Billingham Synthonia manager Conrad Hillerby has signalled his intent by making five significant signings, all of whom are expected to make their debuts in tomorrow’s FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie against Durham City at Central Avenue, writes Malcolm Pratt.
A huge boost to the squad is the addition of Anthony Peacock, who last season played in the Evo Stik League First Division North with Spennymoor Town.
Also on board are Danny Brunskill and Liam O’Sullivan from Marske United, Chay Liddle (Guisborough Town) and Nathan Steel (Consett).
“Last year’s pre-season was a bit uncertain one way and another, but we have been really focused this time,” said secretary Graham Craggs.
“We went close to gaining promotion from the Ebac Northern League Second Division and this season will give it a real right go.”
Synners kick-off, hoping to see off Durham City and pick up £1,500 prize money, but although they would love a good run in the World’s most famous competition, their main aim is to return to the top flight of the ENL.
Billingham Town improved significantly last season and they too will be pushing for promotion.
They are not in the FA Cup and instead begin with a home game against Tow Law Town in the League.
Norton and Stockton Ancients, relegated last season, are up against Whitley Bay in the FA Cup which is likely to be a difficult game at Hillheads.
Chairman Michael Mulligan though is reasonably confident the side can do well in the league and is targetting a top three finish and promotion.
He said: “Manager Dean Brown and Jamie Tunstall have been active on the transfer front and we have already registered 18 players.
“We had some tough friendlies and performed well to give us encouragement for the long season which lies ahead.”
Easington Colliery are also in FA Cup action and they will hope to make home advantage count at the expense of Northallerton Town.
Assistant manager Craig Parkinson reports that Lewis Turnbull, Kai Willis, James Atkinson, Jay Martin, Jack Stanger, David Stevens, together with the former Sunderland, Burnley and Derby County striker Ryan Noble all joined the club during the summer.
Parkinson commented: “We have had a good pre-season, including a particularly excellent performance against Newton Aycliffe.
“It’s our first game in the FA Cup for more than 20 years and we are looking to get off to a winning start against rival ENL Second Division opponents.”
In the Wearside League, Hartlepool kick-off at Silksworth CW aiming to progress on last season when they ended fifth top – their highest rating since they joined the competition.
New signings are Paul Moss, Kieron Campbell, brothers Cameron and Euan Gordon and Josh Noble while Dale Campion makes his comeback after being sidelined for 30 months with a cruciate injury.
Horden CW will this season play their “home” games at Hartlepool’s Grayfields Enclosure.
At one time, the village was a hot bed for local football, but the Colliers are without a ground in Horden and will therefore entertain Silksworth at Hartlepool in their opening fixture.