RYAN Semple says that gaining promotion will be an even tougher task for Boston United next season - but he is determinedly tipping the Pilgrims to make it second time lucky.
With non-league football’s relegation and promotion issues confirmed, the line-up for the 2011-12 season has been confirmed... and three teams which have dropped out of the Blue Square Bet Premier have been selected to compete against United.
Altrincham, Histon and Southport have all dropped down from the non-league’s top tier.
Add to this the might of newly-promoted FC Halifax Town and unknown quantity Colwyn Bay, plus likely promotion charges from Guiseley, Nuneaton Town and a handful of outside bets, and a top-five finish suddenly looks like a tough task for any team, including last season’s play-off semi-finalists.
But after agreeing in principle to remain at the Jakemans Stadium next season, Semple is eager for success.
He told The Standard: “We want to go better than this season. We want to win promotion.
“There are a lot of good teams out there but we’ve got a very good chance.
“We’ve got a strong squad that’s very close and together and, after missing out on the play-off final on penalties this season, we’ll all be determined to go further.
“Plus the managers will be looking to strengthen the side as well.
“I think we’ve got a very good chance.”
However, Semple remained cautious of the threats ahead.
He added: “Southport have always been a strong side and it’s never easy to go to their ground and get a result, whatever division you’re in.
“Altrincham have struggled for a few seasons but they’ve still been a Conference side and could be very strong next season.
“Histon didn’t have a great season, but a couple of years ago they were in the Conference play-offs, so you can’t underestimate them.
“And you can’t rule out Halifax. They’ll look at teams like us and see that moving up a division doesn’t mean you can’t still challenge for promotion.
“The same goes for Colwyn Bay. There ground won’t be a nice place to go to, and they beat FC United there in their play-off final.
“In all divisions, apart from the Premier League, promoted teams don’t often seem to struggle.”
The 2011-12 BSBN line-up: Altrincham, Southport, Histon, Boston United, Eastwood Town, Gusieley, Nuneaton Town, Solihull Moors, Droylsden, Blyth Spartans, Stalybridge Celtic, Workington, Harrogate Town, Corby Town, Gloucester City, Hinckley United, Worcester City, Vauxhall Motors, Gainsborough Trinity, Hyde FC, FC Halifax Town, Colwyn Bay.
United have been drawn away at Lincoln United in the quarter-finals of the Lincs Senior Shield. The tie will be held on July 28 (KO 7.45pm). The Pilgrims have announced more pre-season friendlies - at Arnold Town (July 12, KO 7.45pm) Boston Town (July 16, 3pm), Stamford AFC (July 19, 7.45pm).