JON UNDERWOOD is confident that Slough Town are in a better position to challenge for promotion from the Southern Premier Division this season.

The Rebels finished fifth in the league table last season before losing to Leamington in the semi-finals of the play-offs.

That was a step up from the previous two campaigns where they finished in the bottom half of the division, and Underwood believes making the now-complete Arbour Park a fortress could be the key to their bid for promotion.

Speaking to the Observer after the 2-1 win against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the Slough joint-manager said: “Promotion has got to be the aim. We came fifth last year having kind of dropped away we still got into the play-offs.

“We believe we’re stronger this year and think we’ve got a better side and a deeper squad, so of course promotion is our aim.

“But, we’re very aware they are some other good sides and there are teams in the last week or so bringing in high quality players as well.

“Once it settles down a month or two in you will start to see the real challengers and I would like to think we would be in contention. That is why we are here, that’s what we’re all trying to do.

“We’re positive and we think we’ve got a good chance, but of course there are some big sides and clubs in the league and it’s not going to be easy.”

Slough Observer:

PHOTO: Warren Harris opens the scoring against West Brom with a low shot from inside the box on Saturday.

Underwood continued: “We’ve brought in five new players and obviously made some changes, so they’ve fitted in really well.

“The most important thing is trying to avoid injuries and getting the new players integrated. Obviously we’ve got the injury to Alan Inns but that’s the only one at the moment and hopefully we will be back next week.

“You always say results are not important in pre-season and they’re not, but it’s nice to win and not get beat, and play well than not play well.

“It breeds confidence and there’s real competition for places. That’s the difficult thing when it comes to picking the team but we will work that out nearer the time.

Commenting on their form at Arbour Park, he added: “We’re very confident here and did well here last year in general.

“We told the players that if we play at home like we did on Saturday it’s going to be a very good side that comes and beats us. We’re confident here and we enjoy playing here.

“Our problem at the back end of last season was obviously our away form, so that’s something we need to fix and we think we can.

“But, we need to make this place a fortress and just keep on winning here. If you have a brilliant record at home it makes a real difference, but we can’t get carried away.

Slough Observer:

PHOTO: Chris Flood celebrates his winning goal at Arbour Park on Saturday.

“We have had a very good pre-season so far. We looked at the fixtures when we set them up and said it looks a tough pre-season on paper, and it is, but we’ve done really well.

“I’ve been involved in pre-seasons as a player where you beat higher league teams and you think you have got it made, then you start the season and it doesn’t happen for you.

“So we are not going to get carried away. We’ve got some tough games at the start of the season in the league so this will stand us in good stead but it doesn't mean anything just yet."

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