The feeling is we want to spend the season looking up and enjoying the season, rather than looking down and not, says Sutton Athletic coach Tristan Cropley

Wednesday 27th July 2022

SUTTON ATHLETIC coach Tristan Cropley says everybody at the club is feeling excited ahead of the club making their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division debut on Saturday.

The Hextable-based outfit claimed promotion from the First Division after finishing runners-up to Stansfeld and beat Tooting Bec (3-0) and Larkfield & New Hythe (2-1 after extra time) to win the inaugural play-offs.

“We exceeded external expectations last season.  We knew we had a good group and that if we could be consistent in terms of personnel and performances, we would have a successful campaign,” said Cropley.

“Before the season started, we’d have been happy finishing in the play-off places.  As the season went on we would have liked the top two to go up, especially as it looked like we’d be in the top two.

“However, if you could choose a way of promotion that isn’t as champions, you’d want to be winning a play-off, especially the inaugural play-offs.”

The Sutts make their Step Five debut by welcoming Canterbury City to Lower Road on Saturday.

Manager Daniel Kelly has snapped up former Dartford Academy goalkeeper Danny Coxall, former Tudor Sports defender George Wishart, former Lewisham Borough midfielder Donnell Anderson, former Erith & Belvedere winger Neil Spencer and striker Akolawole Salami has come in from tenants FC Elmstead.

“We retained the squad from last year, which was as important as new signings.  A successful season will always bring offers for players,” added Cropley.

“The aim was to strengthen across the squad to add depth and to create competition for places throughout the team.”

Cropley is looking to get their campaign off to winning ways.

He said:  “It will be a tough game. Canterbury City are an established side at this level.

“With peak holiday season both sides will have players missing. I expect us to be competitive and to be looking for our first win of the season.

“Everyone at the club is excited to be playing at Step Five and to reach our highest level as we enter our 125th birthday as a club is very special.

“Personally, I enter all competitions to win them. If I can’t do that, then win as many games as we can and see where we end up.

“As a club the feeling is we want to spend the season looking up and enjoying the season, rather than looking down and not.”

With big-hitters Sheppey United and Chatham Town both winning promotion to the Isthmian League South East Division, the division that Sutton Athletic are going into is up for grabs, although Glebe and Deal Town are both expected to be up there with new managers at the helm in the shape of Luke Rooney and Steve King (who has been promoted from coach to the hot-seat following Derek Hares’ retirement).

Cropley said: “I’m expecting a very open league.  The usual names will get mentioned as title contenders, however, I expect an unknown to have a good season and push the top sides.”

Sutton Athletic  v  Canterbury City
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 30 July 2022
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Lower Road, Hextable, Kent BR8 7RZ