Sheppey United player-manager Jack Midson is realistic about their aims for the new campaign.
Midson was only recently promoted to the manager’s position after quadruple-winning boss Ernie Batten took on a director of football role. His side play their first game in Isthmian South East on Saturday at home to Chichester City.
On Tuesday night Midson's team drew 3-3 with Athletic Newham in the FA Cup thanks to a last-minute equaliser from Warren Mfula.
The Ites claimed four trophies last season, including the Southern Counties East Premier Division title, but Midson believes the challenge ahead will be a lot harder.
Midson said: “We did struggle at times against some of the top teams last season, against Chatham and Glebe, and we have to realise that every game is going to be like that.
“We will tinker a few bits, it’s about trying not to give away silly chances. We do overplay out from the back sometimes and as I said to the lads, we want to play it out but if you are going to get caught constantly we will have to stretch teams a bit.
“If we concede this season it will be tougher to get one back, whereas before we were confident we could win 3-1 or 4-1 if we conceded.
“We have our own aims, we know we are capable of getting towards the play-offs, that should be within our grasp. But it’s our first season in this league and looking at the teams in it, if we finish mid-table it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
“The club has to be realistic about where it has come from. You have to go into the season aiming for it (the play-offs), you don’t want to be aiming for mid-table. If we keep to our standards and fall short it is not the end of the world, but you have to aim for a certain level or we are not being true to ourselves and what we should be doing.”
Midson has named himself in his first two squads but will be looking to take charge from the dugout rather than on the pitch, knowing he can help as a player if needed.
He said: “The players we have are good enough to go out there and do it, I trust them to do it.
“If there were a few injuries it would be the time to step up and come in.
“To do it properly you can’t really do both if you are going to give it a good go. These leagues are getting tougher and tougher, you need to be organised and concentrate from the sidelines.”
Midson has decided against bringing in a No.2 at present, with Craig Coles staying on as coach and Kieran Gooding helping the goalkeepers.
What he is keen on doing is ensuring he has as much information as he can on the opposition, taking up their scouting a notch.
“If we can just pull one thing out from a scouting report that could be the difference and it is one of the areas I am looking at,” he said.
“We always say concentrate on ourselves but you have to respect the other team and there might be that one bit of information that could be the difference between winning and losing.”
Saturday’s game at Holm Park is a 3pm kick-off at Sheppey.
Midson had been hoping to take charge for the first time last Saturday but their FA Cup fixture at Athletic Newham turned to farce.
Sheppey were all lined up and ready to go in the Extra Preliminary Round tie but works to repair holes in the pitch, created by shot puts, hadn’t been carried out and the referee called the game off. The Essex Senior League side play at an athletics stadium in Plaistow.
“It was the right decision but about three hours too late,” said the Sheppey boss.
“We were prepared, we had our team-talk, warmed up, had another team-talk and lined up ready.
“I had an inclination of what was happening but I wasn’t wanting to make any excuses, I prepared the team as normal and left it to others to do what they had to do.
“The referee wasn’t happy when he turned up, they said they would repair the holes. It is hard for clubs but you have a responsibility to make sure the pitch is at its best and it certainly wasn’t.
“By 2.45pm the holes still hadn’t been filled in. It was bad.”
The fixture was switched to Sheppey and Midson's team were forced to come back from 3-1 down to take the match to a replay. Mfula has put the Ites ahead but Newham's Joel Appiah bagged a hat-trick. It needed a goal from Billy Bennett and a last-gasp finish from Mfula to level it up.
It's back to Holm Park for the two sides on Tuesday night (August 16) to settle the tie in the replay. It means Sheppey's league trip to Hythe scheduled for that evening will be moved to a later date.