Marcus Law was left “very, very pleased” after Kettering Town produced a solid display to get their Evo-Stik South League Premier Division Central campaign up and running with a victory.
The Poppies claimed a 1-0 success at Hitchin Town with Rhys Hoenes hitting the only goal of the game midway through the first half.
Kettering’s plans for the new season have been hampered with top striker Aaron O’Connor being ruled out with a knee injury while they were also without Marcus Kelly, who is still awaiting international clearance having been at Wrexham in the last campaign.
Nonetheless, boss Law was delighted with a sound defensive performance, an area he was keen to improve on having missed out on promotion last season.
“It’s three points and a clean sheet so I have to be pleased,” the Poppies manager said.
“I was very impressed with our shape and our personnel when it came to the defending.
“It’s only game one and there are 41 more to go but they have set a standard for themselves with that performance from a defensive point of view.
“And it’s not just the defence, the whole group deserves credit. I was very, very pleased and it builds the confidence going forward.
“Obviously the big question was how would we cope with the likes of Mathew Stevens and Rene Howe not being here anymore and then losing Aaron to injury.
“I said that others would need to step up and Rhys was a constant threat and he took the goal very well.
“We did try a couple of things in the first half that didn’t come off for us and we have to learn from that but we got through the game and came out with the right result.
“When we go 1-0 up against teams, they will always throw as much as they can at us and throw numbers forward.
“We have to be able to see games out and on this occasion, we have done it so I am really pleased.
“There were some good individual performances and we played some decent stuff in patches but we have got the result we wanted.”
Law, meanwhile, admitted he was “extremely frustrated” over the length of time it is taking for the club to get the clearance they need for summer signing Kelly to feature in the league.
“We made the application 20 days ago and they have 30 days to do it,” he added.
“He is in a long list but I am sure there would have been players who have moved from Welsh clubs to English clubs in recent days who wouldn’t have had any problems and would have played for their teams this weekend.
“If that’s the case, is it fair play? We know people pull favours, that’s the way the game goes but it is extremely frustrating for us.
“Marcus could have helped us from an attacking point of view but we are just grateful we were able to get through the game without him.”
The Poppies return to action on Tuesday night when they entertain King’s Lynn Town in their first home game of the season at Latimer Park.