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Tonbridge Angels striker Louis Collins undaunted by run of away games while Longmead 3G pitch is completed

A run of away games to start the National South season hold no fear for Tonbridge striker Louis Collins.

Angels have been on the road throughout an unbeaten pre-season while a 3G pitch is installed at Longmead.

Tonbridge Angels striker Louis Collins Picture: David Couldridge
Tonbridge Angels striker Louis Collins Picture: David Couldridge

They were due to open the campaign at home to Weymouth but the fixture was reversed after pitch delays.

That means Jay Saunders’ side will play their first three league games away, with tomorrow’s opener at Weymouth followed by Slough and Collins’ former club, Dover.

Collins, a former Tonbridge youth player, can’t wait to get training and playing at Longmead, with the first game due to be the visit of Hampton on August 20.

But, having travelled as far as Yorkshire during a busy pre-season, Tonbridge know what they’re doing away from home.

Collins said: “It’s weird really because normally you’d have a lot of your friendlies at home, but all of ours have been away, so we haven’t had time to get used to our own pitch, but I don’t think that will matter too much.

“Sometimes teams struggle to go away, but we’ve got used to that, and obviously we’re unbeaten in pre-season, so clearly we can go away and do a good job but obviously it’s the league where it matters.

“We’ve got some big clubs in those first three games.

“Weymouth are from the league above last season, so they’ll obviously be good and then Slough and Dover, so it’s three big tests but it’s good, it’s what you need at the start of the season, you need a test to see where you’re at.”

Collins, snapped up by Scunthorpe as a youngster, finished last season with Saunders at Margate, and had no hesitation in following his manager to Tonbridge.

He’s scored goals at National League level with Dover and been prolific at Isthmian level with Sevenoaks.

Louis Collins followed Jay Saunders to Tonbridge from Margate Picture: David Couldridge
Louis Collins followed Jay Saunders to Tonbridge from Margate Picture: David Couldridge

Angels struggled for goals last season but Collins will hopefully help solve that, particularly with the brand of football Saunders is looking to play.

“Jay’s known me growing up, he knows where I’ve been before, so it’s a good relationship,” said Collins.

“He understands me as a player as well, so that’s the best thing about it.

“I finished last season with him at Margate, and loved that, so when he said about coming here, it was a no-brainer.

“He likes to play with widemen, get it out wide and get balls in the box and he gives you licence to shoot as much as you can, take players on in the final third and try and score as many goals as you can.

“As a striker, you’ve got to like that because you get full licence to do what you can in the final third. Confidence-wise, that’s got to be good.”

The new boys outnumber the old guard at Tonbridge, with Saunders making big changes to the squad he inherited from Steve McKimm.

The manager is particular about who he signs and Collins says the players have it off.

“It’s weird really because the four or five weeks in pre-season I feel we’ve gelled quite quickly as a group,” he said.

“We’re all good lads, we all get on really well, it doesn’t really feel like we’re new, it feels like we’re already a tight-knit group.”

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