Mark Bower says Bradford (Park Avenue) will take a fearless approach into the new National North campaign.
The expansion into 24 teams makes the league even harder – especially for the part-time outfits – as four clubs will be relegated,
Avenue kick off the season at home to King’s Lynn Town on Saturday which precedes clashes with Kettering Town (a), Scarborough Athletic (a), Kidderminster Harriers (h) and Chorley in the opening five games.
All are tough fixtures but Bower is unfazed.
“I think we proved last year that we could get results against the top sides,” Bower told Non League Yorkshire.
“We got a result at Gateshead. We got a result at York – the two promoted teams.
“We competed well against the better teams as we got going so I won’t be looking at teams and saying ‘we should be beating them’ or we may struggle against them’.
“(In the first five games) we have games against Scarborough and King’s Lynn, two teams new to the Division.
“Kettering have had a turnover of players so they’ll be three unknown quantities.
“But any game we go into we know we have enough quality and experience and ability to get points in any game.
“We’ll be going out to win the first game against King’s Lynn and then we’ll approach the Kettering game the week after in the same manner.”
Just as most seasons, Avenue enter it as underdogs.
Bower is realistic about their aspirations because of their part-time status in a league with full-time sides, but he hopeful his men can build on last season’s successes.
“Our first target is to stay in the Division so if we’re 20th or above then we have to be relatively satisfied with that,” he said.
“Obviously we want to aim higher than that.
“I think we showed in large spells last season that we were more than capable of competing with the better teams in the league.
“Ultimately we want to try and get as high as we can.
“Nobody will look at us and fancy us to finish in the top half so we’ll use being constantly written off as fuel and push on as high as we can.
“It is going to be very tough.
“Four go down this time so that opens it up.
“I think the teams who have come up from lower levels certainly seem equipped to be more than competitive and they probably have aspirations of challenging in the top half of the table than the bottom.
“We have a good pool of players and we have added to that during the summer and we’re certainly want to be going in and competing as far away from the bottom places as possible.”
Asked about who will challenge for the title, Bower added: “I think you have to look at the full-time teams.
“The likes of Fylde, I’m sure they will be very strong.
“Kidderminster are a side you would expect to be up there.
“Brackley, season after season, are always up there and punching above their weight to a certain extent.
“You look at those three and there’s always ones who can cause an upset.
“You probably argue a case for 12 or 14 teams to be right up there challenging for those top three places.”