New boss Billy Miller believes his Tadcaster Albion squad have a “great opportunity” to do something special in his first year in charge.
Miller has dropped down a league from Harrogate Railway to try to deliver success to Tad’s ambitious owners – who have watched Paul Marshall’s men finish third for the last two years.
And on the eve of the season, he predicted a tricky race alongside Worksop Town and Cleethorpes Town.
Miller said: “Right across the board, this team has a great opportunity.
“We have a phenomenal support, unbelievable backing from the people in charge, and collectively, the 16 or 17 players, every single one of them have the ability to make it their season.
“We have enough quality in the squad to deal with the pressure that comes with it.
“They know it’s going to be a difficult season but all we can do is take every game as it comes and make sure we will be in amongst it.”
Club legend Marshall exited Albion at the end of last season, despite leading the club to the quarter-finals of the FA Vase – the furthest such run in the competition in the club’s history.
Both Marshall and former Tad defender Denny Ingram will be back at the i2i Stadium this season with their new club Pickering Town, a game scheduled for October 3.
October is likely to be a pivotal month for Miller’s men, with a trip to Cleethorpes (October 24) and a clash against fancied Albion Sports seven days later. Albion will hope striker Carl Stewart has returned to fitness by then, with the marksmen missing the start of the campaign due to knee surgery. Last season’s captain Nick Thompson will also miss the first month with an ankle problem.
However, Miller is confident he has the strength in depth to conquer injuries worries throughout the campaign after bring in a spate of high quality arrivals this summer.
Miller knows all about the strengths of trio Matt Heath, Jordan Armstrong and Adam Baker who followed him directly from Railway, while goalkeeper Gary Stevens has gave Albion fans a sign of what’s to come last season.
The ‘keeper was at the heart of Highworth Town’s victory over Tad in the FA Vase quarter-finals but he was soon snapped up by the club after moving north.
He will begin the season in the number one shirt after a number of impressive performances in pre-season, with Peter Lawrie acting as back-up.
Joe Thornton, Jimmy Beadle and George Conway have also added NCEL championship winning experience to the squad.
The opening three weeks of the season will allow Miller to bed in his new recruits before they title credential against Worksop on August 29.
Miller said: “Worksop will be the first real test in the season, but we have four or five games before that and we have to make sure we’re at the races.
On facing the top teams, Miller added: “The head to heads were a bit of an Achilles heel for them last year, with only one point taken off the top six.
“We have to make sure in the big games that we manage the game. Beating someone 1-0 is as good as beating someone 6-0, especially in the head to heads.
“It’s a real psychological blow if you’re beating your title contenders.
“The key for me, we have to make sure we don’t concede. If we don’t concede goals, we don’t lose football matches.”