Tigers boss. Phil Barnes. Photo by KEN SMITH

Top six is the target for Holbeach United boss Barnes ahead of UCL season opener

Phil Barnes insists that Holbeach United will again target a top six finish in the Uhlsport UCL Premier Division this season.

The new Tigers boss, who replaced Danny Hussey over the summer, takes his side to Anstey Nomads on Saturday (3pm) for his first game in the top job before welcoming Deeping Rangers for a derby on Wednesday (7.45pm).

Barnes, a former UCL Premier Division winner as a player, admits that the league is much changed since he wore the yellow and black – but is confident that his side will still be one of the big-hitters what promises to be a competitive division.

“It’s fair to say the UCL is totally different now,” said the Tigers chief. “I’ve obviously never managed at this level before, so of course it’ll be a bit of a learning curve.

“But I’ve got a very good squad here, a lot of the lads have been here and done it plenty of times before.

“I do think that we’re still one attacking player light of where we’d ideally like to be, but that’ll be a case of waiting to see what happens with certain players in the coming weeks.

“This club has been in and around the top six for quite a while, so that will be the aim once again. I’m feeling pretty happy with what we’ve got in place here and I think that’s a realistic aim.”

Having lost 4-1 to Spalding United in the final of the Lincolnshire Free Press Trophy on Saturday, Holbeach got their competitive campaign under way with a 1-0 FA Cup win over Kirby Muxloe on Wednesday.

Barnes admits that his first two UCL games as boss will be very different, with the Anstey trip more of an unknown than the mouth-watering Deeping derby.

He’ll be without defender Jack Withers and forward Reif Clarke at the weekend, but new signing Tyler Finlay – who scored against Spalding – could feature.

He added: “We’ll go into every game looking to win, that’s how I see things.

“Anstey aren’t a side I know an awful lot about, but obviously Deeping are a big rival and the fans will look forward to that one.

“I’m looking forward to getting started and hopefully we can get off to a strong start.

“I’m not overly worried by the Spalding result. We had a few missing and they had a few strong players on trial, given the change of circumstances they’ve had at the top of the club.

“I fancied our chances having seen them earlier in pre-season, but it wasn’t to be. It’s more important that we start the competitive games well.”

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