Spennymoor Town manager Jason Ainsley will take his side into tomorrow’s Ebac Northern League first division clash against Ashington at the Brewery Field admitting the Colliers are one of the last clubs he would have wanted to face on the opening day of the season.
And Ainsley, who masterminded the Moors march to FA Carlsberg Vase glory last season, had tipped Ashington to be genuine title contenders.
He said: “I know that we face a very tough and tight game on Saturday, because even when Ashington came to us towards the end of last season and had nothing to play for, they fought hard and got a draw.
“In Gary Middleton they have a good manager and excellent players, and they would be one of the last clubs I would want to meet on opening day.”
Ainsley’s Moors recorded a 2-1 victory over Tunbridge Wells at Wembley in May to win the FA Vase.
And this rounded off a campaign which saw them finish runners-up to Darlington 1883 in the league and lift the League Cup.
They go into the 2013-14 season as title favourites following Darlington’s promotion, but Ainsley is well aware of the quality of the Ashington squad.
He added: “Glen Taylor joined them during last term and Michael Laws in the close season – both from ourselves – and they will be great acquisitions to a squad which has been strengthened and got stability.
“In Gary (Middleton) they have also got experience which will stand them in good stead, and I think they will be real title contenders and be up with five or six of us at the top.”
Ainsley, who is hoping his outfit can take their pre-season form into Saturday’s 3pm clash, has to reckon without new signing from Whitley Bay Lee Kerr through suspension, whilst Joe Walton and Chay Liddle are both unavailable.
“You win no trophies on the first day,” he said.
“In past seasons we have drawn against Consett and lost to Tow Law in our opening fixture – and still gone on to win the league.”