Spalding United preview: Rayment aims for improvement

Sam Murphy
Sam Murphy
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Spalding United head back to Sutton Coldfield where they started and finished last season.

The Tulips kicked off with a 2-0 defeat at Coles Lane and missed out on a play-off place when they lost 3-0 away to the ground’s tenants Romulus.

But manager Pat Rayment is hopeful of coming home with a better result when the Evo-Stik League First Division South campaign begins on Saturday.

He said: “I’m happier with the squad we’ve currently got in place.

“We had more experienced players when we went to Sutton Coldfield at the start of last season and finished there on the same pitch.

“Now we have a lot more pace and energy plus better footballers.

“We did well on the back of having those established players but ultimately, for some reason which I still can’t fathom out, they looked like they ran out of legs and lost the desire to go up.

“We want to improve on what we did last season.

“This is a strong division but we are not one of the new teams so that takes a bit of pressure off us.

“Last year we had a top-three budget but I don’t think we are even in the top five now. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything.

“I expect Stafford Rangers to be the benchmark, though, with a big, physical side who will be a real unit which you need to break down.”

While Stafford are rated as the bookmakers’ favourites for automatic promotion, Spalding are listed at joint-eight.

Romulus are among the 33/1 outsiders despite their brilliant record at the end of last season.

Rayment admits that the absence of midfielder Sam Murphy is “a big blow” for the opening game of the new season.

The former Peterborough Northern Star man has not recovered from a knock to his ankle during last week’s win at Deeping Rangers.

However, Murphy may be available for the first home game of the season against Loughborough Dynamo on Tuesday night.

Will Rawdon must serve a one-match ban on Saturday carried over from last season at Grantham Town.