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FOOTBALL: Clubs ready for return to action

Chris Rawlinson
Chris Rawlinson

The pre-season programme steps up this weekend.

Spalding United will kick off their series of friendlies with a trip to Grimsby Borough.

Tulips manager Chris Rawlinson said: "I know they had a fixture called off at Sleaford Town in midweek but I've already checked our game will go ahead on Saturday.

"We're looking forward to it. The lads are ready to play after three weeks of training.

"Grimsby Borough lost in the play-off final last season so they will give us a good test."

George Couzens
George Couzens

George Couzens - who was brought into the senior squad last season after impressive displays for the under-21s - appears to be on his way back to Grantham Town or Sleaford.

Rawlinson explained: "He called me to ask how much football he would get here next season.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a clean slate for everyone.

"I thought he would be going back to play for Sleaford every week so it was a shock to see he was on Grantham's team sheet."

Jenk Acar
Jenk Acar

Jenk Acar has already left the Tulips to join Grantham.

Rawlinson said: "He had agreed to stay here but this is an opportunity to play at a higher level."

Former Lincoln City academy striker Luke White has signed for Spalding following a loan spell.

Rawlinson said: "He fits the bill when we are looking to develop young players, although I can't promise anyone will play every week.

"He complements our squad with two experienced centre-forwards and two 18-year-olds."

Spalding's development squad will also play at Long Eaton on Saturday.

Seb Hayes
Seb Hayes

Holbeach United’s first warm-up match is away to Skegness Town.

Boss Seb Hayes said: “We’re really looking forward to it.

“Skegness have been promoted and, under new management, they will give us a hard game.

“It’s an absolutely brilliant set-up so this is a good start to pre-season.

“I’ve told the lads that they are playing for their shirts because those who have done well in training will start the first game.

“We’ll treat this like a league game with a squad of around 15 so everyone will get a good run-out.”

Deeping Rangers - who head to March Town on Saturday - were drawn at home to Holbeach in the Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round.

Hayes added: “My immediate thought was that Jonny Clay and Tom Smith will go back to face their former club in our first local derby of the season.

“We’ve taken two of their best players but we’re still expecting to face a very strong side at Deeping.

“We know the winners will earn even more money in the next round at home to AFC Rushden & Diamonds in front of a big crowd.”

Ian Dunn and assistant Allan Ross
Ian Dunn and assistant Allan Ross

Meanwhile, newly-promoted Pinchbeck United will make the trip to Rushden & Higham United on Saturday.

Player-boss Ian Dunn said: “They invited us over after we beat them last season and we know the pitch will be in superb condition.

“We will test ourselves with a mixture of opposition at different levels.

“We’ve come a long way in a short space of time but we look ready for the UCL Premier Division. We are organised and disciplined with a style of play where we can dictate the tempo.

“We have come back fitter and looking like a team which can compete at this level.

“We won’t get carried away but we can cause problems for anyone next season. We’ve made a good start to pre-season and we’re looking to improve again on Saturday.”

The Knights beat Thorney 8-0 at Knight Street on Monday with goals from Ollie Maltby (4), Jordan Nuttell (2), Ash Murrell and Fraser Bayliss.

Dunn added: “Everything we worked on during training was put into practice.

“It was really good to watch.

“The new lads blended in well and we looked dangerous every time we got into their half.

“We mixed it up with long balls and short passes. We’ve added quality going forward and we look comfortable on the ball.

“I felt sorry for Thorney in a way because we bombarded them with pace, movement and quality on the ball.”

Ollie Maltby
Ollie Maltby

Maltby struck four times - just 48 hours after becoming a father.

Dunn said: “We kept in touch but he only missed a couple of training sessions when Nikki was heavily pregnant.

“Ollie wanted to play 90 minutes and he looked very sharp, scoring three of those goals inside the six-yard box.

“Quite often last season he had a lone role up front. Now he can play off Jordan if we choose a slightly different system.”

Moulton Harrox take on Swineshead Institute at Broad Lane on Friday (7.15pm).

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