Saint Sozzo leaves Top Field

PUBLISHED: 10:51 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

Hitchin Town manager Darren Salton revealed this week that his two-year plan to take the Canaries to the Southern League play-offs still stood. Salton, speaking at the annual meeting of the Hitchin Supporters Trust, said he was intent on achieving that a

Hitchin Town manager Darren Salton revealed this week that his two-year plan to take the Canaries to the Southern League play-offs still stood.

Salton, speaking at the annual meeting of the Hitchin Supporters' Trust, said he was intent on achieving that ambition next season.

He added that he was looking to strengthen his squad, especially since the departure of captain and leading scorer Josh Sozzo to St Albans.

"I am looking at all departments," he said.

Sozzo's move prompted many questions from Hitchin's fans and Salton was full of praise for the 31-goal player.

"Josh stayed through last year's budget cuts, he played while injured and he had a massive impact on the other players.

"He guaranteed that he would not move to a club at the same level, but the offer to play at Conference level was too great to resist."

Sozzo was showered with offers to leave Hitchin after topping the Southern League scorers' list.

"It's a big disappointment, but I am pleased for Josh, who has the opportunity to play at the top of non-league football," continued Salton.

"Anyone who tops the Southern League scoring list is going to appeal to clubs at a higher level.

"He has matured into a superb player and I am sure he will succeed at Clarence Park."

Sozzo scored 50 goals in 87 games for the Canaries and led Hitchin to the Southern League (Errea) Cup last season.

He joined the club in January 2004 from Aylesbury United.

Assistant manager Ken Gillard said that he would have done the same in Sozzo's shoes.

Salton has wasted no time in appointing Liam Folds as his new captain.

"Liam is a real leader on the pitch and is the ideal man to replace Josh in this role."

Gillard added that Hitchin's players have been on a learning curve for the past two seasons.

"We need players who can scrap on scrappy pitches - that's what we will be looking for," he said.

Salton, who completed his UEFA A badge recently, insisted that Hitchin would go to Salisbury in August looking to win the Southern League Championship Shield.

"We'll field our strongest side," he said.

* The full list of agreed pre-season games so far for Hitchin is:

July 22: St Albans (home)

July 29: Crystal Palace (home)

August 1: Arlesey Town (home)

August 5: Salisbury (away)

* Hitchin will meet two new opponents in league competition next season as the Southern League Premier Division has been confirmed by the FA.

Clevedon and Corby, both of whom have met Hitchin in some shape or form in the past, are on the Canaries' fixture list.

Other changes from last season include Hemel Hempstead, Stamford and Wealdstone.

Promotion and relegation have robbed Hitchin of three local derbies - Aylesbury, Bedford and Chesham.

The only local clashes will be with Hemel and Cheshunt.

Full constitution: Banbury, Bath, Cheshunt, Chippenham, Cirencester, Clevedon, Corby, Gloucester, Halesowen, Hemel Hempstead, Hitchin, King's Lynn, Maidenhead, Mangotsfield, Merthyr, Northwood, Rugby, Stamford, Team Bath, Tiverton, Wealdstone, Yate.


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