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New Oakham United boss Graeme Archer is beaten in first match in charge against Netherton United

New Oakham United boss Graeme Archer was able to take plenty of encouragement from his side's display despite being handed a 'baptism of fire' on his managerial bow at the Rutland club.

Oakham went down to a 3-1 away defeat at second-placed Netherton United in Saturday's Peterborough League Premier Division clash.

It was the first time Archer had seen his side in competitive action following back-to-back postponements since his appointment last month against a Netherton team who he feels will go on and win the league title.

Kieran Burley was on target for Oakham. (21387908)
Kieran Burley was on target for Oakham. (21387908)

Archer said: "Considering we had five or six players unavailable and I'm still getting to know the players, we more than matched Netherton in the game.

"I've got no complaints about the result because I would be very surprised if Netherton don't go on and win the league.

"They could comfortably compete at the next level. There's also an art to playing on their 3G pitch which they do very well so it was a baptism of fire for us.

"They are the benchmark in this league, but we gave it everything. I couldn't have asked for more in terms of the work-rate and attitude which was fantastic."

Oakham handed a first start to new signing Reece Darby while Marcus Francis stepped up from the reserves and enjoyed an excellent debut.

Skipper James North was moved to centre-back and had a fine game alongside Ash Chamberlain.

After a goalless opening 15 minutes, Netherton opened the scoring through Tom Randall and then doubled their advantage before the break with a Richie Baines goal.

Zack Fisher fired home a third for the hosts in the second half before Kieran Burley bagged a goal back for Oakham.

Archer added: "We need to work on our fitness to play the system which I want, but overall I was pleased.

"It will take time, but there were positives on Saturday and hopefully we will have more options available for this weekend."

Oakham are back at Lands' End Meadow on Saturday when they entertain Parson Drove in the Premier Division.

Experienced United Counties League campaigner Scott Munton - who played for Archer at Desborough - is expected to be in contention to make his Oakham debut along with fellow new recruits Sean Archer and Jayden Walker.

Oakham: Barker, Gooding, Bates (Robertson), Chamberlain, North, Andre, Burley, Darby (Lopes), Francis, Mastin, Lambie.

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