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Deal Town manager Derek Hares ready for tough opening week, starting at home to Chatham Town in Southern Counties East Premier Division

Deal Town face a tough opening week as competitive football returns to the Charles Ground but manager Derek Hares is quietly optimistic.

His side have enjoyed a good pre-season, losing only once against Dover in front of close to 700 spectators, before finishing off their warm-up matches with a 7-0 weekend win over Greenways.

Deal Town boss Derek Hares. Picture: Alan Langley (49728183)
Deal Town boss Derek Hares. Picture: Alan Langley (49728183)

Deal start their Southern Counties East Premier Division season at home to title favourites Chatham this Saturday.

Manager Derek Hares said: “Pre-season has gone pretty well, the lads have been committed. They are very fit, you can’t take too much notice of results but we have played seven, won five, drawn one and lost one to Dover.

“It was a good night for the club against Dover, 680 supporters there. It was lovely. We held our own.

“Some of those games you are taking a bit of a chance and you could end up with a hammering but it was never anywhere near that (last Tuesday’s game finished 3-0 to their National League neighbours).

“We have scored quite a few goals in pre-season, we’re playing well and haven’t conceded many, so it’s looking good.

“We have got a difficult week with Chatham on Saturday, then away to Lordswood on Tuesday, which is never easy, then the FA Cup game against Southall at home.

“It is a tough start and in most people’s eyes Chatham and Sheppey are two teams people have to beat but you have to play them some time.

“We are at home and we’ll just have to give it a go.”

Chatham are currently looking for a new manager after Scott Lindsey left last week for an opportunity to work back in the Football League at League 2 Swindon.

Their director of football Carl Laraman and chairman Kevin Hake are taking charge while they seek a replacement.

“I don’t think it will make a great deal of difference,” said Hares.

The Deal boss has managed to keep a settled squad from last season with only a handful of newcomers

Their last match at home was in the FA Vase in April, losing to Binfield. Last season’s league programme barely got going, with Deal playing 11 games before the season was scrapped in October because of Covid issues.

Like many teams, Deal have had players miss out through isolating in the last few weeks. Recent defensive addition Sam Gibson is missing because of Covid regulations while Jack Paxman is also absent.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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