Why Phil Doswell is hoping for a change in fortune when Havant & Waterlooville host Welling United in National League South
Phil Doswell is hoping for a change of fortune on opening day.
Neither the Hawks nor their new boss have a strong record in curtain-raisers.
Expectations are high as Welling United arrive at Westleigh Park for the National League South opener on Saturday (3pm).
But Doswell reckons last season’s beaten play-off finalists will present a stiff test for the Hawks, who are bookies’ favourites for the title.
The former Sutton United manager, who replaced Lee Bradbury at the helm at the start of the summer, said: ‘The past five weeks have been a dress rehearsal.
‘My track record in opening games is poor and the Hawks have not won an opening game at home for a long time.
‘We will be looking to change that.
‘Welling only narrowly lost in the play-off final last season and will be very competitive.
‘They have signed seven players from National League Bromley, so it is a good opening game for us.
‘Nothing is a given – that’s for sure.
‘Our recruitment during the summer was done very carefully and we have seen a good squad ethic build.
‘The way Ian Baird and I operate it was never going to be a problem.
‘It never takes us long to get hold of a group of players and weld them together.
‘Ian has got the players very fit, well organised and ready to go.’
The Hawks only suffered one pre-season defeat – to League One Pompey – with victories over National League Eastleigh and Sutton only raising expectations.
Centre-back Dean Beckwith has recovered from the knock he took the Spitfires on Saturday.
That means Doswell could stick with the same starting line-up that featured in the past two friendlies.
Jonah Ayunga will be partnered by Roarie Deacon up front in the continued absence of Danny Kedwell and Alfie Rutherford.
Rutherford is recovering well from knee surgery and could even be named in the squad on Saturday.
However, Kedwell is set for further treatment on a medial ligament injury and is not likely to be available until the end of August.