Buzzing fans, players and staff at Crawley Town are looking forward to this season’s opening League 1 match when former Premier League club Coventry City visit Broadfield Stadium.
This Saturday’s eagerly-waited opening game brings one of the biggest clubs Reds will face and it is sure to be a thriller with Crawley going into the game fresh from a busy five-week pre-season campaign which ended on a high last Saturday with a confidence-building 3-0 defeat of Premier League newboys Crystal Palace.
The Sky Blues spent 11 seasons in the Championship before being relegated one year ago and arrive after a traumatic period which has seen them in administration since March.
They have been locked into a dispute with the company which operates their Ricoh Arena stadium over charges.
Unless they quickly resolve the dispute, City are switching home venue to groundshare with Northampton Town.
Crawley Town have been boosted by the appointment of a new well respected CEO, former Birmingham City and Everton chief executive Michael Dunford.
Last night he was named as the replacement for the recently departed Richard Low.
Reds manager Richie Barker spoke about the anticipation of beginnning the new campaign but warned this will be one of the hardest games of the season.
He said: “Coventry is going to be one of our toughest games, despite the issues they’ve gone through. It’s going to be extremely tough.
“I’m expecting a decent crowd and a good game of football.
“It should be a buzz for everyone - the players and managers are no different from the fans.”
Barker expects this Saturday’s game to be harder than when the two sides met in April when Reds gained an excellent 2-0 victory.
He said: “Their manager (Steven Pressley) had only just gone there and had no time to work with the team. He will be better prepared and it will be a better team.”
Although Barker could still make changes to the starting XI, it is likely to be similar to the one which played so well last weekend.
He said: “I was really pleased with the performance of our players against Crystal Palace - all the senior players got 90 minutes so they know what it’s like. The result didn’t really matter. I’m sure if they put out their full team for 90 minutes it could have been a different result.
“The whole five weeks of pre-season has gone exactly as we’d have liked it to go. We had a couple of lads missing for seven to ten days through injury but everyone’s fit for the first day.
“I almost know my starting line-up for Coventry and it’s not necessarily the line-up which beat Palace!”