The United Counties League Premier North season kicks off next week with both Holbeach and Pinchbeck United unsure what to expect.
The 21-22 campaign kicks off next Wednesday night (August 4) with Pinchbeck United hosting Sleaford Town and Holbeach United travelling to Skegness Town.
Tigers manager Phil Barnes described his club’s off-season as being ‘stop-start’ with Holbeach having to call sessions and friendlies off due to players isolating.
They did get games in a 1-0 loss to Bourne on Saturday and 6-0 loss at Stamford on Tuesday night.
On the positive side they have been able to bring in the likes of Fraser Bayliss and Stacey Cartwright ahead of the opener.
“Despite it being stop-start we’ve been improving every game,” said Barnes. “Going forward I’m quietly confident we’re going to be ok.
“We’ve lost a lot of players over the last three weeks but we’re getting there.
“We’ve worked hard on getting a good squad together.
“Fraser and Aaron Eyett have been big positives during pre-season and we’re delighted to get Nick Jackson back who only came in right at the end of last season and will be like a new signing for us.
“We may look to get another experienced player in as we’ve quite a few youngsters but there’s also plenty of opportunities for them to step up.”
For Pinchbeck the goal is much simpler – it’s now coming up to two years since they last won a competitive game.
The truncated seasons and lack of relegation has kept them at this level, but that will likely have to change this season.
Boss Lewis Thorogood said: “We need to just break that hoodoo. I think Pinchbeck as a club has only picked up five points in the league in two and a half seasons. It’s just baby steps for a start.
“My role at the minute is to make Pinchbeck United sustainable and competitive at this level.
“We’ve four competitions we’re playing in this season and we’ll look to win as many games as possible in them.”
Pinchbeck have a friendly against Moulton on Friday after a 1-1 draw with Wyberton on Tuesday night in which Jake Knight scored and 2-0 loss to Doncaster Rovers Academy.
For Thorogood the opener at Sleaford Town is like much of the season.
Sleaford have struggled alongside Pinchbeck for much of the last couple of years, but Thorogood expects them to be a different side.
“A lot has changed for most clubs,” he said. “Sleaford have new owners, management and players.
“It’s been such a long time and everybody is starting afresh.
“We’ll give them the upmost respect and ensure and make sure we take every game as it comes on its individual merits.
“It’ll be a tough game, but we’re progressing in the right way.”