Wilkin hopes to shake off the heartbreak as Brackley return
Brackley Town return to action for the first time since their play-off heartbreak this weekend.
The Saints make the short trip to take on Banbury United as the build-up towards the new season, which gets under way for Brackley with the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup on October 3, gathers pace.
Kevin Wilkin’s team suffered a penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Gateshead in the National League North play-offs in July.
And the Brackley boss is hoping his team will use their opening friendly on Saturday as an opportunity to blow the cobwebs away.
“We obviously had the disappointment of the play-offs so we have to pick ourselves up and bounce back from that,” Wilkin said.
“I think we have made some good signings and I am very much looking forward to getting going and seeing the guys back out on the field.
“We generally have a friendly fixture with Banbury each year and they usually turn out to be competitive affairs.
“I expect a tough game. Andy has gone in there and picked up from Mike Ford and seems to be building a good side.
“For us, it’s a starting point to get rid of the cobwebs. I am not expecting us to pull up any trees but if we play to the level we are capable of then it will give us a chance of getting a result.
“The most important thing is getting everyone through the game fit and well but, equally, you want to keep winning games because it becomes a habit.”
Wilkin has been busy in the transfer market with defender Harry Flowers and striker Ashley Chambers being the first new arrivals of the summer.
And they have been followed into St James Park by former Northampton Town defender Aaron Phillips and forward Wes York, who proved to be a big hit with the Brackley faithful during a loan spell from York City last season.
“Wes went in there alongside Lee and when they played together they forged a strong partnership,” Wilkin added.
“We are hopeful they can replicate that and pick up from where they left off.
“But you also have Ash Chambers who has come on board and there will potentially be one more to come in that area as well.
“We are really pleased with the boys we have got in so far and hopefully we will have a bit more depth about us for the new campaign to ensure we remain competitive.”
For their part, Banbury go into Saturday’s game on the back of a comfortable 6-1 friendly success over Wantage Town in midweek.
Assistant-manager James Constable scored twice while there were also goals from Kelvin Langmead, Amer Awadh, Giorgio Rasulo and Pablo Haysham.
The Puritans now know that they will open their Southern League Premier Central campaign with a trip to Royston Town on September 19 and that is followed by back-to-back home matches with Redditch United (September 26) and Hednesford Town (September 29).
Over Christmas, Banbury will travel to Stratford Town on Boxing Day before hosting Barwell on January 2 while the season will finish on May 8 with a home clash against Peterborough Sports.
Easington Sports have booked their place in the preliminary round of the Emirates FA Cup.
The non-League season got under way on Tuesday night with the extra preliminary round and Sports made the perfect start as they hosted Tring Athletic in their tie.
Josh Bowden gave them the lead after 17 minutes and the advantage was doubled on the stroke of half-time thanks to Piers Walton.
There were no further goals after the break as Sports completed a 2-0 victory to earn themselves £1,125 in prize money and a trip to either Dunstable Town or Thame Rangers who were due to play their tie last night (Wednesday).