Eastwood Community FC manager Paul MacFarland believes that if his side can hit the ground running next season then a top six finish will be more than possible.
‘Wood finished their first ever season in the bottom three of the Central Midlands League South but improved dramatically in the second-half of the campaign after an initial spell of settling in and building a competitive side.
And MacFarland says that based on that end of season form, a top six place will be his minimum expectation.
He said: “You can almost write off the first half of the last campaign when analysing it because the club as a whole, let alone the players, hadn’t had a pre-season and it took a long time for things to settle.
“Eventually, once we were able to get players and coaching staff who had the right ability and experience to compete at this level, we got to grips with things and the results started to come.
“So if we continue in that manner into the new season then we should be able to get some momentum and hopefully have a far more stable campaign.
“We have a tough pre-season schedule against sides from up to three or four divisions above us, including Sporting Khalsa, Heanor Town and Worksop Town as well as the Horace Hibbert Memorial Trophy against Kimberley Miners Welfare, so that should set us up well.”
That pre-season line-up has dictated the Eastwood players will be back in for training on June 27 to ensure they are fit enough to compete well against the stronger sides.
MacFarland added: “We were going to get them in later than that but with the first game on July 11 I felt it was important we had a better look at everyone and got them that bit fitter.
“At this level it’s hard to stop players getting that bit more out of shape in the summer but hopefully they’ll be ready for the challenge ahead.”
On the personnel front, MacFarland says he is hopeful of keeping the bulk of the squad that finished last season together as well as adding some quality throughout the team.
“Player turnover was a problem last year until we finally got a settled squad and I’m keen to keep as many of that team as I can,” he added.
“A few have had their heads turned by moves elsewhere which is inevitable at this level and hard for us too given we don’t have a playing budget, but there were a lot here last year who really enjoyed being part of this club and there are others who are interested in coming to a club like this and to play in front of bigger crowds.
“I’m confident we’ll have two or three coming from Arnold and also one or two older lads with Northern Premier League experience who can help us out.”
The constitution of the CML South is yet to be finalised but Selston have confirmed they are moving from the Notts Senior League with Clifton All Whites heading in the opposite direction. Champions Mickleover Royals have moved up to the East Midlands Counties League.