BURY Town will be looking to get their season off to the perfect start, with victory on their travels at rank-outsiders Horsham.
The Blues visit the West Sussex outfit tomorrow (3pm) having been installed as 9-1 third favourites to lift the Ryman League Premier Division title.
Meanwhile, the Hornets are priced at 50-1 for the championship, having survived relegation by a mere six points last season, and Bury boss Richard Wilkins is targeting an opening day win.
“I’ll be looking for three points on Saturday,” he said. “We have to set our stall out early because a good start to the season can keep you up right up there.
“Championships aren’t won at the start of the season, but it can certainly help you by getting off to a good start. Getting points on the board certainly takes the pressure off.”
Bury welcome two more of last season’s strugglers to Ram Meadow for their opening two league matches, when Hendon visit on Tuesday (7.45pm) and Hastings United make the trip to Suffolk on Saturday, August 27 (3pm).
The Blues took a total of 14 points from a possible 18 against those three teams last season, but Wilkins has warned his players to take nothing for granted.
“We’ll get a lot more respect this year,” he said.
“Teams will probably be a bit more defensively-minded. There was a definite change about Christmas time when teams came and put bodies behind the ball and tried to counter-attack. It is up to us to break that down.”
James Scowcroft is set to miss as many as 12 weeks of the season after scans revealed he ruptured an abductor muscle in his groin when he took a tumble during Bury’s 1-1 draw with Cambridge United last week.
He was set to be suspended for the opening two matches, while Tom Bullard and Danny Cunningham will be absent for one and five matches respectively for suspensions hanging over from last season.
Roy Essandoh, who agreed a deal with the Ram Meadow outfit this week, will be joined in the squad by Luke Ingram, Craig Nurse, Richard Robbins and Elliot Hunter – who is competing with Russell Short for a start at right-back.
Wilkins added: “The whole club is up for it – the players we have brought in make our squad significantly better than what it was last year. John Kennedy was with Histon until two years ago, Lee Smith was performing regularly in the Conference last season, Danny Cunningham is a very talented player and Stephen Smith has been at Cambridge United.”
n Odds with Sky Bet.