Youth will get a chance to shine under new Hailsham boss Stevens

Ian Stevens
Ian Stevens

New Hailsham Town manager Ian Stevens plans to give youth a chance to flourish as he prepares to take charge at the Beaconsfield.

Former Eastbourne United youth team boss Stevens replaced Andy Goodchild as first team manager this week and has the immediate task of lifting the Stringers away from the County League One drop zone.

Despite some reasonable cup results Hailsham struggled to find their form in the league under Goodchild and are third from bottom on eight points from 14 games.

With the likes of Danny Leach and Jamie Salvidge in the side, scoring goals hasn’t been the issue.

The problems all stem at the other end of the pitch where they have leaked 51 goals from 14 matches.

Stevens was due to make his debut in the home dugout on Tuesday against Wick and Barnham in the fourth round of the Peter Bentley Cup.

The match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at the Beaconsfield so Stevens expects to get his first taste of action at Newhaven in the league on Saturday.

Speaking of the task ahead on Tuesday night Stevens said, “It’s a challenge but one I’m really looking forward to.

“We are in the bottom three but it’s my job to get us moving up the table as fast as possible. The aim this year is for us to consolidate and have a good in cup run.

“A run in the cup can help galvanise the squad and bring the club closer together.

“We have some excellent players at this club already and with a few tweaks and a couple of additions I’m sure we can make some progress.”

Stevens achieved league success as he won the County League under-18 title with the talented young guns at Eastbourne United.

He also worked along Eastbourne United boss Simon Rowland and was part of that epic FA Vase run which ended in an agonising second leg semi-final defeat to Scholing who went on to win at Wembley.

Stevens added, “It was a great experience and one I learnt a great deal from.

“I know many of the players at United and the younger ones who I won the league with are ready to step up.

“Some of them will get that chance at Hailsham. Adult football is obviously very different but with a few experienced heads around them I’m sure they will be ok.”

The boss will be joined in the dugout by new assistant manager Drew Greenall and ex-Eastbourne Borough coach Paul Johnson - father of Borough midfielder Simon Johnson. Simon’s brother Patrick Johnson is also part of the first team at Hailsham.

“It’s a new time for us all and we are very optimistic and enthauiastic about the job here.

“Paul is an excellent coach and we are delighted he is joining us. Drew is a PE teacher, he was keen to get into coaching and maybe management in the future.

“He will be good for the players and good for me to have around as another link with the players.”

On the prospect of new signings Stevens insists he already has ‘a few irons in the fire’ and is confident he will have a few more new faces in time to face Newhaven .

He said, “Competition for players is always fierce around here.

“We have Eastbourne United and Eastbourne Town just up the road and that makes it difficult.

“But I have good links and even though I’m now at Hailsham, I’m sure Simon (Rowland) will help us out with a few players now and then!”

“Budget wise we are on a different level but that does not mean we are not ambitious and we want to be successful in our own right.”

Kick-off at Newhaven on Saturday is 3pm.