two seasons, Jamie Stevens is hoping to clinch a third successive winners’ medal this season.

The 25-year-old defender was pleased to get back on a pitch again on Thursday as Holbeach United began their pre-season training but the former Boston and Crawley player can’t wait for the real action to begin.

Stevens – who won the title in 2012/13 with hometown club Holbeach and again last season with Spalding – knows exactly what is needed to win the UCL title, and he is convinced the new-look Tigers squad has what it takes.

He said: “I think we are good enough to make a real push for the title.

“I know we have signed a lot of players, so it will take time for the team to gel, but I think we have signed some really good players.

“With all due respect to the players who won the title here two years ago, I think this is a better squad.

“I think we will be really good attacking-wise.

“We might even be better than Spalding were last season going forward because we’ve brought in some very good players.

“I think Ashley Fuller is a great signing. He looked pretty nifty in training the other night and Gary King has played at a higher level than the UCL and knows how to put the ball in the net.

“I know Graham Drury (the Tigers joint-manager) is very excited about the two young strikers we have signed from Oadby, so I think we will score plenty of goals.

“Jake Gibson is a good player who will help to create plenty of chances.

“So I am really excited about the new season and I can’t wait for it to start.”

For all their talent, though, Stevens insists Holbeach will have to apply themselves if they are to regain the title.

He added: “The most important factor if we are to challenge for the title is to work hard.

“When we won the title at Holbeach two seasons ago, and also at Spalding last season, we had the ability to battle.

“Sometimes you just have to dig in, because you can’t play nice football all the time.

“In that respect, I think Ollie Pinner will be a good player to have around in midfield.

“If you looked at the side we won the title with at Holbeach two seasons ago, and compared them on paper with the likes of Spalding and big teams like Deeping, you probably wouldn’t have given us that much of a chance.

“The fact we were underdogs probably helped us that season, and of course we won’t have that luxury this time, but I still fancy us to do well.

“We will have to cope with the pressure of expectation, but thankfully we have plenty of players who have won things at this level so they have the know-how.

“The likes of Johnny Allen, Adam Jackson, Tom Roberts and Danny Steadman have all come here from Spalding so that experience of winning the UCL last season will come in handy.”

Regarding his own role this season, Stevens – who once had a trial at Championship side Ipswich – said: “I haven’t been told whether I will be skipper again but I would obviously like to be, having led teams to the league title for the last two seasons.

“I assume I will be playing alongside Liam Parker, who is a very good signing.

“He has played at a higher level and will help to give us a very good spine, which is important for any team.”

n Deeping Rangers and Bourne Town have both been handed a home draw in the opening round of the Hinchinbrooke Cup.

Deeping – who have added Rob Lee, Jack Bates, Matt Holland and Ollie Gale to their squad that finished fourth in the UCL last season – have been drawn at home to Stotfold.

Bourne, under the new management of Rafa Mazzarella, have been drawn at home to St Neots Saints.