CHESHAM boss Andy Leese has set his players the target of finishing higher than they did last season - saying they're among the contenders for promotion.

Leese is setting high standards for his men, wanting them to have something to show for their efforts after a fourth placed league finish and penalty shoot-out defeats in the Southern League Cup semi-final and Berks and Bucks Cup final last year.

He said: "We've all agreed we want to try and emulate what we did last season as a minimum and see if we can go one better. We feel we've got the makings of a very good team and some depth in the squad. We finished fourth last year and we'd like to think we can improve on that.

"If everything falls in our favour, I don't see why we can't repeat or go one better.

"I'm not going to say we will win the league - that's a very tall order - but I think we're one of the teams that can say we are in with a shout.

"It's more of a level playing field than it ever was. There are stronger teams that have come into it and some of the existing teams have strengthened. It's going to be interesting but we're ready."

United will have to do it without experienced striker Barry Hayles, with the former Fulham man joining rivals St Albans City after trialling with the Generals in pre-season.

A disappointed Leese said: "We couldn't have done any more than we did. We tried hard to convince Barry we were the right environment for him but he's opted to go to St Albans. That's his prerogative, he doesn't owe us anything or the game anything."

There was better news with long-term transfer target Michael Chennells joining from Windsor and Leese thinks he will complement last season's top scorer Simon Thomas.

Leese admits he also made enquiries about last season's loan star Inih Effiong, but the striker has signed a new contract at Boreham Wood.