Promoted Eagles braced for free-scoring Town
Newly promoted Somerset Eagles are bracing for a baptism of fire in their return to the Premier Division when they host free-scoring Dandy Town in their league opener at White Hill Field on Sunday.
Town have sent out an early warning to rivals after scoring big wins over X-Roads and league champions PHC in their two Dudley Eve Trophy group matches. Now they travel to White Hill Field looking to carry on in the league where they left off in the cup.
Jensen Rogers, who guided Eagles to promotion in his first season as coach, is bracing himself for a tough first match as a Premier Division coach.
“I was lucky to see them against X-Roads when they won 6-0 and then against PHC when they won 7-0, so I had the opportunity to have a good look at them,” Rogers said. “The good thing is you play them early and two things can happen.
“You can have a good performance and it can kick-start your season or you can have a performance where it is a lesson learnt.”
Rogers achieved a rare feat last term by getting both promoted and relegated in the same season with two different teams.
He coached Eagles to promotion at the first attempt and also played a couple of games for relegated Paget, a team he was still registered with from the previous season.
This week, he was disappointed to hear that Paget had dropped out of the league after struggling to get sufficient players.
“Obviously, you don't want to see that happen to any club, Paget being a club where I grew up in that community,” Rogers said.
“You always want to see them do well, that was the reason for going back there with guys like Dion Stovell, McQuinn Burch and Robert Richardson.
“You go back to try to help the community because when they come together they can do big things.
“It's just unfortunate the team has gone from getting promoted to now pulling out of the league.
“When I got the news, I was very disappointed after working so hard to get them to the Premier Division. It's a big disappointment for football as a whole.”
Now Rogers is determined to have a successful campaign with Eagles who last played in the top division in 2016-17 when they were relegated with Devonshire Colts.
Eagles have made a couple of key signings, including Nathan Rego, a product of their youth programme, who has returned to the club after a season with BAA.
The club signed eleven players in total, including veteran forward Jonathan Bean from Ireland Rangers.
Rogers did not obtain a player transfer from Paget, though he can now do so depending if Eagles need his experience in defence.
“Preparation has been good, the guys have been committed,” Rogers said.
“Nathan is a very good talent and we're glad to have him back. Hopefully he can be a very important piece of the puzzle.
“Johnny Bean was a player who I played with at Ireland Rangers and Somerset Trojans. I knew the team lacked a bit of experience and I called on him and he will be thereabout in the first couple of games.
“We picked up some important players in the transfer period and we're looking forward to the opening game.
“Dandy Town have been free scoring, and have the league's leading goalscorer from last season in Angelo Simmons.
“They are coming to our home, so hopefully the community comes out and becomes the twelfth man, to help pull the guys through.
“It's not going to be an easy game as you're looking at a team that looks like title contenders already.”
Rogers added: “For a lot of these guys, playing in the Premier is what they wanted to achieve last year when we got promoted.
“The buzz in the locker room is we're here. We're up for it and just have to put our best foot forward on Sunday.
“I'm sure the Eagles community is very excited, waiting for the ball to start rolling and so am I.”