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Tonbridge Angels manager Jay Saunders on summer arrivals Emmanuel Maja and Obafemi Akinwande

Tonbridge boss Jay Saunders reckons attack-minded recruits Emmanuel Maja and Femi Akinwande will offer something different to his squad.

Attacking midfielder Maja and experienced striker Akinwande agreed to join Saunders’ side at the weekend ahead of the 2022/23 season.

Tonbridge Angels manager Jay Saunders. Picture: David Couldridge
Tonbridge Angels manager Jay Saunders. Picture: David Couldridge

Maja, 21, first caught the eye of the Angels boss last September when Enfield lost 2-1 to his former club Margate, while ex-Football League hitman Akinwande has finally linked up with Saunders.

“We had to bring quite a few in with the people I let go,” said Saunders, who is close to making another signing.

“I’m pleased with those two additions. They are two different players.

“Femi is experienced at this level and levels above. I tried to sign him a few years back at a previous club.

“He’s someone I spoke to when I first came in and he wanted to keep his options open which is fair enough.

“But he came in last week and did a training session with us. He did the session and said he was interested so it was done in that short space of time, really.

“He’s quick, direct, powerful and different to what we have got. He’s different to Louis [Collins], I think they will be a good combination.

“Then we have got Emmanuel.

"We played Enfield early on last year when I was at Margate and, although we won the game, he ran the show and I kept an eye on him from then on.

“When I heard he was leaving Enfield, I wanted to speak to him. He was interested in what we are trying to do. He’s a young and powerful lad, and someone with a bit of an eye for goal.

Angels' Femi Akinwande in action last year, playing for Dartford. Picture: Keith Gillard
Angels' Femi Akinwande in action last year, playing for Dartford. Picture: Keith Gillard

“There were a few clubs interested in him but we managed to get it over the line, which was nice.”

Works to install the 3G pitch this summer are continuing at Longmead, with Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat and councillor Vivian Branson recently visiting the ground.

Saunders believes the work the club are putting in behind the scenes is helping attract players.

He said: “That’s why I have tried to make the effort to bring them down to the club, where the chairman [Dave Netherstreet] and the directors are working every day, trying to move the club forward.

“It certainly helps. It’s a really enjoyable place to be at the moment, I’m loving it.

“There’s been competition for most players we have brought in but the players are signing for us because they believe in what the club is doing.

“I just cannot wait for the pitch to be finished.”

Saunders is happy with the squad he has put together but he is still on the look-out for one or two more additions having brought the average age of the squad down significantly.

He added: “We are probably looking for one more winger, if you like. We are looking for competition in the full-back areas, as well.

“But we are looking okay. I’m hoping, in the next day or so, we will have another announcement.

“You never know until the start of the season but, if I had to start the season tomorrow, I think we would look strong - on the pitch and on the bench.

“So if we can bring one or two more in, we will not be far away.”

Tonbridge will start their pre-season campaign this Saturday against Sutton Common Rovers before they face Folkestone on Tuesday night.

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