Boss Cowan in a positive mood as Brackley gear up for the curtain-raiser

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A new era will dawn for Brackley Town this weekend as their Vanarama National League North campaign swings into action.

It has been a summer of change at St James Park with Gavin Cowan being installed the club’s new manager.

Former AFC Telford United boss Cowan was involved with the Saints at the back end of last season as he helped captain Gareth Dean lead the team to the play-off final, only to see their hopes of promotion dashed as they were beaten 2-0 by Kidderminster Harriers.

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Cowan was officially appointed soon after that loss and, since then, he has overseen a big turnaround in the playing squad.

Brackley rounded off their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 win over National League South outfit Oxford City last weekend with returning defender Alex Gudger scoring the only goal.

Now the real business is about to get under way with the Saints facing a tricky opening-day trip to Chorley.

But Cowan insists he couldn’t be happier with where his players are at as a fresh campaign gets started.

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“I feel we are in a really good place to hit the ground running,” the Brackley boss said.

“I don’t think we are near our peak and it was always obvious that, with a new group, it was going to take time to gel.

“I think it makes it quite exciting because if we are in a good place now when we haven’t quite peaked then I am looking forward to when we do.

“It’s a new group, we have to make sure we manage them right and remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I couldn’t be more pleased with where we are.

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“In these early stages we will need a lot of professionalism and a bit of leadership.

“The important thing at the moment is making sure we turn up on the day.

“The group have been fantastic and all credit to the players because their attitude and application to what has been asked of them has been exceptional.”

Cowan admits it is the worst time of year for doing research on other teams with so much “chopping and changing” during pre-season.

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But, with Chorley being a team who are usually in and around the play-off places, the Saints manager knows his players will be in for a tough early test on Saturday.

The Magpies rounded off their own pre-season schedule on Tuesday night with a 5-3 win over a Manchester City XI at Victory Park.

And Cowan added: “It’s the worst time of the year really when it comes to due diligence because managers are chopping and changing and trying to find their own secret remedy.

“Of course, we have done as much as possible but what is certain is that Chorley is always a difficult place to go.

“They are a really competitive team and we will have to be at our best.”