Pinchbeck United lose United Counties League openers against impressive Loughborough Students side
It might have been the start of a new season - but Pinchbeck United were left with a sense of déjà vu after their United Counties League opener against Loughborough Students on Saturday.
The Knights were beaten 2-0 by their highly-rated visitors in the Premier Division North match at the Sir Halley Stewart ground.
It was the same scoreline that Pinchbeck had been beaten by Loughborough in their two meetings last season where again the Knights gave their all against a side expected to challenge for league honours.
Boss Lewis Thorogood said: "Loughborough are just a machine with their speed, passing and strength in the right areas.
"They are just a well-drilled and well-organised side who are another level up. They would take apart most step four sides.
"Our boys worked really hard though and I couldn't fault the work-rate or coverage to defend to try to stop them coming forward.
"The only slight disappointment was that we weren't as effective going forward as we had been during pre-season.
"It was always going to be a tough game and containment was the key because we're not at Loughborough's level yet."
Pinchbeck had gone into the match without the services of the experienced Neal Spafford and Dan Worthington and also suffered a first half setback when Avelino Vieira was forced off with a calf injury.
However, they kept their visitors at bay for the majority of the first half after Finlay Brennan had rattled the Pinchbeck crossbar inside the opening 15 minutes.
Ethan O'Toole forced a fingertip save from home goalkeeper Alex Smith before Pinchbeck created the best chance of the game.
Elliot Foster and Andre Williams linked up well with the latter poised to convert only to be denied by a last-ditch defensive block.
The Student side then hit back and their pressure was rewarded on the stroke of half-time when Brennan swung over a superb cross from the right which presented O'Toole with an easy tap-in to give Loughborough the lead at the interval.
Smith saved well from Anthony Lynn after the break before the Students doubled their advantage just past the hour mark as Matty Bowman fired home after a scramble in the home box to put the contest beyond Pinchbeck.
Knights: Smith, Simpson, Millar, Parsons, Wiles, Robson, Williams, Stevens, Vieira, Johnson, Foster. Subs used: Burdass, Melson, Nuttell, Peasgood. Not used: Wilkinson (GK).