Barton will present tough test in opener for FC Stratford

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DAVE Poulson reckons FC Stratford will quickly get an idea of the challenges ahead for the new Midland League Division Three season after their opening match.

Poulson, appointed manager after Pete Stephens moved upstairs to become director of football, will make his debut as boss on Saturday when FC travel to Barton United.

Stratford pipped Barton for fourth place last season and Poulson, who has plenty of Midland League experience with Alcester Town, has no doubts Barton will again be promotion contenders.

“Barton are one of those sides that I fully expect to be right up there,” said Poulson.

“It’s a really tough opening fixture.

“Barton have always been a solid team in this league and they tend to start well. But I’m looking forward to it and the lads are looking forward to it.

“Everybody has been very positive in pre-season but pre-season in one thing, the real business starts on Saturday.

“We want to get the result to start our season, but I’m just as sure Barton will feel the same.”

FC, who ended the warm-up programme with a 6-2 win against FISSC on Monday, have had 30-40 players training in pre-season and the numbers have been whittled down to 20-25.

Highly-rated Freddy Murphy, however, will be missing for the Barton match.

Coulson will have Brian Wilkes and Alex Gardner as his assistants after the back-room reshuffle.