Barnstaple Town’s new era begins on Saturday, as Richard Pears faces his first Evo-Stik League South West game at the helm.
Barum travel to AFC Totton on the opening day, and three points would quickly erase what’s been a mixed pre-season schedule.
Pears, announced as the new manager in May, has been tasked with rebuilding the Barnstaple side. Only three remain from the squad available to Barry Yeo in his final game against Shortwood United in April. Many can now be found at Bideford and Bridgwater Town.
“It’s been difficult,” said Pears.
“It’s been a rebuilding job and the rebuild is still going on and will do for the next four to six weeks. That’s the nature of having to rebuild.
“Kevin and I have worked tirelessly to prepare every one as best as we can and bring the right people in.”
Barnstaple play their final pre-season friendly tomorrow night (Wednesday) against Appledore, a game organised after a 5-0 win over Launceston on Saturday.
While the score was one Barum welcomed, it was overshadowed by an injury to Matt Andrew, with the midfield man apparently damaging a cruciate ligament just before half-time.
The loss of an experienced player such as Andrew is a huge dent ahead of Totton on Saturday and the season ahead, but Pears said his side is prepared for the test.
“We are prepared as best as we can be but we know Saturday is going to be a massive challenge for us,” the manager said.
“I ask the supporters to be patient. We have got a long-term plan and there’s no short term fix, but we want to start well.
“If we apply ourselves correctly there’s no reason why we can’t go and get something.
“To be managing my first game in the Southern League will be a mixture of emotions, excitement, apprehension, and caution because it’s a bit of an unknown for me.
“I have said to the players they have to grasp every minute of it and embrace it and work hard. That’s 90 per cent of the battle.
“We want to start well, but we know the severity of the challenge. The thing with the opening day of the season is no-one wants to get beaten.”