FOOTBALL’S back (was it ever away?), and Wellington AFC are looking ahead to their second season in the top flight of the Toolstation Western League.

There has been a fair bit of chopping and changing in manager Clive Jones’ squad, with Sam Towler leaving for Tiverton Town... and then ending up at Premier Division rivals Bridgwater Town, who also signed Tom Ellis and Ian Bellinger from the Tangerines.

But there have been incomings too, with Kai Fisher returning from Barnstaple, Josh Wadham joining from Street and Tom Hawkings back from New Zealand sooner than expected.

Young goalkeeper Josh Mclean has also bolstered the squad ahead of the big kick-off.

Jones said: “I’m very happy with how the squad is shaping up.

“We’ve lost a few, with three going to Bridgwater, but that’s football.

“We’ve been looking at our shape and how we play, and I’m looking forward to the season starting.”

Their pre-season campaign has seen them beat Chard Town and Crediton United, and lose to Sidmouth Town and Barnstaple Town.

Jones is content with how preparations for the new season are going, adding: “We don’t really know how we’re doing until our first [competitive] game.

“But [assistant] Tom Welch has overseen our training sessions, and has done a superb job.

“I just want to get on with it – I’m no good with friendlies!”

Jones’ efforts at Wellington have also been boosted by the news that the club is introducing a new fans’ sponsorship scheme, which should give the manager some more financial clout.

“I’m not sure what difference it will make yet,” said Jones.

“But it’s another way in which the club is trying to help me, and it’s all positive from my point of view.

“We have some players coming up from Exeter, so hopefully we can help them with petrol and expenses.”

All the focus now turns to Saturday, and a match away to newly-promoted Westbury United (ko 3pm) to kick off the new season.

It’s the first of five away games to start the season – the Tangerines go to Bridport in the FA Cup extra preliminary round the following Saturday, August 11 – with cricket holding sway at North Street until September.

Jones added: “Westbury will come up confident, having won the league as we did the year before, and they have some good players.

“Our first five games are all away, so I will judge my players on those – not the first game.”

Looking further ahead, Jones’ ambition for the season is for his side to put on a show for the fans.

“I want us to entertain, not just be a team that stops the opposition,” he said.

“There’s no points target for us at the moment.

“We may get turned over by some of the bigger teams in the league, maybe win fewer points, but I want us to play good football.”

BISHOPS Lydeard AFC boss Brett Andrews is hoping his side can challenge for a top six spot in the Toolstation Western League First Division.

Lydeard begin their campaign at Sherborne Town on Saturday and Andrews is looking forward to getting going.

He said: “I’m feeling optimistic, as you have to at this time of year.

“We’ve managed to keep everyone from last season and add a couple to the squad, so I think a realistic target for us would be top six.

“We have lost a couple of friendlies by the odd goal but I don’t read too much into the results in pre-season, it’s all about trying out different systems and practicing our shape.”

Lydeard also have some exciting cup ties to look forward to, with a home draw against fellow Western League First Division outfit Bishop Sutton in the first qualifying round of the FA Vase on Saturday, September 1.

It is the Somerset Premier Cup draw which has set pulses racing at the club, however, as they have been drawn away at National League South side Bath City in the first round.

“To go and play at Twerton Park against a club like Bath City is great for a club of our size,” Andrews said.

“We will all look forward to that one, and it’s nice to have a home draw in the Vase as well - hopefully we can go one better than last year and reach the second qualifying round.”

For a Bridgwater Town season preview, click here - and click here for the thoughts of new Chard Town boss Jamie Manley ahead of their campaign.