Here we go again...
After only two league games, there is absolutely no doubt that Spalding United look ready to fight all the way for promotion.
If the campaign is going to turn into another series of scrappy, horrible battles then the Tulips are right up for it!
Last season’s play-off final defeat has simply made them even more determined to go one better this time.
Of course, they have to cope with the loss of captain Nathan Stainfield and top scorer Bradley Wells.
But the early signs are positive – even if it’s still not pretty to watch.
Spalding’s men of steel were too strong on Tuesday for Corby Town’s Steelmen.
Having followed up on the impressive opening-day win at Stocksbridge Park Steels, that’s a maximum return against two teams who have been tipped to challenge for promotion.
The Tulips are already off to a better start than the first couple of games last term.
Gary King and Matt Varley got the goals either side of the break to put Spalding in control against Corby.
Although the Tulips were hanging on at the end – and they needed a brilliant save by Michael Duggan – victory was fully deserved.
They were comfortable until substitute Ollie Brown-Hill’s deflected free-kick set up a frantic finish.
When it comes down to putting your body in the way and making blocks, Spalding have plenty of candidates who will do that and make the difference between winning or dropping points.
Although Jamie McGhee and Paul Walker had penalty appeals rejected, the early exchanges were poor.
Then, out of nothing, Jenk Acar raced past Jason Lee and the ball bounced up onto Phil Trainer’s hand.
Referee Kieron Salmons pointed to the spot and Acar stepped up, only to continue the tale of missed penalties from last season.
Diving to his left, 47-year-old Paul Bastock pulled off a save – but the rebound broke for King to score against one of his former clubs.
Two minutes after the interval, Lee Beeson’s corner was met by Varley with a far-post header to make it 2-0.
Duggan tipped over Jack McGovern’s diving header and the ex-Spalding man wasted another chance.
As the Steelmen pushed forward and made changes, Brown-Hill offered hope of a fightback.
Jonny Lockie could have made the points safe but the Tulips had to dig deep until the final whistle.
After four minutes of stoppage-time, Duggan got down to deny Brown-Hilland McGovern fired across the six-yard box. In the end, it was close – but not overall.
4-4-2: Duggan 8; Walker 8, Spafford 8, Humble 8, Jackson 8; Beeson 7, Whitehead 8, Varley 8, McGhee 7 (sub Fixter 68 mins, 7); King 7 (sub Lockie 73 mins), Acar 7 (sub Harris 82 mins). Sub not used: Smith.
4-4-2: Bastock; Smith, Miller, Lee, Kinniburgh (sub Anton 66 mins); Kennedy (sub Brown-Hill 61 mins), Trainer, Leslie (sub Marshall 61 mins), Crawford; McGovern, Mulready. Subs not used: Brennan, Bell.
King (39 mins, 1-0); Varley (47 mins, 2-0); Brown-Hill (76 mins, 2-1).
Beeson (persistent fouls); Mulready (foul); Fixter (unsporting behaviour).
Matt Varley – excellent effort.
Wisbech Town (A) – Emirates FA Cup preliminary round, Saturday.