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Hythe Town manager Steve Watt welcomes early FA Cup opener as Cannons travel to AFC Vardeanians

Steve Watt has welcomed Hythe’s earlier start to the season as the Cannons prepare for FA Cup commitments.

The majority of Isthmian South East clubs must wait another week for competitive action, with the league getting under way on August 13.

Hythe Town manager Steve Watt Picture: Steve Terrell
Hythe Town manager Steve Watt Picture: Steve Terrell

But with Hythe finishing just outside the relegation zone last season, they enter the FA Cup in the extra preliminary round and travel to Old Vardeanians on Saturday.

Their opponents sit a level below the Cannons in the Southern Combination League and play at the Withdean Stadium, the former home of Brighton & Hove Albion.

“I’m glad to get the season going,” said Hythe boss Watt.

“I’ve felt ready for a couple of weeks, if I’m honest.

“The last two friendlies have just been about getting through the games with no injuries and managing minutes, because I felt we’d done all the work we needed to do up to that point.

“I was glad to be able to do that and we’re good to go this weekend. Another week’s delay, waiting for the league to start, I don’t think would have been great for us.

“You get to a point where you’ve played all the friendly football you need to play and you just want the season to start.

"We’ve been back in since June 18, the majority of the boys, so I’m really pleased to have the FA Cup game.

“Yes, Old Vardeanians play in the step below, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier.

“We need to go down there and be at our best to come away with a win. That’s what we want to try and do all season, no matter who we’re playing against.”

Hythe won six of their eight pre-season friendlies, with two defeats coming in their final outings.

They went down 2-1 at home to Bowers & Pitsea on Saturday - new signing Shad Ngandu with the goal - following a 3-0 midweek loss against neighbours Folkestone.

Watt missed those matches after testing positive for Covid but he’ll be back in the dugout this weekend for the first competitive fixture of his second spell in charge.

“It’s been one of the most positive pre-seasons I’ve been involved in,” said Watt.

“We’ve built a new team from scratch, we’re playing a new system the players haven’t played before and they’ve taken to it.

“I’ve had an idea on the starting XI for a few weeks.

“Harry Miller and Shad Ngandu have come into the picture late and those two need time to get their match fitness to compete and challenge the rest of the boys.

“It’s a shame they weren’t with us earlier but I’m happy with the squad.

“It’s good to have options because we can go different ways depending on how I think the games will be and how the games are going. You build a squad for different scenarios.”

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