BRIDGWATER Town are targeting promotion as they kick off their 2019/20 Toolstation Western League campaign away to Brislington on Saturday (ko 3pm), writes Richard Browne.

The Robins impressed in a 3-0 win at Southern League side Barnstaple Town on Friday night but were beaten 2-0 at home by Bideford their final pre-season match on Tuesday night.

Reflecting on the Barnstaple win, co-manager Dave Pearse said: “We were a bit disjointed in our last few games, but on Friday we looked a strong team; we had a gameplan and everyone stuck to it.

“The lads are fit and ready now; we’ve played a lot of [pre-season] games against good sides, and it’s done us the world of good.”

Opening day opponents Brislington came 18th in the Western League’s Premier Division last term; the Robins beat them 6-0 at home and 1-0 away on their way to a fourth-placed finish.

Not that Pearse is taking three points for granted on Saturday.

He said: “They will be hard to beat, they always are at their place.

“But, if we turn up like we did on Friday, hopefully, we can get the result to get our season off to a flying start.”

After finishing in eighth spot in 2017/18 and fourth last season, Bridgwater are aiming to push on again and work their way back into the Southern League, having been relegated in 2017.

Pearse said: “Obviously, it would be nice to finish in the top three but we’re looking to push on and win it.

“We have made good signings this summer and we have a strong squad.

“From what people have been saying on Twitter, we’re not really being spoken about so, hopefully, we can go undetected.

“But with the team we have now, promotion has to be on the agenda.”

Pearse and fellow manager Karl Baggaley have added Jake Horsey, Jamie Laird, Ross McErlain, Steve Murray and Dave O’Hare this summer, and there are several promising youngsters pushing for a place in the team as well.

They plan to partner Murray and Jack Taylor (last season’s top scorer) up front, a combination which could prove very potent.

In terms of rivals for the promotion spots at the top of the standings, Pearse believes Bitton and Plymouth Parkway go in as favourites.

He added: “Buckland Athletic, Bradford Town, Exmouth Town and Tavistock should always do well, and there’s always a couple of surprise teams.

“It will come down to whoever can be more consistent.”