Long Melford have continued to strengthen their squad with the signing of Daniel Statham from local rivals AFC Sudbury.
The Villagers start their pre-season friendlies with the visit of Skrill Conference Premier side Braintree Town on Saturday (3pm), whose reserve side will groundshare with Melford in the new season.
Melford chairman Alf Woodhouse said: “The move will financially benefit us and will mean more midweek matches and possibly Friday night matches at Stoneylands.
“It’s not going to be easy, but our groundsman Ivan Whitehart has done a superb job in the last few years on the pitch.”
Sam Bayliss, Harry Fryer, Will Wingfield and last year’s manager’s player of the season Shane Barnes have all re-signed for Melford along with the returning Statham and Sudbury’s Jake Jackson.
Jackson made 34 appearances for Sudbury’s reserve team in their debut season in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division last year.
Statham made his debut for Melford back in 2007 and had several successful years at the club, which included being voted the supporters’ player of the season in 2009.
The duo became the fourth and fifth players to leave AFC Sudbury for Jules Mumford’s team ahead of the new season following the signings of Steve Chisholm, Steve Adams and Daniel Smith.
Mumford said: “Sam (Bayliss) had AFC Sudbury after him but he stayed loyal to us and I’m really pleased that he’s stayed with us.”
“Will Wingfield will be with us for the first few months of the season before he goes back to university.
“Shane worked really hard for us last season.
“He had other clubs chasing him too but chose to stay with us.”
Long Melford have been given a bye into the second qualifying round of the FA Vase, which was drawn on Friday.
The Villagers will travel to either Baldock Town or Sporting Bengal United on Saturday, October 4.
n Cornard United take on Essex Senior League side FC Romania in the first qualifying round on Saturday, September 6 (3pm), with the winner rewarded with a trip to Whitton United in the next round.
The Ards start their pre-season friendlies with a trip to Earls Colne a week on Saturday (3pm).
Mark Hoskin’s side then host Wivenhoe Town on July 31 before hosting Springfield at Blackhouse Lane on August 5 (both 7.45pm).
n Hadleigh United get their pre-season friendlies underway when Colchester United Under-21s visit Millfield on Saturday (3pm).
The Brettsiders then travel across to AFC Sudbury for their next friendly on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Stuart Crawford’s side have been drawn at home to the Essex Senior League’s Sawbridgeworth Town in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.
United will travel to Burnham Ramblers in the preliminary round if they get past the Robins on Saturday, August 16 (3pm).