Thu, 20 Jun 2019
MARVEL Ekpiteta has praised the support he received from Hungerford Town after signing for League Two side Newport County on a two-year-deal.
The 23-year-old defender captained the Crusaders to National League South safety last season and was rewarded with the Manager’s, Players’ and Supporters’ Player of the Year awards.
And now, after making the jump to league football, the centre-back is ready for the new challenge.
He said: “I’m still buzzing about it because everything happened so quickly it still hasn’t sunk in, but Newport are a great club and I’m looking forward to getting started.
“I’ve always said I would love to get back into full-time football, so after the season I had I knew there would have been a good chance of that happening.
“I’m excited for the challenge ahead. I know I’ll have to get used to the pace of it, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to as I know I’ll improve even more.”
Ekpiteta has joined twin brother Marvin in League Two, with the latter earning promotion from the National League with Leyton Orient.
He said: “All my family and friends are already talking about going to both games and I’ve never played against my brother before so to be doing it in the EFL is a proud moment for my family.”
Ekpiteta had spells at Bishop’s Stortford and Chelmsford City, but it was at Hungerford where he developed into a consistent performer.
And he was quick to thank manager Ian Herring and coach Kevin Watson for their efforts.
He said: “Ian and Kev showed a lot of faith in me throughout the season and helped me improve so much.
“Like I’ve said before, they are the best coaches I’ve worked with so far in my career so I owe them a lot – the move wouldn’t have happened without them believing in me.”
The defender was also grateful for the support from the Town fans and said: “Hungerford was the best career I’ve made so far in my career.
“I would like to say thank you to all the fans for the support and the way they have taken me in this season – it’s been a privilege to play for the club.”
And although Hungerford manager Herring was sad to see him go, he was proud to have helped him secure the move.
He said: “Obviously I am gutted to lose him because he has been a huge part of the team in the last year and he was our captain.
“But I am delighted for the boy and the club because it’s a fantastic move for him as Newport are a Football League club who just missed out in the play-offs last year.
“I am sure he’ll make a success of it as he’s got the move due to hard work, good attitude and application.”
Ekpiteta becomes the first Hungerford player to be sold and Herring said: “I am happy for the club because I think it’s the first player the club has ever sold and it shows the kind of direction that we are going.
“What myself and Kev are doing is giving young players an opportunity and I am not scared to put youngsters into the squad.”
Crusaders have trusted youth over the last few seasons and Herring feels that this can help the club push on in the future.
He said: “If they’re good enough, they’ll get the opportunity and by that I don’t mean half a game or 10 minutes from the end,
I mean a sustained run in the team to prove what they can do.
“Hopefully it can attract players to come to Hungerford as well, as they know they will get treated properly and they’ll have good coaching,” he added.