Away to Wigton is just about as tough as it gets for an opening day fixture. The game is the start of a testing September for the Black Reds with meeting scheduled against three sides who will all anticipate being in the shake-up come next April.
The summer months at Bower Park have been interesting both on and off the field. Off the field we don’t seem to have been free of building works for many weeks. However, the wet stock cellar refurbishment is now complete and the new roof project is well underway. We hope to have the latter completed by the time De La Salle visit us at the end of September.
For the Wigton game we are definitely without Mark Beverley and Jack Clegg who sustained long term injuries in the Fylde friendly. There are a number of new faces at Bower Park, the majority with youth on their side. Good signs in training and early season friendlies that a few of these will be pushing established first teamers for positions as the campaign makes progress.
New captain, Matthew Atkinson is making his presence felt in the dressing room and leaving players in little doubt around what is expected from them in maintain club standards both on and off the field.
Elsewhere in the league there are a number of intriguing fixtures
ALDWINIANS v TARLETON. Tarleton coming into the division yet again and no doubt with ambitions to establish themselves. Aldwinians got off to a poor opening last time around and it nearly cost them their league place. This is a game the home side will not want to lose.
BOLTON v TRAFFORD. Recent campaigns suggest this is a home banker with most league watchers expecting Bolton to be challenging for the championship. However, Trafford in their first season settled well and were definitely a side with some potential. Visitors should run the home side close.
BURNLEY v HAWCOAT PARK. Burnley appear in the league courtesy of the play-off’s and may take some time to adjust to the week in week out quality that this higher division offers. However, it may be a good time to meet HP as they do rely to a small extent on available RL players and they may still be involved in the summer competition. Home euphoria may just be enough for opening day success.
ECCLES v LITTLEBOROUGH. Eccles relegated into the league but still carry the experience of playing in the higher division and will be a tough ask at home. Home side is in a rebuild phase and if Boro travel in strength it could be a day one upset.
FLEETWOOD v OLDHAM. Kippers unseated a fancied Aspatria side in the same fixture last season. However, they fell away badly towards the end of the season. With Oldham expected to be a challenger this time around it may be a difficult day at the seaside for the home supporters.
KESWICK v DLS. Title favourites DLS travel to the new boys. Keswick have an exciting young side that may need time to develop and this is not the opening fixture they would have wished for. It would be a major surprise if DLS slipped up.