“IF WE can finish a place or two higher than we did last season, then I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Highworth Town boss Jeff Roberts has set his side a modest target of improving on their 14th-place finish from last term once they kick off their 2019-20 campaign at home to Frome Town on Saturday.

Following a difficult debut season in the Southern League Division One South, the Worthians take on the recently-relegated Somerset outfit at the Save on Tyres Stadium on the opening weekend of the new season.

Roberts is itching to get Highworth’s second campaign at Southern League level under way and is confident of another shock result on the opening weekend after the acquisition of several new faces – including former Swindon Town striker Sol Pryce.

Asked about what he expected from Frome this weekend, Roberts said: “They’ve just been relegated, so it’s going to be a big test for us as the first game.

“I’ve heard some reports that they’re quite lively on the flanks and they’re looking to go straight back up, so it will be a tough one for us.

“We’ve got a few new faces in for this season, so we’re nearly there squad-wise, although I think we’re still maybe one body short at the back.

“We faced a similar situation last season when we played AFC Totton, but we beat them 1-0 and we only had 10 men.

“Confidence is quite high in the camp, but we know Frome will present us with a massive test, so hopefully we can respond on Saturday afternoon.”

Highworth conceded an average of 1.87 goals per game last season – something Roberts is keen to rectify and reduce when hunting for a top-half finish this time around.

The Worthians manager believes several lessons have been learned by both the players and the management from the 2018-19 campaign, but insists stability in defence will go a long way to helping increase the number of positive results Highworth pick up.

Roberts said: “If we made a mistake last season then we got punished for it, whereas strikers in the Hellenic League aren’t as clinical. That’s something we know to be aware of in defence.

“I thought that was where we struggled last season and that was probably down to the availability of players and not having the same back four all season. We’re trying to get a bit of stability there.

“We also underestimated the amount of direct sides in the league that just pump the ball up front, whereas we tried to play our football along the ground.

“We’ve been caught out a few times doing that, so we have to learn from our mistakes and possibly change the way we play against certain teams.”