ROB Small believes tonight’s pre-season friendly with Colchester United will show how far Bowers & Pitsea have come since he took over as manager five years ago.

Bowers are set to welcome the League Two side to the Len Salmon Stadium as both clubs prepare for the upcoming campaign.

And Small, whose side are readying themselves for a first ever term in the Isthmian Premier League, is eager for Bowers to build a relationship with Colchester.

The Bowers chief said: “This friendly is not about the result or performance, it’s about Bowers.

“It’s a mark of how far we have come as a club in the last few years.

“We are welcoming a professional Football League club to the Len Salmon Stadium when they probably hadn’t even heard of Bowers & Pitsea five years ago.

“If we had asked for a friendly in the past, it would either not have come to fruition or they certainly wouldn’t have been bringing their first team.

“I just hope that we represent ourselves on and off the field well.

“Hopefully we will be able to make friendlies with Colchester a regular occurrence because it would be great to play them each year.”

Bowers, who clinched the Isthmian North title and finished 12 points clear of their nearest challengers last term, returned to training last week.

And, since being crowned champions, Small has been able to make four new signings.

Callum Chafer has returned to the club, while Kenzer Lee, Marlon Agyakwa and Dan Trendall have also joined.

Although Small insists spirits have been high from the moment his squad returned to training, he admits his side were back on the pitch sooner than originally scheduled after tonight’s friendly was arranged.

Small added: “It’s a great opportunity for us that we couldn’t turn down and it’s a privilege to have their first team coming to play us at the Len Salmon Stadium.

“We probably wouldn’t have started training until tomorrow, but we came back early because we want to be prepared to face Colchester.

“We wanted to get our sharpness back in the bank before playing them because we want to give a good account of ourselves.

“It goes without saying that we know we will be inferior to Colchester and having to work hard off the ball.

“But the aim of coming back for pre-season a bit earlier is to give ourselves a chance and it will make it a worthwhile exercise for my players.”