Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South - Spalding United 2 Loughborough Dynamo 0
The early signs are certainly showing plenty of promise for Spalding United over the next eight months.
This season may not provide too many tests which will be tougher than the Tulips faced on Tuesday night in their first home league game of the season.
A tight game was settled by Josh Moreman’s deflected drive and substitute Jordan Nuttell’s far-post header.
Spalding were forced to fight hard for a clean sheet as Loughborough Dynamo – who scored six times on Saturday – pushed them all the way.
Neal Spafford picked up the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award for his role at the heart of the defence.
He stood firm alongside Paul Walker but it’s easy to see why Tulips manager Pat Rayment wants to bring in another centre-half ahead of Nathan Stainfield’s return.
Moving Walker to right-back would give a real threat from Mitch Griffiths further forward.
Although Michael Frew led the line well and posed some problems for Dynamo’s back four, he needed more support at times.
For the second half he had Tom Waumsley as a strike partner with last season’s top scorer replacing Jack Barlow who failed to impress on his full debut.
New signings Moreman and Adam Millson are both keen to go on the attack as often as possible.
They can have licence to push up with Sam Murphy and Dan Lawlor providing a solid base in front of the defence.
Murphy deserves plenty of credit for his role in breaking up play, keeping it simple with his passes and winning aerial duels.
He was praised by Rayment after the opening-day draw at Romulus and this was a very impressive home league debut for the ex-Peterborough Northern Star youngster.
Murphy has the energy which Rayment was so keen to bring into Spalding’s squad after missing out on a play-off place at the end of last term.
He could prove to be a key man – even if some of his hard work won’t always get full recognition among the stand-out performers who will grab more attention.
Rayment’s call for patience being needed was illustrated when supporters shouted ‘rubbish’ as Walker passed the ball back during the first half.
Surely keeping possession and starting over again is far better than an aimless long ball for Frew to chase?
By that stage Spalding’s fans were demanding to see a second goal but Dynamo were in no mood to make it easy.
The Tulips enjoyed a slice of good fortune to take the lead as Moreman’s 25-yard drive took a deflection and left keeper Joe McCormick wrong-footed.
Frew should have scored and Moreman forced another save but the lead was doubled as Nuttell nodded in Lawlor’s free-kick.
Michael Duggan had to protect the advantage and his clean sheet by denying Tom Maddison and Sam Leggitt while Dynamo skipper Rob Norris lobbed over and flicked a late volley off the top of the crossbar.
Norris was caught offside when he cleared team-mate Steve Hart’s shot off the line in another moment when the Tulips got lucky.
After the second goal went in, a couple of melees led to a few yellow cards but overall it was an entertaining match without that much quality on the ball.
Four points in the first week adds up to a decent start for Spalding as they aim to improve on and off the pitch.
Last term they picked up a half-century of points at the Sir Halley Stewart Field – a home record which was only matched in the division by champions Mickleover Sports. This could be the start of something more special.
4-2-3-1: Duggan 7; Griffiths 7, Walker 7, Spafford 8, Jackson 7; Murphy 8, Lawlor 7; Barlow 6 (sub Waumsley h-t, 7), Millson 7 (sub Nuttell 63 mins, 7), Moreman 7 (sub Rawdon 74 mins); Frew 7. Subs not used: Zuerner, Hussey.
4-2-3-1: McCormick; Dennis, Sibson, Holwell, Meer; D Edwards, Maddison; Mulonga (sub Browne 68 mins), Leggitt, Norris; L Edwards (sub Hart 57 mins). Subs not used: Marriott, Phillips, Shaw.
Moreman (7 mins, 1-0); Nuttell (74 mins, 2-0).
D Edwards (dissent); Nuttell, Maddison, Holwell, Sibson, Griffiths (unsporting behaviour); Waumsley (kicking ball away).
Sam Murphy – the sponsors’ award went to Neal Spafford but the young midfielder deserves plenty of credit as well for a key role in the Tulips’ performance.
Tividale (H) – Saturday.