Buxton assistant manager Tim Ryan says getting smiles back on players’ faces is key as the new season approaches fast.
The Bucks recorded their first win of the summer with a 4-2 success over Gainsborough last weekend, Liam Hardy netting a hat-trick.
And although results mean little in pre-season, Ryan, who stood in for Martin McIntosh while the Bucks manager was on holiday, felt it was important for morale to have secured the victory.
He said: “The first few pres-eason games were about getting minutes under the players’ belts and improving fitness, but as time goes on you want them to be enjoying their football too.
“So I wanted them to go out there on Saturday and get smiles back on their faces. We’d had games against league sides where we didn’t get as much of the ball, but on Saturday I wanted us to push higher up the pitch and create more chances.”
Overall, Ryan has been pleased with how pre-season has gone and feels confident the Bucks squad is now largely complete.
He said: “In past seasons we’ve ended up being a bit threadbare towards the end so we’ve been keen to build a good squad of about 18, with most key players contracted, that can remain with us throughout the entire season and give us strength-in-depth when we need it.
“That’s often the difference between having a successful season and not. We’re fortunate in the the club backs us massively in that sense and gives us a big advantage, particularly with players on contract as they can’t then just be hand-picked away from us.”
Buxton host Leek Town in their final friendly on Saturday before the new Evo-Stik Premier League season starts at home to Lancaster City on August 12.
Ryan added: “We’ll focus on the Leek game being an opportunity to get players fully fit in what will be a tough test as it always is.
“It might not be 100 per cent the same starting line up or squad as for the first league game, but it’s about getting everyone ready and sharp for the opener.”