ON THE eve of Petersfield Town’s historic debut in the Southern League division one central, manager Ian Saunders declared: We fear no one.
The Rams boss issued his rallying call as the club prepared for its first ever game at step four level of the non-league system.
Petersfield find themselves in the Southern League after back-to-back promotions in the Wessex League and despite a spell in the Ryman League in the late 1980s through to the early 1990s, the Rams have not enjoyed such a lofty status before.
Saunders’ squad face a baptism of fire with their first game a 230-mile round trip to play the early favourites to win the title, AFC Rushden and Diamonds.
A crowd of up to 1,000 spectators is expected to be packed into the Dog and Duck Stadium to cheer on the team which was formed after the Football League version of the same club went out of business in 2011.
But Saunders has urged his players not to fear going to a ground where there will be a big crowd in or to be afraid of what lies ahead in the Southern League.
‘We have to play with no fear and not worry about the opposition,’ said Saunders.
‘We need to go out and express ourselves in this league – after all it has been key to the success we have enjoyed in the last few seasons and it got us to where we are now.
‘It’s going to be a tough season because we have stepped up to a much higher level than we are used to.
‘But I’m really pleased with who we have brought in and we will fear nobody, whoever we face.’
Bookmakers have AFC Rushden and Diamonds at 7/2 joint favourites to win the division, while they rate Petersfield rank outsiders at 25/1 to secure a hat-trick of league titles.
Petersfield have no major injury worries going into Saturday’s game.
Striker Howard Neighbour is still expected to be out for up to two months but other summer signings Michael Dixon, Ryan Woodford, Dan Sackman, Stuart Green, Liam Flanighan and Luke Walker are all in line for debuts.