OXFORD City Stars are aiming for an immediate improvement next season as they look to muscle in on the big boys in NIHL Division 1 South.

The Oxpens outfit were comfortably eighth in the nine-team table last term, before losing to eventual winners Streatham in the play-off quarter-finals.

Director Greig Box Turnbull knows Stars must do better in 2022/23 and has set a clear target for head coach Simon Anderson.

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He said: “We want to become a top-six club next season and in the next few years chip away at the top four.

“The big clubs in our league have got bigger budgets and players want to play for them.

“Then there’s Solent, who are also competitive, and Slough have built a brilliant young squad.

“It’s an incredibly competitive league. There aren’t any easy games and we need to be better.

“We believe we can aim for the top six and push on from there.”

Stars have already been busy building their squad for 2022/23, with new signings Aaron Burton, Shannon Taylor and Brad Watchorn joining existing players Tom Ravenscroft, Chris Cooke and Ross Miller.

Box Turnbull recently told the Oxford Mail about the club’s aim to build a ‘new generation’ as part of a ‘culture change’ at Oxpens.

And he explained how Stars must progress on and off the pitch next term after a difficult first season back following the Covid-enforced break.

Box Turnbull said: “We need to develop young players and build the club commercially to give Simon a better budget.

“That means new sponsors and new supporters. The fans were superb last season, the attendances stayed up, which was fantastic.

“Coming back for the first year after Covid was about surviving and that’s given us a platform to build on.”

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Stars will also hope to gain from a new player development partnership with Bristol Honda Pitbulls.

The affiliation will see the National League club loan youngsters to the Oxpens outfit to allow rising stars to further their progress.

Pitbulls already have a partnership in place with Elite League side the Cardiff Devils.

Stars head of hockey operations Shane Moore said: “We’re pleased to have partnered with the Pitbulls, it set a great example last season in giving young players an opportunity.

“We are keen to work with them and offer those opportunities to players who want to progress.”

Jamie Elson, Bristol Honda Pitbulls’ director of hockey, said: “Speaking to Shane Moore it was great to hear about their plans in Oxford to take the club forward and what they wanted to do with the team this year.

“They are keen to work in partnership with us, and we can both see the benefits for the players and clubs.”