“It’s going to be a tough season,” says Boston United midfielder Gary Mills

Gary Mills.

Gary Mills.

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Boston midfielder Gary Mills admits that the club will have to be at their best if they are to secure a top-five finish next season.

The 31-year-old summer signing has already won promotion from the Conference North with both Kettering Town and Nuneaton Town.

Last week he told The Standard he would love to make it a hat-trick next term... but knows the Pilgrims will have to imprive vastly to make that happen.

“It’s going to be a very tough division this year,” he said. “There are lots of good teams coming down.”

After spending the majority of last season as Lincoln City captain, Mills knows all about the quality of AFC Telford United, Stockport County and Barrow, who will drop down into the Conference North after being relegated from the Blue Square Bet Premier.

The threats of runaway champions Chester FC and FC Halifax Town - who won the play-off final - may no-longer be there, but the likes of Guiseley, Brackley Town, Altrincham, Harrogate Town and Bradford Park Avenue cannot be taken lightly.

Add to that list North Ferriby United, Hednesford Town, and Leamington - who will be additions to the division next season.

The trio of new teams will all have momentum behind them after earning promotions from the Evo-Stik Northern and Southern Divisions, and should all pose tougher threats than relegated Corby Town, Droylsden and Hinckley United.

United boss Dennis Greene echoed Mills’ words, adding: “This division will be the strongest it’s been for years if you look at the teams coming down.

“There’ll be a few clubs switching south - clubs like Bishop’s Stortford - and there’ll be stronger clubs, champions of their leagues, coming in.

“We want to put together a side that can be competitive.”

After building a squad, making his side competitive is the next vital step for Greene.

Last campaign, which saw Boston use four different managers, was one to forget.

With 22 defeats and 73 goals conceded in 42 matches, the Pilgrims finished in lowly 16th spot on 49 points. Only four teams earned fewer ponts in the division last season, and three of those were relegated.

Greene. who took over for the final 10 games of the campaign, has rightffully asked to be judged on the team he builds, rather than the one he inherits.

But any side put together will have to improve on last season, attempting to overtake other teams such as Gainsborough Trinity, Solihull Moors, Oxford City, Gloucester City, Vauxhall Motors, Stalybridge Celtic, Workington and Worcester City, while remaining above Colwyn Bay and Histon.