We didn't have the squad to deal with injuries last season, says Maidstone United boss Jay Saunders
Wednesday 13th August 2014MAIDSTONE UNITED manager Jay Saunders says he has brought in experienced players so that the club mounts a serious title bid this season.
The Stones finished in a disappointing seventh-place in the Ryman Premier League last season and are sitting proudly at the summit after wins over Metropolitan Police (3-1) and VCD Athletic last night.
Jay May, a summer signing from Conference South side Bromley, scored his second goal in as many games to give The Stones a 20th minute lead at Oakwood.
Matt Bodkin, a summer signing from league rivals Margate, added a second when he bent a left-footed shot into the corner of the net after his initial corner was cleared back to him.
The Stones travel to Bognor Regis Town on Saturday, a side that have opened their campaign with two defeats to Canvey Island (3-1) and at home to Leatherhead (2-1) last night and presently sit in the bottom four.
“It’s early days. We go to Bognor on Saturday, which is going to be a real tough game,” said Saunders, 35.
“Another team that love to play football and we have to set-up right but you can’t ask for much more than two wins and I’m delighted.
“We had a good result down there last year so hopefully we can take that into Saturday.
“I’ve played there so many times over the years and not come away with a lot so it was lovely to go down there last year and win.
“You know they’re going to be a good side and they’re going to play the right way and really going to ask questions of you so we’ve got to set-up right.
“We’ve got Thursday to work on things. I’ve got a report on them and then we’ll go from there but as I say we’ve got a good squad this year with a bit more experience and hopefully we can go there and get a good result.”
The Stones collected 81 points last season but that wasn’t good enough because they finished 15 points adrift of promoted champions Wealdstone.
Saunders said he has learnt a lot from last season’s campaign.
“I learnt that we didn’t have the squad to deal with it,” admitted Saunders.
“If you look at Christmas I think we were top of the league or there abouts, best defensive record, haven’t lost at home and best away record at that point and then we got injuries and we went.
“We lost six on the bounce, we lost away from home and it cost us. We didn’t have the squad to deal with it.
“I feel we’ve got an unbelievable Academy and we’ve got some real talent coming through. We was asking too much of them at certain times, going to places like East Thurrock and having three or four seventeen-to-eighteen year olds in the team is hard.
“I think we’ve added a bit of experience, not with over-the-hill players, the likes of Matt Bodkin, Jay May, Sonny Miles and James Rogers. They’re lads that have got good experience and still got that hunger.
“You’ve also got lads Ben Greenhalgh and Ashley Miller, Michael Phillips to come back from suspension, Orlando Smith and people like that, so we’ve got a hell of a lot of quality in the squad.
“Then we’ve got the young lads like Dan Parkinson and Aaron Simpson who haven’t made the bench for the last two games.
“We didn’t have the squad and I learnt that we needed that and hopefully we’ll have the squad to carry us though and go a step further this year.”
Saunders parted company with Steve Ward and appointed former Whitstable Town manager Nicky Southall, 42, as his new assistant manager on the eve of the new season.
Saunders said: “It was tough. I’ve known Wardy for a long time since the Middlesex Wanderers tours and stuff and we’ve always get on well and he’s been brilliant for me,” said Saunders.
“I just felt it was time for a change, whether it’s the right way only time will tell, but I just felt Nicky has got the experience and we’ll work well alongside me and Jamie Coyle, who has been a big help since he’s come in (from Leatherhead).
“I love having him around the place and he’s a good player who at the moment is out of the side.
“I think the three of us will work well together and hopefully time will tell. I thought it was time for a change and the right decision was made but we’ll see.”
Visit Maidstone United’s website: www.maidstoneunited.co.uk
Bognor Regis Town v Maidstone United
Ryman Premier League
Saturday 16th August 2014
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Nyewood Lane, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 2TY