Spalding United and Holbeach United both made winning starts to the new UCL Premier Division season on Saturday, but Deeping Rangers were handed a home reverse by much-fancied AFC Rushden and Diamonds.
Starting at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, Spalding shook off a sloppy first half to dispatch promoted Northampton Sileby Rangers 3-1.
Tony Batterbsy and Sam Mullarkey both had early chances saved for the Tulips, before the hosts were stunned by an impressive opener from Dan Pritchard (27). The winger took down a crossfield pass on his chest and hammered a half-volley past the helpless Michael Duggan.
Jake Gibson almost levelled just before the break when he blasted just wide, as Pat Rayment’s men began to look frustrated.
But two goals in as many changed that just before the hour, as Lee Canoville (57) and Jake Gibson (59) turned the game on its head.
Captain Canoville fired the leveller, racing forward from right back and smashing low into the near corner from 18 yards.
There was even time for Lee Beeson to blaze over from close-range before Gibson rifled the Tulips ahead. The left sider fired home a fierce rebound after Jonny Allen’s header was cleared off the line.
Battersby, named man-of-the-match by the match sponsor Vic Couzens, then headed home number three from a Beeson corner on 73 minutes to wrap up the points for title hopefuls.
Over at Carter’s Park, champions Holbeach got their title defence under way with a 3-2 victory over Harborough Town.
Glen Maddison’s side led 2-0 at the interval thanks to debut goals from Liam Tunstall and new signing Julian Joachim, but the vistors halved the deficit immediately after the restart.
Another debutant, Curt Yeatman, extended the Tigers’ lead with a stunning strike before Harborough set up a grandstand finish with a late second.
There was also five goals at Outgang Road, but hosts Deeping were edged out 3-2 by hotly-tipped Premier Division newboys Diamonds.
Jack Wisniewski put Rushden ahead early on, only for Craig Parker to mark his competitive Deeping debut with a leveller.
Two Diamonds goals from Alfie Taylor and Fazel Koriya made it 3-1 to the visitors, but a last-gasp Matt Heron header did give Rangers a sniff of a point in the dying seconds.
Down in Division One, Bourne Town were held to a 1-1 draw in their Division One opener with Thrapston Town at the Abbey Lawn.
In the Peterborough and District League, Pinchbeck United took the derby spoils as they saw off Moulton Harrox 2-1 at Knight Street in the President Premier Shield. Ollie Gedney and Jonny Butler bagged the goals for United.
Crowland Town, meanwhile, got their Premier Division season off to a solid start by drawing 2-2 with Stilton at Snowden Field.
Omar Joof’s first game as boss of Holbeach United Reserves ended in a 3-0 Chairman Champion Shield win at Ryhall United, while in the same competition Long Sutton Athletic saw off ICA Sports Reserves 2-0 at London Road.
Also in the Chairman Champion Shield, Moulton Harrox Reserves were thrashed 9-2 at Ketton and Sutton Bridge United went down 4-1 at home to Peterborough Sports Reserves.
More football in Tuesday’s Lincolnshire Free Press.
• UCL Premier Division: Boston Town 1 Cogenhoe United 3; Deeping Rangers 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3; Desborough Town 1 Huntingdon Town 1; Holbeach United 3 Harborough Town 2; Long Buckby 3 AFC Kempston Rovers 3; Peterborough Northern Star 3 Newport Pagnell Town 0; Spalding United 3 Northampton Sileby Rangers 1; Wellingborough Town 1 Wisbech Town 3; Yaxley 4 Stewarts & Lloyds Corby 1.
• UCL Division One: Blackstones 0 Potton United 3; Bourne Town 1 Thrapston Town 1; Buckingham Town 0 Peterborough Sports 2; Burton Park Wanderers 3 Olney Town 1; Eynesbury Rovers 3 Northampton Spencer 2; Harrowby United 2 Irchester United 2; Lutterworth Athletic 2 Wellingborough Whitworth 0; Raunds Town 1 St Neots Town Saints 1; Rothwell Corinthians 0 Oadby Town 2; Rushden & Higham United 2 Northampton ON Chenecks 2.
• Peterborough & District League: Premier Division: Crowland Town 2 Stilton Utd 2.
• President Premier Shield: Netherton United 9 Whittlesey Blue Star 0; Oakham United 1 Coates Athletic 2 (AET); Peterborough ICA Sports 2 Ramsey Town 1; Pinchbeck United 2 Moulton Harrox 1; Sawtry 1 King’s Lynn Town Reserves 2.
• Chairman Champion Shield: Farcet United 2 Warboys Town 1; Ketton 9 Moulton Harrox Reserves 2; Kings Cliffe United 6 Stamford Belvedere 1; Langtoft United 3 Thorney 1; Long Sutton Athletic 2 Peterborough ICA Sports Reserves 0; Netherton United Reserves 1 AFC Stanground 2; Ryhall United 0 Holbeach United Reserves 3; Sutton Bridge United 1 Peterborough Sport Parkway Reserves 4.
• PFA Jack Hogg Charity Shield (Wednesday night): Moulton Harrox 2 Netherton Utd 4.