STOURBRIDGE manager Gary Hackett says his players are looking forward to the fresh challenge of the Northern Premier League.

The Glassboys' boss is confident his players can improve on last season and avoid the play-off agony that ended their previous campaign in the Southern League.

"Moving north is a fresh challenge for everyone at the club and it's one that we are all looking forward to," said Hackett.

"We don't want to have the disappointment we suffered at the end of last season and are determined to put that right this time."

Stourbridge will kick-off their campaign by welcoming Whitby Town to the Memorial Ground this Saturday (3pm).

"We have got to believe that we will be up their challenging for promotion, especially after how strong we finished last season," added Hackett. "It's hard to know how it will go but I am very confident that we will have a good season."

He has also been boosted by how well his new new signings have settled in at the club. They include defender Alex Dallison, who was recruited from Walsall, and defender Matt Wood.

"The squad is a close knit bunch but the new players have settled in really well. It will be that togetherness that will stand us in good stead and it was great to be able to keep most of last season's team.

"We had a better balanced pre-season than in other years, but we will only find out how successful it has really been on Saturday."

Hackett has took time to praise the town's cricket club, which also uses the Amblecote ground, for moving their fixtures to allow the Glassboys to have a home curtain-raiser.

"This will be the first time we have started with a home game in all my time with the club. We own a big thank you to the cricket club for making that possible.

"It is great that the two town clubs can work together in that way," he added.

The Glassboys will be without new signing Matt Wood and striker Luke Benbow on Saturday because the pair need longer to recover from injury.