Buxton FC boss Paul Phillips expects ‘stern test’ in season opener at Scarborough Athletic

Buxton manager Paul Phillips
Buxton manager Paul Phillips

Buxton FC boss Paul Phillips is expecting a stern test in the 2019/20 BetVictor NPL Premier Division season opener at Scarborough Athletic on Saturday.

The Bucks go into their curtain-raiser on the back of two wins in a week at home to complete their pre-season schedule of fixtures, concluding with a 3-0 win over Widnes.

An own goal and strikes from Martin Pilkington and Jude Oyibo gave Buxton the victory at the Tarmac Silverlands Stadium over an NPL Division One North-West opponent.

And Phillips said it was a good workout for his side ahead of the 200+ mile round trip north to the Flamingo Land Stadium to take on Scarborough, managed by John Deacey.

“Friday was a good workout for us,” Phillips told the Advertiser. “They were a big and robust team that put us under a bit of pressure.

“It was realistic to what we’re going to have this week in the shape of Scarborough.

“Scarborough are a good team and a big club. It’ll be a test going there, especially as they’re under a new manager as well.

“It’ll be a physical test for us and they’ll be cheered on by 1,400-1,500 people so there will be a crowd to put up with.

“No matter what, though, they’re a big club and scored a lot of goals last year.

“They’ve got experience at the back and a good goalkeeper so I think it’ll be a stern test but one I hope we can come away with three points from.”

Scarborough were the division’s joint-fourth-highest scorers last season with 70 and have kept the services of goal machine James Walshaw, who bagged 25 of those.

Buxton, in comparison, had a better goal difference and points total, finishing in the play-offs three places above Scarborough.

The Bucks will once again look to top marksman Liam Hardy, who scored 16 last season, to lead the front line.

“We’re in a good place,” said Phillips. “Everyone’s fit, which is a big bonus, and it means there’ll be one or two left out of the squad come Saturday.

“Everyone’s had the opportunity to play and stake a claim so anyone who is disappointed can’t have any sour grapes that they’ve not had their chance.”

And added: “I know my 16 unless something drastic happens between now and then.

“It’s going to be a squad which is going to get used because we’ve got four games in nine days coming up. We start with a bang.”

Following the trip to Scarborough on Saturday, Buxton host Nantwich Town on Tuesday 20th August (7.45pm) and Whitby Town on Saturday 24th August (3pm) at Silverlands before travelling to Hyde United on Monday 26th August (3pm).

They finish the month at home to Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday 31st August (3pm).