WITHAM Town manager Marc Benterman is pleased that there will be at least one familiar aspect to his first game in charge.

Having been appointed as boss at Spa Road last month, Benterman is stepping up to manage at step four level for the first time and is excited with the progress his new-look squad has been making in their pre-season action.

They are due to head to Essex and Suffolk Border League premier division side Tiptree Engaine on Saturday as preparations for the start of the BetVictor Isthmian League division north campaign continue.

The first game of that campaign will be a trip to Hullbridge Sports on August 17 and while it will be a first time in charge at that level for him, Benterman is pleased that he is at least familiar with the opposition, having come up against them while in joint charge at Stansted last season.

He said: "It's an unknown league for me to go into, but having Hullbridge to start with is something I do know.

"I'm sure they are happy about it as a starting game as well and it could have been a worse start for both of us.

"They will have momentum after coming up at champions from the Essex Senior League last year, but I know a lot of their players and coaching staff so I'm happy with that as our first game.

"But it is just the start of a big first week as we then have a home game against Bury Town on the Tuesday and a game in the FA Cup on the second Saturday.

"There will be a lot of prize money on offer then and we will have to make sure we are in a very good place, but I can guarantee that when August 17 comes around, that is never in doubt because we are going in the right direction.

"If we can start positively in that first week then the momentum from that will be massive, so we want to be resilient in pre-season and make sure we take that into our first game."

Some key games for Witham this year include a trip to highly-fancied Maldon & Tiptree on August Bank Holiday Monday, while Boxing Day action returns this year in the form of a game at another of the division north title favourites, Coggeshall Town.

The return fixture against Coggeshall will be at Witham on Easter Monday and the season will close with a game at Spa Road against Soham Town Rangers.

It is exciting for Benterman in his first year in charge, but his focus for now is preparing for that first game and he has been pleased with how his squad building has been going.

He added: "Every manager says the same at this stage of pre-season, but I'm really pleased with how the boys have gelled as a unit.

"I think that has come from the recruitment that we've made as we've not just looked at them as players but at their personalities and made sure they would be a good fit to the group.

"You can see how they've gelled when one of them scores and the banter between them.

"If it's not there then players head back to their positions, but our lads are jumping on each other and genuinely pleased for each other and that's really pleasing for us as coaches. "It's lovely to see and I think the fans are buying into what we are doing as well. "It's still early doors for us, but the remarks we are getting from fans have been so positive. "It shows we are making the right decisions and making real strides forward."

Benterman has continued adding to his squad this week with the addition of former West Ham United trainee and Ebbsfleet central midfielder Teddy Hudson.

The Town boss said: "He is an intelligent player, who is aggressive and a fantastic addition to the group.

"You can see that he has been coached professionally; he is a very special talent."