The Evo-Stik League Southern
Published 17th August 2012
....manager Nick Bunyard hoping his side can improve on last season's seventh-placed finish.
However, he has warned that it is too early to tell what threat the division`s new teams will bring. After making several new additions early in pre-season and holding on to most of last term's players, Bunyard knows he has, in theory, a stronger squad to work with.
And with Paulton – who thumped Frome Town 6-1 in a friendly last week – not having reached the play-offs since 2006/07, the boss is well aware that the club is keen to be fighting for promotion again.
"Ultimately that has to be the ambition but you never know how the league is going to pan out with new teams coming in," he said.
"It'll be competitive and I don't see a runaway winner like last year. Merthyr Town look like a strong side and there are several teams, like Swindon Supermarine, Evesham United and Winchester City, that we don't know a lot about.
"The lads and the board will want to see us improving on last year so that will be the target. On paper we are a stronger side than last season, we've added players in a few key areas.
"The new signings have gelled really well with how we want to play and they got on well with the lads. We knew we wanted to have that continuity from last season, so it was just about bedding the new guys in.
"We'll keep looking to strengthen over the next few months.
"Some of the bigger non-League clubs in the area will be releasing players as the season gets under way."
Rovers start with a difficult trip to Cinderford Town on Saturday before hosting Tiverton Town on Tuesday.
"It's a tough game to start off with," said Bunyard.
"Any time you go to Cinderford is always difficult.
"We've got a couple of ex-Cinderford Town players, which could work for us if they want to prove themselves against their former club, but on the other hand Cinderford may want to put one over on them.
"The Cinderford pitch is probably better at this time of year and we like to play some football, so it might not be a bad time to go there.
"With the personnel we've got and historically, we're a ball-playing team, so we'll keep that sort of philosophy but won't be afraid to be more direct if we need to be."
Paulton showed they are in the mood as they hammered higher-division local rivals Frome 6-1 at Winterfield Road last week.
Kris Miller scored the first and saw his goalbound shot touched home by substitute James Billing for Paulton's second before Ryan Bennett headed home Jamie Lyons' brilliant corner to pull one back.
Nick McCootie beat a couple of challenges to restore the two-goal cushion and Ben Lacey forced an own goal before Billing made it 5-1 just before the break.
A flurry of changes followed at half-time and one of those, Dave Stone, rounded off the scoring from the penalty spot.
"Pre-season has gone as well as it could have done," said Bunyard.
"A couple of niggling injuries for a couple of players meant they haven't trained as much as I'd have liked but I'm pretty happy with how it's gone."
James Vincent has joined Rovers from Warminster Town and Aaron Cornwall could also sign after spending much of pre-season at Winterfield Rovers.
Youngsters Ryan Gay and Ben Bicknell have been loaned out to Welton Rovers and Warminster respectably for the start of the season.