Whitehawk skipper Charlie Walker says it is better late than never after helping bring an old mate to the club.

Chris Whelpdale scored both Hawks goals as they kicked off a busy pre-season with a 2-2 draw at home to Hassocks.

The duo were previously together at Eastbourne Borough but Whelpdale moved on to Lewes.

Walker tipped off new Hawks boss Ross McNeilly that the former Peterborough striker was available this summer.

Whelpdale introduced himself to the Hawks faithful with a shot under the keeper and an expertly angled header after one of his team’s best moves of the game.

Walker said: “I tried to get him down here last season when we were leaving Eastbourne.

“I know what a good player he is – and he is one of the fittest 37-year-olds you will ever meet.

“He’s a massive signing for us. I think he will be a fans’ favourite for sure.

“His experience will be invaluable, particularly with the young squad they are trying to build.

“He is a really good role model and he will be one of the fittest players in the squad.”

Hawks have rebuilt their squad and, while the result was of no real consequence to either side, they will have a few things to think about ahead of tonight’s game at home Peacehaven.

Walker said: “I think there are only three of us from last season.

“We are integrating a lot of new players.

“The early signs from training – we have had four sessions – are there are some really good players.

“I think the management team have implemented things straight away and things are being run very professionally.

“Hassocks are a good team. I know the manager well and he will have them well organised.

“It’s a tough game so it is mainly about fitness today and I think a lot of us got that.”

McNeilly said: “Yes, it is about fitness but it is also about connection and relationships and also finding out what people are capable of doing.

“Whether they are capable of fitting into what we want.

“We wanted to give an opportunity to have different units.

“It is what it is. If we had won or lost it makes no odds.

“The biggest thing for me is, did it look connected?

“No, it did not. It’s going to take time. We will do it as quick as we can but not in the first pre-season game.”

Hassocks, coming off their best ever Southern Combination season, levelled very late, moments after they had seen a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.

George Alexander scored twice, both set up by Siya Ligendza, as Eastbourne Borough won 2-0 at Haywards Heath.

Borough are looking to build on last term’s dramatic escape from relegation in Vanarama National League south.

Boss Adam Murray said: “We want to be at the other end of the table this season.

“I believe we have made some really good signings but that doesn’t mean you are going to be given anything.”

Alexander was among the summer additions having most recently played for Chelmsford City.

Now 22, he came through the Millwall academy and is the son of former Lions striker Gary Alexander, who also had stints at Orient, Crawley and Brentford among others.

Borough have a friendly at home to Crawley Down Gatwick this evening.

Haywards Heath, who were encouraged by their efforts before a crowd in excess of 300, have another good test in store tonight when they host Horsham in the latter’s first pre-season friendly of the summer.

Worthing felt there was plenty of promise as their squad went down 3-0 to Albion under-21s behind closed doors.

Rebels fans get a first chance to see how Chris Agutter’s side are shaping up when they visit Chichester City on Saturday.