PAT Rayment finally takes charge of his first home game as Spalding United boss on Saturday (3pm) – but admits his side will have their hands full.
The Tulips play host to a Newport Pagnell outfit that have been a model of consistency in the UCL Premier Division over the past few years, finishing in the top six in each of the past three seasons.
But, although Rayment reckons the Swans are the blueprint for any side at this level to follow, his plans for Spalding are much bigger.
With the weather wiping out the Tulips’ past two fixtures, the former Peterborough United professional has been busy speaking to potential transfer targets.
Rayment has been hugely encouraged by the responses he’s received – and told the Spalding Guardian he wants Spalding to be “up in lights” next season.
He said: “The break hasn’t been ideal, but we’ve got a young team and often this kind of thing can do you good. I expect a show.
“When I was a player, I always looked forward to getting back on the pitch after this kind of disruption.
“Obviously Newport Pagnell is a tricky game to come back to. They’re perhaps the benchmark at this level, they have a similar team year in, year out, and are always competing for a top six finish.
“They may not play the kind of football that appeals to everyone, but you can’t argue with their methods. It’s a results-based business.
“We have to look to do better at this club, though. I’ve spoken to a number of high-profile players and sold them the vision of myself and the committee.
“So far the response has been encouraging and next season is going to be a big one. I expect Spalding to be up in lights with the plans we have in place.”
While Spalding fans will be buoyed by Rayment’s positive outlook, they’d be forgiven for feeling they’ve heard it all before.
All of the noises coming from the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field in pre-season pointed to a title tilt, following their relegation from the Evo-Stik League.
But Rayment understands the scepticism – and has promised a new beginning at the club.
“Spalding need a fresh start, a new beginning,” added the ex-Deeping Rangers boss. “This is not meant as a dig at anyone who has been here in the past, but things haven’t been done the way I’d like.
“It needs a fresh outlook and I’m excited by the future.”
One player Rayment would like in Spalding’s future is Jake Thompson.
The combative midfielder has been a regular for the Tulips this season, but is struggling with travel arrangements and has fallen away from the first team picture.
Although it looks unlikely he’ll return to the fold, Rayment has not given up hope of persuading him to come back. His role in the side could go to new Sleaford Town recruit Simon Bolland, who is expected to make his bow on Saturday.
The Tulips should have a fully-fit squad to chose from.
• Follow @LFPSport on Twitter for live updates from Saturday’s game between Spalding and Newport Pagnell.
Alternatively, visit www.spaldingtoday.co.uk after 6pm on a Saturday for a round-up of all the weekend’s football action.