Leiston get their Southern League Central Premier season up and running away at newly-promoted Halesowen Town on Saturday, 3pm kick-off.

The Blues enjoyed a fantastic 2022/23, finishing third in the table, before losing out in the play-off semi-finals to Nuneaton Borough. They go into opening weekend in good heart after a solid pre-season campaign.

There have been plenty of changes at Victory Road in the summer with a whirlwind of players leaving and arriving.

Those who left include last season’s top scorer Will Davies (to Braintree) and classy winger, Finlay Barnes, (York City).

Arriving at Leiston this summer are three former professionals, in Chris Casement and Ross Crane (both formerly with Ipswich Town) and former Norwich City striker, Jamar Loza.

Lots going on then.

One man who signed a new deal in the summer is Ollie Saunders, the former Braintree full back/midfielder who scooped the managers’ player of the season award last campaign.

How does he feel pre-season has gone for the Blues?

“It’s gone well, we’re happy,” he said.

“It’s not all about winning, but it’s nice to get that feeling back heading into the League campaign. We go into the game against Halesowen injury-free, which is also nice.

“The mood in the camp is positive and it’s a great atmosphere around the ground. Everyone is excited for the first game as you would expect.”

Halesowen were runners-up in the Northern Premier League Midlands (Step 4) last season but won the play-offs and promotion to Step 3 in exciting fashion, beating Spalding in extra-time.

"There are a few new teams in the league this season, Halesowen being one of them,” Saunders said.

"There are going to be a few new tests, and this league is always strong, this season will be no different.

"We’ll carry on focusing on how we can be the best versions of ourselves to give us the best chance to be up there come the end of the season."

Leiston will open their home Southern League account on August 12, when AFC Telford, who were relegated from Step 2 last season, visit Victory Road.