Martin Westcott believes his Haverhill Borough side have gone under the radar so far this season — but they will be in the spotlight this weekend.
Borough take on Whitton United in their first home game of the season on Saturday (3pm), which will be played on Haverhill Community Sports Association’s new 3G artificial pitch.
The new facilities have been made possible by almost £700,000 worth of funding, which included grants from the Premier League and The Football Association Facilities Fund, the Football Stadia Improvement Fund and a loan from the council.
This weekend’s Thurlow Nunn League First Division clash with Whitton will be the first time Westcott and his players will get to play on the new pitch, but the Borough player-manager does not expect a long wait for his side to get used to their new surroundings.
“It will be nice to play a home game finally,” beamed Westcott. “Our first five games have all been away and it’s been tough on the boys.
“Everyone is really looking forward to it. It’s all come on quite quickly; the grass carpet has all gone down and it looks impressive.
“We’ve had no opportunity to play on it before Saturday’s game so it is going to be a steep learning curve for us.
“It’s why we arranged a couple of friendlies in pre-season on 3G pitches. We’ve also played at AFC Sudbury on their 3G last season as well.
“It’s not necessarily going to be an advantage on the pitch for us because it will raise the game of the opposition when they come here and see how nice the pitch is.
“It will help us with scheduling games better as we had to play a lot of games right at the end of last season.
“It’s going to be great for the younger teams in the area and for Haverhill Rovers too. It will be open all year round and is fantastic for the town.”
With the finishing touches to Borough’s new home ground being completed earlier this week, Westcott’s side have begun their 2016/17 campaign with five away games.
The latest of those was last Saturday at King’s Lynn Town Reserves, where they held on for a 0-0 draw after Gareth Thomas was sent off early in the second-half.
Borough (10th) finished their early season road trip unbeaten with two wins and three draws, a record which boss Westcott is certainly proud of.
“We’re a bit under the radar at the moment in mid-table,” he said. “Obviously I’d rather be a few places higher up, but we’ve played five hard games so far.
“We’ve played King’s Lynn, Diss Town and Stowmarket Town already, so we haven’t got to go there again.
“The time will come when three points are there and we will need to be a bit more ruthless to get them.
“I’ve said I’ve targeted a top-six finish this season and to qualify for the FA Cup again.
“I’d love to retain the First Division Knockout Cup if we can; that was a great night winning it last season.
“A run to the Suffolk Senior Cup final and getting the club to Portman Road for the first time would be nice too.
“We just want to nudge everything forward. We’re quite ambitious but we will need to keep the players fit because we’ve got a small squad.”
Errol Durrell (work) is unavailable this weekend, but Borough are boosted by the return of Rory Bone and Bart Pater to the squad, while creative midfielder Aaron Forshaw could also feature.
n Haverhill Borough have been drawn at home to Wenhaston United in the second round of the Suffolk FA Senior Cup, sponsored by CNet Training (October 15).