ANDY Stanhope fears his Spalding United side may be playing for third place in the UCL Premier Division this season.
The Tulips supremo had targeted the title after being relegated from Evo-Stik League Division One South, but admits that big-spending duo Long Buckby and King’s Lynn Town may be just too strong.
Both sides boast 100 per cent records in the league, with the Bucks top and the Linnets third in the embryonic standings.
But it was Stanhope’s side who were calling the tune last weekend after an impressive 7-0 drubbing of basement boys Irchester United.
And more of the same could follow on Saturday, with winless Desborough Town the visitors at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field (3pm).
Stanhope said: “You have to wait a few months for all the cup runs to end and the table to even out, but it looks like Buckby and Lynn are in a league of their own.
“That’s to be expected though, they have the biggest budgets. I’d go as far as saying that Buckby are favourites.
“I don’t pay too much attention to the league table at the moment and I’m only really worried about our games.
“But I’d imagine that Holbeach, Deeping, Boston Town, Peterborough Northern Star and S & L Corby will be challenging towards the top too.
“We’re in good form and have a good chance to keep that going this weekend. I know Desborough have been struggling, but they did get a win in the cup last week.”
After failing to win any of their first five games this season, Spalding really found their form last week with two impressive wins and a good draw at Boston Town coming in the space of seven days.
Fans will be fully aware that Tuesday night sees the eagerly-anticipated home derby against Holbeach United (7.45pm) – and Stanhope admits that he wants to go into that game full of confidence.
He added: “Holbeach will be up there come the end of the season and we’ll need to play well against them.
“I’m focused on Desborough, but it’s important that we keep building momentum.”
Stanhope has the same squad that thrashed Irchester at his disposal for the visit of Ar Tarn.
After such a strong showing, high-profile summer recruits Josh Ford, Ryan O’Loughlin and Liam Harrold could again find themselves on the bench.
Spalding supremo “Stan” is also delighted with the impact made by new keeper Nick Conroy and is excited by the partnership being struck up by Greg Smith and Simon Mowbray in attack.
But he may be in the market for a new central defender, with Gary Pawson likely to miss much of the Tulips’ campaign with a lateral knee ligament injury.
The former captain is still very much part of the squad, but is unlikely to play again before having surgery to fix the problem.
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