MANAGER Les Jones says Malvern Town will be gunning for promotion from the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division once again as the 2017/18 campaign draws ever closer.
The Hillsiders, who finished 20 points behind last season’s runaway champions Haughmond, will be hoping to finish top of the pile this time around when the league campaign gets under way on Wednesday, August 9 with a trip to Bilston Town Community.
With only one promotion spot available to secure a place in the Midland League Premier Division, Jones understands the difficult task to progress into Step Five.
The Malvern boss believes Wolverhampton Sporting Community and Wolverhampton Casuals could be in with a shout this season, as well as Herefordshire side Wellington and recently relegated Tividale from the Midland Premier.
“A lot of sides are going to be strong contenders for the sole promotion spot,” Jones told the Observer.
“Our ambition as a club is to get promoted and we will be going all out once again to achieve that.
“We want to be in the top three bracket who will be aiming for the league title but we know it is going to be a challenge.”
After their trip to Bilston, the Hillsiders travel to Shropshire side Wellington Amateurs on Saturday, August 12 before welcoming newly-promoted Wednesfield to the HDAnywhere Community Stadium on Wednesday, August 16.
Malvern then make the trip to Dudley Sports on Saturday, August 19 followed by a home clash against Wellington on Wednesday, August 23.
They complete the month on Saturday, August 26 when they entertain AFC Bridgnorth.
But with six league games in the space of 17 days, the Malvern boss has been left angered by a busy fixture schedule.
“Having that many fixtures in that space of time is just ridiculous,” he said.
“At this time of year you have players who are still on holiday and the pitches are hard which puts a huge strain on the squad.
“I just do not understand why we need that amount of games this early in the season.
“If Manchester United had a run like that it would make national headlines. I just find it absolutely crazy.
“Players at this level are only part-time and it’s very difficult to get away from work and family to play six games in 17 days.”
But before the league begins, Malvern travel to Wolverhampton Casuals this Saturday for an FA Cup extra preliminary round tie.
And although the priority is promotion this year, Jones is also targeting good runs in the both the FA Cup and FA Vase.
“We enjoyed the taste of both competitions last year so we want to emulate that once again,” he added.