NEEDHAM Market manager Danny Laws believes lessons have been learned from two failed promotion bids, as he aims to go one step further in the upcoming Ryman League Division One North campaign.
The Marketmen have gone through a somewhat transitional period in the close season after suffering play-off final heartbreak in a 1-0 defeat to Enfield Town last season, bringing in seven new faces to replace a number of notable absentees.
Club captain Rhys Barber (Felixstowe and Walton United), veteran Gavin Johnson (Walsham-le-Willows) and Angelo Harrop (Brantham Athletic) are among those to have left Bloomfields, while former Bury Town midfielders Kieron Leabon and Craig Nurse, centre-half Nathan Clarke from league rivals AFC Sudbury and powerful striker James Hubbard from Woodbridge Town, are just some who have arrived.
Laws admitted to adopting a new strategy ahead of the season’s opener away to Ware tomorrow (3pm) before the visit of Heybridge Swifts on Tuesday (7.45pm) as the manager looks to live up to their 5-1 odds (Bet Victor) as promotion favourites.
“We’ve learned a lot from missing out on promotion in the last two seasons and this year I believe we are capable of going one step further,” he said.
“We have freshened up the squad and the new lads that have arrived are here to get promoted.
“They have a good pedigree, are hungry and some of them have that experience of getting out of this division, which will be invaluable.
“We will be changing they way we have played to a certain degree and will be bigger and stronger, with more height and power all over the pitch.
“We were top scorers last season but didn’t get promoted so it is not hard to see that we need to be solid and build from the back with a strong foundation.
“We are aware of the competition from elsewhere and know teams like Wroxham, Sudbury, Grays Athletic and Harlow Town will all be well equipped to make a title challenge.
“However, having a fit young squad can take you a long way in this division and if we can match them physically as well as with fitness then you stand a good chance.”
Reflecting on getting the season under way, Laws refused to underestimate tomorrow’s and Tuesday’s opponents, who ended the last campaign in 21st and 16th position respectively, as he aims to put a marker down with a strong start to the season.
“Ware can be a tough place to go and we have had some funny games there in the past so I’d settle for a 1-0 win to be honest,” he added.
“It can be hard to play the Tuesday after the first game and Heybridge Swifts will be a tough opposition but we have home advantage and will be confident.
“It is important to get wins early, build confidence and get into that winning habit.”