Mark Bower believes that the season opener is ‘not about getting revenge’ against Brackley Town, but last season’s play-off heartache will be fresh in the memory ahead of the visit of the Saints.
Bradford were the only team in the National League North to do the double over Kevin Wilkin’s men last season, but were knocked out of the play-offs by a 110th-minute strike from Brackley’s Aaron Williams.
Marksman Williams has since departed for Harrogate Town, but Brackley have strived to maintain the core of last season’s squad in similar fashion to how Bradford have. Solihull Moors swooped for highly-rated defender Alex Gudger, but most of the stars of last season’s FA Trophy triumph remain at St James Park.
Both sides celebrated victories on the opening day of the 2017/18 season, with Bradford securing a win over Tamworth thanks to a late winner and Brackley edging past FC United of Manchester.
GUIDE TO THE OPPONENTS:
The Gaffer: Kevin Wilkin
The man that guided Brackley to a Wembley win and a play-off final took charge of the Saints in September 2015. He had previously steered Wrexham to the FA Trophy final and led Nuneaton Borough (then known as Town) to three promotions during an eight-year spell as manager. He also enjoyed two spells with Nuneaton as a player, and also represented Cambridge City, Northampton Town, Rushden & Diamonds and Grantham Town.
Key Player: Gareth Dean
Widely regarded as one of the division’s most talented defenders, the imposing Dean played under Wilkin at Nuneaton and was brought to St James Park from Solihull Moors in 2016. A tough-tackler who poses a significant aerial threat, Dean was crucial to the Saints’ success last season and scored a stoppage-time equaliser in the FA Trophy final to force extra-time. His physical presence and leadership qualities will, once again, make Brackley a difficult side to break down and he is likely to wear the captains’ armband against Bradford.
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Admission – Adults: £12 / Concessions: £9 / Students: £7 / Under-16s: £2
Kick-off – 3pm
Venue – Horsfall Stadium
Coverage – Live updates on our official Twitter feed (@BPAFCOfficial) and a full match report on our official website (bpafc.com) on Saturday evening.