NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Top-eight is the target as March Town bid to continue their progress on the pitch

PUBLISHED: 16:51 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 01 August 2018

March Town manager Brett Whaley has set his side a top-eight target this season. Picture: IAN CARTER

March Town manager Brett Whaley has set his side a top-eight target this season. Picture: IAN CARTER

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Boss Brett Whaley insists a summer of positives must be followed by a season of progress for March Town.

Striker Craig Gillies is March Town's headline summer signing. Picture: IAN CARTERStriker Craig Gillies is March Town's headline summer signing. Picture: IAN CARTER

The Hares go into the new Thurlow Nunn League First Division North campaign buoyed by plenty of encouraging off-the-field developments during recent months.

They have clinched two major shirt sponsorship deals, attracted a host of other new backers, carried out improvements at their GER Ground base and appointed new management teams for their reserve and Under 18 squads.

It’s no surprise that Whaley has previously spoken publicly of a ‘buzz’ around the club, but he knows only too well that his first-team squad, boosted by a host of new signings, must deliver results to ensure that remains.

That challenge begins on Tuesday night when they entertain King’s Lynn in a home curtain-raiser.

Whaley said: “There have been so many improvements made at March Town during the summer – and we now need to ensure they continue on the pitch.

“We’ve set the lads a target of finishing in the top eight to get ourselves back into the FA Cup for the following season.

“We feel we’re capable of doing that and a couple of nice couple runs would also be great.

“It will take time to achieve our ultimate goal of winning promotion, but I’m hoping we can take a massive step forward this season.

“It’s been a very busy summer and I’m pleased with the squad we’ve assembled. It’s been difficult and it has taken time, but we feel we’ve addressed the two major issues from last season – a lack of experience and a shortage of goals.”

The many new faces in the first-team squad include goalkeeper Simon Dalton, defenders Gav Cooke and Callum Madigan, midfielder Adam Rothery and attacking talent Rob Conyard.

Arguably the biggest signing of all – and certainly the most eyecatching - is prolific striker Craig Gillies.

The man who originally made his name at Chatteris Town scored 14 goals last season for Soham Town Rangers, who played two levels above the Hares.

But the influx of new players, combined with a lack of availability at times, and the postponement of their home friendly against Ely City last Friday due to bad weather, means things haven’t always run smoothly in the close season.

Whaley added: “We probably go into the season slightly under-cooked if we’re being honest.

“We’ve had a couple of friendlies called off and had to work around the World Cup with some of our early sessions.

“But we are very much a work in progress and the challenge is to ensuring we keep improving throughout the season.

“I know this group of players can hit our targets if they apply themselves correctly and work with us.”

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