DETERMINED Dunbar United boss Geoff Jones has set his sights on pushing towards the top of the league.

The Seasiders were tipped by many as “relegation fodder” in the first season of the East of Scotland Football League Premier Division.

However, they defied their critics to finish 11th in the table – comfortably clear of Newtongrange Star, Whitehill Welfare and Blackburn United, who were spared relegation when the season was ruled finished.

Jones does not want simply to be battling the drop though and has set his side an ambitious target of finishing in the top six for when the new season kicks off, whenever that may be.

He said: “I think it will be a right challenge but one that we are up for.

“If we play at the level and desire we showed for most of last season, I think we will cause teams bother.

“We are setting our sights up the table.

“We are not simply looking to stave off relegation, we are looking to kick on.

“One of the potential likelihoods with this situation is it might bring the gap between the teams closer.

“Money might not be such a big issue.”

Jones and his side might not be the richest in the top division of the East of Scotland Football League but the club’s committee are working hard behind the scenes to make them as attractive a proposition as possible for potential signings.

The manager said: “I spoke to the committee in a Zoom meeting last Monday night.

“I’m not wanting to be manager of a club that gets to a certain level – we’ve progressed massively in the last six years – and then progresses back the way.

“The committee needs to look to bring in new blood, with new ideas and to keep the club moving forward.

“If the committee does it off the field, we will do it on it.”

Looking ahead to the new season, the club has already announced more than a dozen of last season’s squad have extended their stay at New Countess Park.

John Johnstone, Daniel Laing, James Harley, Michael McFarlane, Grant Thomson, Liam Peden, Keith Tait, Kieran Ingram, Darren Handling, Jordan Cropley, Fraser Neave, Fraser McLaren, Zach Szemis and Darren McTernan have already confirmed they will be playing their football in Dunbar next season.

However, they have also lost top scorer Dean Ballantyne, who has moved to Musselburgh Athletic, and club captain Steven Tait, who has linked up with former Dunbar midfielder and assistant manager Chris King at Newtongrange Star, with Darren McCraw, Lloyd Fiddler and Liam McCathie also moving on to pastures new.

All players left with Jones’ best wishes and the manager said: “I signed Dean out of the under-19s at Musselburgh and he is one that they let slip away.

“We went in and took a gamble and Dean has been brilliant for me. I’m very close with him and played with his dad. Dean has been first class but ultimately his hometown team came calling.

“They have been after him for two or three years and I have been pulling at his heartstrings to keep him here.

“This year, it was one year too far and he wanted a new challenge.”

Jones was also quick to praise Tait, who lives in Edinburgh and has a young family.

The manager said: “I made Steven captain when I came in and he has been great for me.

“He grew into the role and I had an inkling that there might be a difficulty in keeping him.”

The manager is in discussions with other clubs and players to strengthen his squad for the new campaign.

However, he was keeping his cards close to his chest and stressed no deals would be announced until the appropriate time.