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Pinchbeck United start their new United Counties League Premier Division North season

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Pinchbeck United boss Lewis Thorogood insists he wants to be looking upwards and not over his shoulder in this season's United Counties League campaign.

The Knights kick-off their Premier Division North season on Saturday with a tough home test against Loughborough Students at the Sir Halley Stewart ground.

Their highly-rated visitors finished last season in fourth place while the Knights needed a reprieve from relegation to preserve their step five status after ending the season second-from-bottom of the table.

Knights boss Lewis Thorogood and assistant Mark Melson. (58299303)
Knights boss Lewis Thorogood and assistant Mark Melson. (58299303)

Although staying up will again be the first target for the Knights this term, Thorogood feels his side are better equipped for the challenges ahead.

He said: "I don't really have any specific aims and I'm not going to set goals or aspirations.

"Baring in mind though, we are lucky to still be where we are and we're always tagged as a village club who play step five football then there is an argument to say that, as long as you don't get relegated, it's a good season.

"But I feel that we have prepared better than that and I want us to win the race to be mathmatically safe as soon as possible. I want to be looking upwards this season and not over my shoulder."

Pinchbeck were beaten by two goals in both their meetings with Saturday's visitors last season and Thorogood is again expecting the Students to be among the leading lights this campaign.

He added: "It's a huge test against probably one of the top three or four sides but all we can do is work our hardest, try to get something out of every game and I genuinely believe there is a renewed belief and positivity around the club at the moment.

Avelino Vieira
Avelino Vieira

"Everyone will be finding their feet in the first couple of weeks and starting to get into a rhythm so it will be completely unfair to judge anyone on the first six games. We are all getting players back from holiday and some are going on holiday.

"I think we have to approach Saturday, for example, with absolutely no fear. Everybody starts on zero points and Loughborough will be no further ahead in the table going into the game than we are.

"As far as I'm concerned, we have to forget what happened last season. It's all square so let's go and give it a good go."

The Knights have pulled off a signing coup ahead of the start of the season after adding defender Josh Simpson to their ranks following the recent expiration of his professional contract with League One side Lincoln City.

Simpson has been on trial with League Two side Harrogate recently but narrowly missed out on winning a deal with the Yorkshire club.

He started the early stages of his career as a youngster with Boston United where he got to know the Knights management team of Thorogood and Mark Melson who have remained in close contact.

Josh Simpson
Josh Simpson

With Simpson needing regular first team football in the hope of moving back up the ranks, boss Thorogood felt his arrival at the Premier Division North club suited both parties.

He explained: "Josh is a very strong and combative defender and has an abnormal turn of pace so it gives us even more solidity at the back.

"He was around Lincoln's first team last season and has just completed a three-week trial at Harrogate where he just missed out on a professional contract.

"There are Football League clubs which are sniffing around after him, but he wants to play football at the minute.

"His aspirations are to get a professional deal somewhere so, if we can make the most of him and get as much out of him as possible before a bigger club picks him up, then great.

"He recognises and can see that we're right on the cusp of the start of the season and needs to be playing football regularly otherwise he won't get those opportunities.

Andre Williams
Andre Williams

"Mark Melson (assistant manager) and I have known him for a very long time and have kept in contact.

"He now has an opportunity to get his head down and play in a run of games because there is no question about him getting picked up again."

Simpson is one of several new signings the Knights have made ahead of Saturday's home league opener against Loughborough Students.

Defender Ellis Perry-Burdett - who is part of the Chesterfield youth set-up - has joined the Knights and will be part of the squad once he recovers from a hamstring injury picked up in pre-season.

Niall Parsons has returned to the club after spells with Sleaford Town and Newark Town while Boston United youth teamer Jake Henderson has also joined the Knights' ranks.

Defensive midfielder Kieran Wiles - who was with Sleaford last season - and former Holbeach defender Will Nuttell complete the new additions with the bulk of last season's squad staying with the Knights.

Neal Spafford
Neal Spafford

They will also have striker Avelino Vieira permanently in their squad for the coming campaign after he made a handful of appearances on loan last season while dual registered with Wisbech Town.

His experience will complement that of goalkeeper Alex Smith plus defenders Neal Spafford and Dan Worthington who are remaining at the club.

Andre Williams and Harry Peasgood have also re-signed along with the Boston United Academy contingent of Elliot Foster, Ben Johnson, Joe Melson, Zane Millar, Nathan Stevens, Ben Robson, Owen Sheriff and Macca Burdass, who was with both Boston Town and Holbeach last season.

Defender Jack Fixter has departed to join Premier Division North rivals Skegness Town.

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