DAN Bishop is enjoying the ‘free hit’ he has been handed at Hayling United this season.
The former Horndean youth boss arrived at the club last summer expecting to take charge of the Humbugs’ reserves.
But after the previous first team management team left just before pre-season training began, he was catapulted into overseeing the club’s Hampshire Premier League side instead.
‘I had no idea what to expect this season,’ he confessed. ‘It was a bit of a free hit really, but I’ve been really happy with the way the squad’s adapted.
‘We’ve had some great results - we won at Stockbridge recently and it was completely deserved. We played the way I want us to play, easy on the eye.
‘We’ve come across some good sides. Bush Hill gave us the best lesson in how to play, while it was a good mental test playing Paulsgrove.
‘The young lads have learnt so much, they’ve had to grow up quickly.’
Most of Bishop’s squad are early 20s or under, apart from goalkeeper Chris Clark, centre half and captain Elliott Spencer and midfielder Matt Hiscock.
‘We’re seventh at the moment and I’d like to maintain that,’ Bishop added. ‘It would be nice to go higher, but you have to be realistic.
‘But the lads are really fit, they train hard, and I’m sure we’ll surprise a few teams this season.’
The Humbugs - a Wessex Premier Division club as recently as 2013 - travel to Fareham Town on Tuesday night for a Portsmouth Senior Cup tie.
‘There’s no pressure on us at all,’ said Bishop. ‘In my mind, nothing bad can come out of this game whatever the score might be.
‘I don’t know how big the gulf will be between the two teams, but we’re obviously expecting a very tough game.’
Hayling’s last trip to Cams Alder was for a Wessex Premier game in January 2013, which the hosts won 4-2. Earlier that season, Ryan Gadd scored the only goal in the Humbugs’ 1-0 Wessex League Cup win at the same ground.