Southern League preview: Tough early tests for Leiston, Needham and Lowestoft Town
PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 August 2019
A busy summer on and off the pitch at the newly-named Watson & Hillhouse Victory Road Stadium has seen Leiston lose seven players, but bring in seven new personnel.
It's the start of the Suffolk side's eighth year at Step 3 level and it's a home tie with Coalville Town in the BetVictor Southern League that kicks off the season for Stuart Boardley's side.
Leiston have swooped to sign former Bury Town centre-half Kyran Clements on loan from Braintree Town but this afternoon do have players unavailable.
Jake Jessup is away on holiday so Charlie Beckwith will start in goal, while striker Ryan Sharman is injured, Harrison Bacon another away on holiday, while fellow midfielder Noel Aitkens is unavailable until the first week of September.
Manager Boardley is also awaiting news of seeing if new Spanish duo Albert Serra Parrondo and Sebastia Pond Llado are eligible to play.
"We can't wait to get started," Boardley said.
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"Myself and the players are looking forward to the season ahead after a long pre-season. Coalville will be a decent side, will play good football and certainly be up there challenging for a play-off spot."
Meanwhile Needham Market face a tough start in the Southern League, with a trip to Stratford Town, who enjoyed a fine season last year.
Richard Wilkins' side will be looking for a fast start as they did last season, but know Stratford are one of the favourites for the play-offs.
On Tuesday night Needham are home to Hitchin.
Meanwhile, Lowestoft Town boss Jamie Godbold believes his squad are in excellent shape ahead of the opening fixture.
The Trawlerboys go into this weekend's game at Hednesford Town with the bulk of last season's line-up still on board, while some new talent has been added to the mix.
Godbold has snapped up 20-year-old attacking midfielder Louis McIntosh following his release by Norwich City while there are two other new faces in the centre of the park, Miguel Lopez, formerly of Kirkley & Pakefield, and ex-Grimsby Town youth player Kyle Richardson. There is also a new goalkeeper in the shape of Luis Tibbles, with fellow new-boy Alex Blowers providing the competition.
"It's been a good summer for us and I think we are in a much better place now than we were this time, last year," he said. "It's really pleasing that most of last year's squad decided they wanted to sign up for another season while I am also pleased with the players we have brought in."