Brackley ready for 'robust' season opener
Kevin Wilkin insists Brackley Town are 'under no illusions' of how tough their opening game of the Vanarama National League North season at Chorley will be this weekend.
After a pre-season, which was hampered by his squad having to isolate for a period of time due to a case of Covid-19, Wilkin’s team head to the north-west for their curtain-raiser on Saturday.
Despite the 2020-21 league campaign being cut short for the second season in a row due to the pandemic, Chorley still managed to make the headlines with an impressive run to the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Wilkin expects them to be a force to be reckoned with again this time around and he admits this weekend’s clash could be 'a baptism of fire' for some of Saints’ summer signings.
“You can look up and down the league and at the size of some of the clubs we are up against and you just know it’s going to be difficult,” the Brackley boss said.
“Chorley are a robust side and they did very well in the FA Cup last season and, no doubt, would have finished the league season well.
“We aren’t under any illusions of how difficult the opening game will be but I would expect their pitch to be in good shape and will allow us to play some football and hopefully give a decent account of ourselves.
“We have a lot of inexperienced players for the level and it will be a baptism of fire for them to come in and be involved in a game like that.
“It is tough but every game is going to be tough. We know what to expect.”
Brackley themselves have been looking up rather than down over the last few seasons with a couple of near misses in the play-offs.
They will be fancied by many to be there or thereabouts again, despite losing key players Shane Byrne and Ethan Coleman to Boston United and King’s Lynn Town respectively this summer.
Wilkin insists there will still be a certain 'expectation' amongst his players to maintain that consistent form they have shown in recent campaigns.
“Lots of teams who play us now look at us as a bit of a yardstick and that brings about a certain expectation within the group,” he added.
“There’s an expectation there already, of course, but it adds something else to it.
“We have lost two fantastic players over the summer and we have changed the squad a bit.
“It’s all about how quickly we can progress the more inexperienced players in the squad.
“That will be the challenge for us and we need those who are still with us to show the same consistency.
“There will be clubs who didn’t get the chance to achieve what they wanted last season and they won’t be sitting on their hands. They will want to go for it.
“It never gets any easier, but we love the challenge.”