Eastleigh’s new midfield maestro Craig Stanley is looking forward to a reunion tonight as the Spitfires welcome Aldershot Town to the Silverlake Stadium in their first home match of the Conference Premier season.
The 31-year-old is pictured after scoring on his Eastleigh debut in the 3-0 win at Nuneaton Town on Saturday and is now focusing on seeing some old Shots friends.
Stanley captained Andy Scott’s men, who started the seaon on -10 points, to survival in the Conference Premier last term and scored three goals in 58 appearances during a two year spell at the Electrical Services Stadium. He played every minute of each game as they finished 19th, but wasn’t offered a new contract at the end of the campaign.
That paved the way for a move to the Silverlake, with manager Richard Hill eager to take the experienced player on board, to offset Glen Southam’s departure. Stanley said: “I’m looking forward to it. Last season I was captain of the team and I’ve got some good friends there. Obviously it’s going to be interesting playing against them.
“Aldershot won on Saturday and it was a good win for us (at Nuneaton) – so that will make it an even better game.
“If we played like we did against Nuneaton, we’ll have a good chance against them.
“They’re going to be up there as the season goes on and if we keep performing like we did today we can be up there too.”
It will be the first time Stanley will experience the Stoneham Lane ground on a competitive matchday.
That is something the former Morecambe, Torquay, Hereford and Bristol Rovers player is relishing.
“I don’t know what sort of reaction I’m going to get,” said Stanley. “Hopefully it will be a good one.
“Of course, I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully after scoring against Boro I can get a good reaction from Eastleigh fans and show them what I’m capable of.
“I hope they take a liking to me.”
Stanley spoke about his move to the Spitfires, admitting he couldn’t resist the temptation of the ambitious project in place at the Silverlake.
He said: “I thought I was going to stay at Aldershot but things didn’t materialise. They didn’t push the boat out to keep me.
“I spoke to the gaffer (Richard Hill) about his interest more or less as the season finished.
“My agent spoke to the gaffer (Hill) and once I saw who they were signing – Jack Midson, James Constable and Paul Reid – then you know they’re signing quality players. It excited me. “That’s what you want to when you’re at the stage I am at in my career. I want to play with the best players possible.”
The Shots game is followed by tasty clash as Eastleigh welcome Gateshead on Saturday (3pm).
The Tyne and Wear side beat Torquay United (3-1) and Wrexham (3-0) in their opening games and will pose a big threat to Hill’s team.