Boreham Wood manager Ian Allinson believes his side are capable of challenging for the play-offs next season.
The experienced boss watched his team hold Premier League new boys West Ham United to a 1-1 draw at Meadow Park on Tuesday night and took encouragement from their display.
Allinson said: “I think the realistic thing is we need to improve on last season. If we do that then that will give us the strength once we get around the Christmas period to push on for the play-offs.
“If we bring one or two signings in we’d have a realistic target. But first and foremost we need to make sure we’re not carrying injuries because we’ve got a tough pre-season.
“The chairman’s done a fantastic job with the friendlies he’s got on and it’s going to be tough. It’s important that when we reach August 18 everyone is that frame of mind to start the season fresh.
“It was a good experience for everybody and the result is important but the best thing to come out of the game was the way we applied ourselves and the way we’ve gone about our business.
“We looked disciplined and sharp and already we’ve had four training sessions before the game and fitness is very good. We’ve gained something out of the game in our first pre-season match.”
The visitors opened the scoring in the first half through Sam Baldock but summer signing Omer Riza latched onto a sloppy back pass to set up Inih Effiong for Wood’s equaliser.
Riza, who started his career as a youngster at Arsenal, made a big impression after ending last season with Boreham Wood following his departure from Histon in January.
The talented front man has agreed a new deal with the club and Allinson believes his experience with them last year will prove beneficial.
The manager said: “We know what most of [the new players] them can do. James Russell in goal has been doing very well at Canvey for the last three years and he’s had an excellent performance out there. Ben Nunn has had three years and been in the play-offs twice with Chelmsford so even though he’s quite young he’s got a lot of experience and played in play-offs before.
“Omer we knew, because we had him here last year and Chez Isaac we had him for three months last year. We knew what we had there so it was important we brought players in who can fit into the system and that will help us once we start the season.”
The team face a busy pre-season schedule which features tests against Arsenal and Reading. But first up the Conference South side will host Stevenage this weekend before a home game with Watford on Tuesday night. The Hornets have just appointed Gianfranco Zola as their new head coach and this is certain to increase interest in the friendly.
Allinson added: “Mainly for us it’s just about fitness at the moment. We have Stevenage and Watford so a lot of players can get some minutes under their belts but it’s important we don't give them too long and they start getting tired. We need to be careful about how we go about it and who plays what and how long they play.
“We can assess that after the Watford game and see where we are before we go into the Arsenal and Reading games which is going to be tough also.”
West Ham agreed to the friendly after signing former Wood teenager Pelly Ruddock. The Hammers handed the captaincy to the promising midfielder in the first half and Irons assistant manager Neil McDonald admitted he was impressed by the youngster’s transition to full-time football.
McDonald said: “I thought it was great. Pelly came from Boreham Wood last year and he’s settled in and for him to come back to his team he’s done remarkably well going from non-league to the professional game. We’re happy with his progress and it's good for him to lead out a team against the one he used to play for before.”