LITTLE Oakley stalwart Jamie Dobkin believes his side must hit the ground running during a hectic start to the new Thurlow Nunn League campaign.

The Acorns kick-off with a first division south fixture at Burnham Ramblers on Saturday.

It is the first of seven matches during a breathless August, with other games coming up against Frenford, Halstead Town, Fire United, Coggeshall United and White Ensign, followed by an FA Vase date at Long Melford.

It promises to be a pivotal month, with so many points up for grabs.

And Dobkin believes a strong start is imperative, as his side aim to lay down a marker for their promotion ambitions.

“I'm really excited about the new season," he said.

“We already had a strong base and now, with the signings we've made, we've got real competition for places.

“It's a tough league but I firmly believe we'll be up there challenging and we're really hoping to build on what we achieved last season.

“There are some big teams in there – the likes of Halstead, Harwich and Coggeshall.

“All have strengthened and will expect to be pushing for one of those promotion places.

“Then there's the teams from further afield, outside our catchment area, that we don't know so much about. Presumably they'll be stronger, too.

“Sometimes we'll come up against proper footballing teams and on other occasions it'll be more of a battle.

“We've got to be prepared to mix it up a bit and it's going to be a long season, with games coming thick and fast.

“Within our first six matches alone, we've got Halstead, Coggeshall and White Ensign.

“That's why it's so important to hit the ground running and show what we're about from the start.

“It's going to be an interesting yardstick, to see where we're at, and if we can do well in those matches it will give everyone confidence."

Dobkin, 32, is a senior member of the Oakley squad, following previous spells at Harwich and Parkeston and Halstead Town.

He feels proud to have played his part in the club's rise to step six football, having progressed from the Essex and Suffolk Border League.

“I've seen the club change and grow so much down the years," he said.

“We might still be a village side but we're ambitious and, having achieved promotion to this level, we really want to push on again next year. It's very exciting.”