Saints set for season opener at Barrow

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Brackley Town manager Jon Brady is hopeful his side can emulate last season’s achievements ahead of their opening encounter at Barrow AFC tomorrow, Saturday.

Saints performed way above expectations last year, finishing third in the table before losing out in the play-off final.

Brady has set his team the same targets this season, though he believes it will be a lot tougher. He said: “Not much has changed from last season.

“We still have the same goals and aims as last year. Our first target will be to get to 50 points as quickly as possible and then assess from there.

“We’d obviously like to emulate last season but it’ll be much tougher as teams know a lot more about us.

“Pre-season went well but I think pre-seasons can be pretty false. The results are affected by all the subs so I’m not too bothered by that.”

Brady also believes the 2013/14 Skrill Conference North will be a more equal league after Chester ran away with last year’s title.

He added: “I think the league will be a bit different this season, it’s a more even competition and there will be 16 or 18 teams who will believe they can get play-offs.

“There won’t be a runaway team, but sides who have spent big like Harrogate, Guiseley, North Ferriby and Oxford City will be strong.”

Brady has made three new additions to his squad, with midfielder Steve Towers, right-back Neil Cartwright and striker Charlie Griffin all coming in, while Jefferson Louis, Tom Winters and James Clifton have left the club.

Saints face a tough start to their campaign when they make the four-hour trip to Barrow, who were relegated from the Conference Premier last season, tomorrow afternoon.

“It’s a good start,” added Brady. “Everyone’s fit and ready to go. It’ll be a very tough start against a good Conference team but we’re looking forward to it.

Barrow boss, Dave Bayliss, said: “All the lads are really excited and this game gives us that little benchmark for where we need to be because Brackley will be up there this season.

“We’ve had them watched and we know that they’re of a similar standard to last season – and they were very good last season. So that’s the benchmark we’ve got in front of us.”