Oakham United lost both their pre-season games in the last week but considering the quality of opposition they have faced the club’s management are taking positives from the performances.
Oakham, who have been promoted into the UCL Division One this season for the first time, went down 3-2 to UCL Premier Division outfit Oadby Town on Saturday and then lost 4-1 to Evo-Stik First Division South side Spalding United on Tuesday.
United assistant manager Andy Bailey said after the Spalding defeat: “There were far more positives than negatives, for a side who are two leagues above us and were pushing to go up last season, we feel we gave a really good account of ourselves.
“In the second half we conceded just one goal which was a result of tired legs and tired minds.
“The lads did really well. They are a bit down about the result but we have got to get used to not winning every game like we did last season.
“We purposely factored in sides above our level because if we progress in the FA Vase in September then we will meet sides like this. We learnt a lot from it.”
Josh Moreman opened the scoring for Spalding in the 13th minute, drilling the ball into the net from about 10 yards out after it fell to him in the box.
However Oakham responded instantly, scoring just a minute later through new signing Ash Civil who was playing in a more advanced position against Spalding.
He finished a move created by good play from young winger Sven Hart, who beat his marker and crossed the ball into the centre for Civil to finish.
Ironically it was an Oakham-based player who was keeping The Tractor Boys at bay, Michael Duggan in the Spalding net denied Civil a second and saved a brilliant 25 yard free-kick from Stu Lambie.
However Spalding were on top and in the 27th minute Neal Spafford scored a free header from a corner to give the higher-league opposition the lead.
Just before the break the Oakham defence lost track of Michael Frew who scored at the second time of asking after keeper Simon Dalton had saved his first headed effort.
The final goal was caused by a miss-judgement by Oakham defender Marcus Baines who messed up an interception giving Tom Waumsley room to slot home.
However against a nearly full-strength Spalding side 4-1 is not a disgraceful scoreline. Down the road in Stamford the Daniels were thrashing Blackstones 7-0 in a match with a similar gap between the sides.
Looking back on Saturday Bailey said his side “battered” Oadby during the second half of their 3-2 lose and were leading until late in the game when a raft of changes and some tired legs saw them concede two goals to lose the game. Oadby opened the scoring in just the fourth minute but Hart equalised 10 minutes before the break.
In the second half only a brilliant save by the visiting keeper kept Lewis Leckie from scoring and Richard Nelson crashed a shot against the bar.
Adam Rothery finally gave The Tractor Boys the lead in the 69th minute but Town scored twice late on to take the spoils.
Bailey said: “It cost us not finishing our chances, but that is nothing to be taken away from the lads, we preformed really well against a side from the league above who are aiming to finish in the top ten of the UCL Premier Division.”
Away from the pre-season action the club Bailey said the return of key midfielder Robbie Pearce to training is a huge boost to the side.
He described it as like having a new signing at the club. Pearce is only running at the moment without the ball but should be ready for action shortly after the start of the season.
Bailey said: “It’s great not just for his quality on the pitch put because he is a big part of the squad, well respected by the lads.”
He added that the return of a fit Richard Nelson has also strengthened the side significantly.
Next up for Oakham is Peterborough Northern Star on Saturday, 3pm ko.