Halstead Town have no fewer than seven new faces in their first-team squad and, together with a number of players coming back to the club, it will be a largely new-look Humbugs outfit that kicks off the Thurlow Nunn League First Division season with a home game against Leiston Town Reserves on Saturday (3pm).
The Rosemary Lane club will also be unveiling its new strip at the start of a season manager Mark Benterman is targeting for promotion. “We weren’t good enough last season, for a variety of reasons, but this squad has every chance of putting that right,” he said.
“Every season you set the target of promotion, and this season I think it’s quite realistic as we have a much stronger squad. But every year it gets harder.”
He hopes for a repeat of last season’s early form, when Halstead lost just three of their first 17 games before injuries dragged them away from the promotion-challenging places.
“We have done a lot of injury prevention work in the close-season,” he said, “and I hope that pays dividends.”
Halstead have six games in August, with their second at home to local rivals Cornard United on Tuesday, August 11.
“It’s a derby game, and it will be tight. After the last few seasons, when they have struggled, they will have a lot of points to prove.
“We set ourselves a target each month, and by Christmas I want us to be in the top five. If we are there we will have done well.
“With a little bit of luck, I think we will be there.”
New signings are: keeper Luke Banner (Braintree Town), defenders Lee Clowsley (Clacton) and Lee Green (Braintree Town), midfielders Richard Abbott (AFC Sudbury) and Jake Brown (Heybridge Swifts). Brad Keefe and Charlie Pleace have been playing at Border League level. Defender Pleace was previously at Stanway Rovers.
Warren Marcus returns to Rosemary Lane after a spell at West Bergholt, and James Murray is back after a spell at Haverhill Rovers. James Regan, who missed most of last season through injury, is also back in the squad.
“The new signings give us the versatility that we need to be a force this year.
“If I reflect on previous years I think one of the lessons we have learnt is that we need versatility in the squad which, by its nature, gives us strength in depth,” said Benterman.
n The club has a number of behind-the-secnes vacancies, including that of programme and match-day reporter. For information, check out the website: www.halsteadtownfc.com