A new look Brackley Town squad make the trip to Conference North new boys AFC Fylde this weekend to kick-off their 2014/15 campaign.
Saints, who finished seventh last season, follow tomorrow’s opener with their first home game of the season against Boston United next Tuesday.
Following two impressive years in the Conference North, a promotion challenge is unlikely this season with the club having to work under a reduced budget which has seen a number of star players leave St James Park over the summer, including Glenn Walker, Steve Diggin and Stefan Moore.
As a result, manager Jon Brady has rebuilt a youthful-looking squad for the 2014/15 campaign with a number of new young faces onboard, such as 19-year-old goalkeeper Dean Snedker, who joined on loan from Northampton Town on Wednesday, as well as Ricky Johnson and Will Green.
Brady said: “We’re building a new team and it’s a different challenge. The squad isn’t finalised yet, we need to bring in another couple of players.
“This will be the toughest challenge of managerial career. The first target is to get to 50 points as quickly as we can.”
The club’s chairman, Francis Oliver, added: “I have attended all of the first team pre-season games so far and am encouraged to see the quality of some of the new additions to the squad.
“It will be an interesting season and a big challenge but the enthusiasm of the players is plain to see. Jon is aiming for a relatively small squad and is hoping to bring in young players eager to make their mark.”
Work on improving Brackley’s home ground, St James Park, has continued over the summer, with Oliver adding: “We’ve replaced the dilapidated old fencing at the cricket ground end and concreted some of the grassy areas to increase standing capacity at this end of the ground.
“New bins and perimeter mesh fencing have also been put in and fresh signage put up wherever needed.
“Further, we have installed additional office accommodation by the new changing rooms for Jon and club officials with space for a kit room.”
Last Saturday, Brackley completed pre-season with a 4-1 defeat to League One outfit Milton Keynes Dons.
Ben Reeves put the Dons ahead on 16 minutes with a shot into the roof of the net following good work from Dean Bowditch before Will Gregg’s 34th minute strike gave the visitors a 2-0 half-time lead.
After the break, Tom Hitchcock’s volley made it 3-0 before Saints enjoyed a period on top with Ricky Johnson causing problems and three times going close to scoring.
MK Dons bagged a fourth through Mark Randall, however, before Will Green netted a well deserved consolation.
Brackley Town’s brand new Development team begin their first ever campaign this weekend when they entertain Burnham in Hellenic League Division One East on Saturday.
Oliver said: “I have seen some of the Development team’s warm-up games and feel excited about this step into the unknown for these young players. I have no doubt they will both enjoy the season and acquit themselves well.
“For the first time in many seasons, we will have league football at St James Park every Saturday throughout the course of the season.”