Peterborough Sports could hardly have scripted their grand entrance into Step 4 football any better.
A historic footballing occasion at PSL today (August 12) also proved to be a memorable one as the city team thumped Kidsgrove Athletic 3-0 in their Evo-Stik League Division One South opener.
Mark Jones’ early breakthrough put Sports on top and two further goals in the opening 11 minutes of the second period - from Jones and Lewis Webb - clinched a victory which was every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggests.
An opening fixture which went perfectly to plan was in stark contrast to a summer that has been anything but smooth for Sports. The gaggle of high-quality players watching this curtain-raiser among a pleasing crowd of 192 was testament to that.
Number one Lewis Moat, centre backs Richard Jones and Josh Sanders, and flying wideman Jordan MacLeod are all injury victims, while utility man Dan Banister was away.
But Sports didn’t look like a team with so many influential men missing. They didn’t look like one boasting five debutants either for that matter as goalkeeper Aaron Butcher, defenders Ash Robinson, Daniel Moyes and David Femiola, and midfield workhorse Rogan McGeorge, all pulled on a Sports shirt for the first time.
“It was a perfect result in our first-ever game at this level,” said delighted boss Jimmy Dean. “People came out to support us and we produced a good performance to get off to a winning start.
“Pre-season has been difficult due to the injuries we’ve picked up and the fact new players came in late, so there is still plenty of room for improvement - especially when we start getting key men back.
“Kidsgrove didn’t offer a lot and I would expect us to face plenty of tougher challenges this season, but there is a lot to be positive about and we can go forward in good heart.”
While Sports might have risen to Step 4 for the first time, they boast a front three of Jones, Josh Moreman and Avelino Vieira who have all played two levels higher in the past.
That quality often showed while the defence of a Kidsgrove side, who looked as if they had read the John Beck training manual en route, also inflicted plenty of damage upon themselves.
The poor pass that Jones seized upon in the eighth minute was the first example of that and when his initial shot was well saved, he was quickest to the loose ball, which he steered in from the tightest of angles.
Only an alert assistant referee denied Avelino Vieira a second goal (after another effort, from Moreman, had been spilled) while Jones might done better with a close-range header.
But any fears that Sports might pay for failing to turn their first-half dominance into further goals were short-lived.
The second period was barely 20 seconds old when Vieira intercepted another suicidal pass from the visitors and burst into the box. His effort was kept out but Jones was on hand to guide the follow-up past a couple of covering defenders.
And Kidsgrove’s defensive frailties were again exposed 10 minutes later when a diagonal Vieira delivery sparked a mix-up between the visiting goalkeeper and one of his defenders. The end result was Webb nipping in between the dithering duo to gratefully roll the ball into a gaping net.
Jones missed the chance to complete an opening day hat-trick when firing a low Moreman cross wide before both of those players were taken out of the action - the latter with a bout of cramp.
Substitutes Jamie Graham and Stuart Eason were both denied further goals by fine saves in the same Sports counter-attack, while a couple of routine Butcher stops and one excellent Moyes clearance ensured their defence wasn’t breached.
Sports are back in action on Wednesday (August 16) when they go to Lincoln United.
Spalding also made a successful start to the season at Division One South level as goals from Cenk Acar and Gary King earned a 2-0 victory at Stocksbridge Park Steels, the team The Tulips beat in the play-off semi-final last season.
Stamford were involved in a goalless draw at Market Overton.
Division One South: Market Drayton Town 0, Stamford 0; Peterborough Sports 3 (M. Jones 2, Webb), Kidsgrove Athletic 0; Stocksbridge Park Steels 0, Spalding 2 (Acar, King).