FOOTBALL: ‘More experience is the way to go from the start of the season’

Matt Varley scores in the play-off semi-final
Matt Varley scores in the play-off semi-final
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After losing the play-off final and missing out on promotion at the end of last season, it’s easy to see why this time Spalding United are among the favourites to go up.

The Tulips are ranked joint third in Betway’s title odds for the Evo-Stik South – alongside Saturday’s hosts Stocksbridge Park Steels.

The South Yorkshire side were beaten after extra-time in the play-off semi-final at the Sir Halley Stewart Field in April.

They meet again at the Look Local Stadium on the opening day of the new term.

Spalding manager Chris Rawlinson said: “It’s going to be an interesting start to the season.

“I’m sure the bookmakers are taking into account last season’s form with those odds for the championship.

We have people behind the scenes who work hard to ensure the budget is healthy – but it’s not the biggest in the league by any means.

Chris Rawlinson

“I would agree Frickley Athletic look strong with the likes of ourselves, Park Steels, Basford United, Corby Town, Kidsgrove Athletic and Leek Town.

“Our club is not being bankrolled by an extremely wealthy person who can throw £300 to £400 every week at any player.

“We have people behind the scenes who work hard to ensure the budget is healthy – but it’s not the biggest in the league by any means.

“We’ve got a few jewels in the under-21 development squad to help us out.

“They are not ready to come into the starting line-up on Saturday.

“But they will probably be integrated into the first-team squad over the next two or three months.

“More experience is the way to go from the start of the season.”

The big question will be how can Spalding cope after the departure of captain Nathan Stainfield and top scorer Bradley Wells, both to Gainsborough Trinity.

This summer, though, Stocksbridge have lost the services of Harrison Biggins who scored in both meetings at the Sir Halley Stewart Field last term. He joined League One club Fleetwood Town’s development squad.

At the end of this season, two teams will get automatic promotion along with the third-placed side with the best record across all six divisions in Step Four.

The play-off winners will also go up as the FA introduce a fourth feeder league which is expected to be Midlands-based and reduce travel times.

EVO-STIK SOUTH TITLE ODDS

Frickey 3, Leek 7, Spalding 9, Stocksbridge Park Steels 9, Belper 14, Cleethorpes 14, Alvechurch 16, Corby 16, Kidsgrove 16, Lincoln 16, Peterborough Sports 16, Basford 20, Bedworth 20, Chasetown 20, Sheffield 20, Gresley 33, Newcastle 33, Romulus 33, Stamford 33, Carlton 50, Loughborough Dynamo 50, Market Drayton 50.

Odds from Betway