The Hawks set off on a quest to lose their Vanarama Conference South nearly men tag against Bromley at Westleigh Park tomorrow (3pm).
Lee Bradbury’s side narrowly missed out on three fronts last season and are determined to go one better this time around.
Missing out on last term’s play-offs on goal difference in the dying seconds on the final day was a bitter pill to swallow.
Then there was the two-legged FA Trophy semi-final defeat by Gosport Borough and an extra-time Hampshire Senior Cup final defeat by Basingstoke Town to add to the club’s misery.
Bradbury and his squad are determined to bounce back and become winners.
And the manager believes the new players he’s brought into the squad during the summer will strengthen his hand.
The former Pompey striker has brought in goalkeeper Ryan Young, defender Josh Huggins and midfielders Brian Dutton and Harry Medway.
Up front, he has added Bradley Bubb, JJ Hooper, Ben Swallow and Shamir Mullings.
‘Going so close and missing out was gutting for everyone at the club,’ said Bradbury.
‘We can use that, though, as ammunition to push on again this season.
‘I have looked long and hard at where we fell short and hopefully have brought players in who can improve in those areas.
‘A number of senior, experienced leaders have been brought in
‘They should give us a nice blend of old heads alongside the enthusiasm and energy of some of the younger players.
‘Only time will tell.’
The Hawks face a difficult start with their first five games all against teams who finished in the top eight last season.
Bromley, Sutton United, Ebbsfleet, Bath City and Staines represent the toughest possible opening.
‘We will have to be at it from the start,’ said Bradbury.
‘If we are not then we will get found out.’
Bradbury can take great encouragement, however, from the pre-season games which saw his side carry on where they left off in defence.
The Hawks chalked up 21 clean sheets in the league last season which was an outstanding achievement.
The manager hasn’t tinkered too much at the back, though the addition of Young and Huggins gives it added quality.
‘Ryan Young was a Conference North title-winner last season so he knows exactly what it takes to get out of this level,’ said Bradbury.
‘Josh reminds me of a younger version of Jake Newton who was great for the Hawks over the years.’
Bradbury’s plans have been disrupted by injury, though, and he could find himself without three of his new faces tomorrow.
Dutton is definitely ruled out because of a calf injury, while Hooper and Swallow are doubts with hamstring problems.
Young striker Mullings is likely to figure up front with Bubb for season opener at Westleigh Park.
Scott Donnelly and Nic Ciardini are in line to provide support along, with Perry Ryan in midfield.
Hawks: Young, Searle, Huggins, Strugnell, Woodford, Cummings, Monteiro, Blanchett, Ryan, Donnelly, Ciardini, Bubb, Mullings, Wedlake, Hooper, Swallow