BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent boss James Webster believes his side can spring some surprises next season.

The R's are preparing for their first year in the Bostik League premier division and continue their build-up with an eye-catching friendly at home to Chelmsford City tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).

Webster knows next term will be tough and fully expects his team to be on the end of some bruising results.

However, he is confident they will catch a few sides out and believes they can avoid the bottom-place relegation spot.

“I still think we’ve got a good enough squad to stay up," he told the Gazette.

“Even if the season started tomorrow, I’d say the same thing and I fully believe we’ll surprise one or two.

“I’m really looking forward to it and feel exciting.

“We’re going to be playing some big clubs, in front of big crowds and in a great atmosphere.

“We have to enjoy it – myself and the players.

“We know it’s going to be tough and none of us are under any illusions.

“We’ll get some tonkings along the way and it’s going to be a very different season to what we’ve been used.

“In recent years we’ve been a winning side, going into every game believing we’re going to win.

“That’s a nice feeling and one that makes it easy to motivate the players.

“Realistically, it’s not going to be like that next season and there will be some days and nights when we lose three or 4-0.

“The challenge then will be picking ourselves up and getting ourselves mentally right for another game at the weekend."

Regent won their opening friendly at Little Oakley on Saturday.

They triumphed 3-1, thanks to goals from Tom Richardson, Matt Cripps and Rob Harvey.

Now they are getting set for their first home match at the newly-named Taydal Stadium, against Conference South outfit Chelmsford.

Webster believes home form could be key next season and is urging the club's followers to back his side.

“It would be great if the town and community continued to get behind us, even if and when it gets tough," he said.

"That’s when we’ll need them the most.

“I’d love it if we could consistently get crowds of over 200.

“We’re keeping prices at the lowest level we can and hopefully everyone will enjoy watching a very high standard of football.

“The premier division is quicker and more physical than the first division.

“Everyone’s well-built and seems to be 6ft 2ins.

“It’s going to be a test of the players’ resolve but also a big test for me.

"It’ll be good for me, in terms of my development as a manager."

Elsewhere tonight, MALDON AND TIPTREE are playing STANWAY ROVERS at Florence Park while FC CLACTON travel to Cornard United.