Wetherby Athletic boss Mark Forster is anticipating another relegation scrap this season, after his side performed a great escape to remain in the West Yorkshire League’s top tier last campaign.
Athletic took 11 points from their last seven matches last season to overhaul Kippax and finish one place above the relegation zone.
But with Knaresborough Town and Robin Hood Athletic coming into the division, Forster acknowledged his side were likely favourites for the drop.
However, Forster was confident his men could scrape together enough points to beat the drop, saying they are “stronger than last year”.
He said: “The top four, (Bardsey, Beeston, Leeds City and Field), in the league are clearly the best four, and I think Knaresborough Town will be very strong.
“The aim is just to compete with the rest.
“There’s no reason why we can’t get enough points from the other 10 teams to stay in this league
“We were right under the gun from the start last year. Hopefully, we can get some points on the board early so we are not in the fight throughout.”
And Forster admitted he has learnt from the mistakes that saw his Tangerines go six months without a victory last season.
The manager added: “You learn by your mistakes. I made plenty last year and so did the players.
“As a club we are a lot more focused on the first team being the key team in the club.
“We just hope to make some better decisions on the pitch.”
Wetherby start at home to newly promoted Robin Hood on Saturday before a trip to Leeds City on Wednesday evening.
Talented Harrogate Town winger Jack Emmett, who was crucial in Wetherby’s last gasp survival, will be available due to a placement year from university
Forster has also welcomed Matt Lambard and centre-back Joe Baker into his first team set-up.
Former Conference defender Bobby Stevenson has been recruited but the defender will miss the first month of action due to injury.
Forster’s son Matty will also miss the start of the season due to surgery on his broken nose.
“We haven’t gone mad looking for players,” said Forster.
“I am pretty pleased with the squad. We are tighter than we were last year.”
West Yorkshire Premier: Wetherby Athletic v Robin Hood Athletic; Brighouse Old Boys v Bardsey; Beeston St Anthony’s v Ripon City; Field v Boroughbridge;
Division Two: Great Preston v Sherburn White Rose; Kellingley Welfare v Barwick
Alliance Division One: Boroughbridge Reserves v Field Reserves; Robin Hood Athletic Reserves v Wetherby Athletic Reserves
Alliance Division Two: Ripon City Reserves v Wyke Wanderers Reserves; Baildon Trinity Athletic v Barwick Res
Alliance Division One: Wetherby Athletic Res v Boroughbridge Res
West Yorkshire Premier: Bardsey v Boroughbridge; Leeds City v Wetherby Athletic; Ripon City v Knaresborough Town Reserves.
Division Two: Sherburn White Rose v Fryston; Barwick v Great Preston.