Staying up is the modest target for Spalding Town as they begin life back in the Lincs ECB Premier Division on Saturday.
Experienced skipper Rob Ambrose admits that his side are stronger than they’ve been in recent seasons ahead of the Spalding Grammar School opener with Grimsby Town on Saturday (noon) – but he isn’t interested in setting any lofty targets.
Town, promoted as South Lincs and Border League champions last season, have lost young talents Jimmy Hook and David Thomas to Premier Division rivals Market Deeping.
But Ambrose is happy to have re-signed all-rounder Luke Hollingworth from Sleaford, while also adding left arm quick bowler Jonny Miles from Billingborough and opener/off-spinner Faisal Javeed from Huntingdon.
And, with talented all-rounded Hafiz Majeed and the free-scoring duo Warren Nel and Josh Newton also staying put, Ambrose believes he has the best squad since his class of 2014.
However, he does believe that Spalding and Grimsby will be two of the sides that could be battling for survival – meaning a win on Saturday is already key.
“I think we’ll be OK this year,” said Ambrose. “We struggled last time we were in the top flight, but we’re stronger now.
“Obviously it’s a shame to have lost Jimmy and David. We wish them well, but we only want players here that want to play for the club.
“We’ve added three, though, so we can’t grumble too much. The squad does look a little older now, but experience is important at this level.
“I can see us being much more competitive than the season we were relegated. We’ve got a great group of lads and actually have depth now, which means we’ll not be hit too hard by unavailability.
“We have six or seven bowling options and lots of lads who can bat.
“In a way, I’d have liked one the big boys – a Bracebridge or Bourne – to start with. Grimsby, like us, will probably be fighting to stay up.
“With that in mind, it’s vital that we win. If we can get off to a good start, who knows what we can achieve. For now, it’s all about staying up.”
The South Lincs and Border League season also kicks into gear on Saturday.
Spalding 2nd are South Holland’s only representative in the Premier Division this season and they begin with a trip to Freiston (1pm).
In Division One, Moulton Harrox get under way with a clash at Belton Park, while Long Sutton – who are targeting promotion – travel to Billingborough 2nd (both 1pm).
Sutton have Adam Wright back in their ranks and youngsters Rajan Sangha, Dan Oldfield, Luke Barnes and Steven Milnes are all in the first team, but Jake Burton has left for Sandringham.
Down in Division Two, Long Sutton are also on the road at Freiston 2nd (1pm) for their opener on Sunday.