Dean Thomas believes teams will be ready to “have a go” at Kettering Town during the Calor League Division One Central campaign.
And that’s why the Poppies manager feels the midweek friendly clash at Barwell and tomorrow’s (Saturday) final pre-season outing at Stamford will prove to be the most important matches in the build-up to the league action.
Kettering were met with a physical contest at Barwell on Tuesday night but stood up well to the hosts and recorded a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Kieren Joseph and Jake Newman.
Their last friendly before the big kick-off at Potters Bar Town next weekend sees them come up against another Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side in the form of the Daniels.
And Thomas is pleased to see his side being put through these tests at this stage of their preparations.
“We wanted to be playing teams from the level just above us at this stage of pre-season and that is why we sorted the games with Barwell and Stamford,” the Kettering manager said.
“I thought we gained a lot from the run-out at Barwell and we played quite well. We are creating chances and I am pleased with the way things have panned out so far.
“It sets it up nicely for Stamford and we will look forward to that.
“There will be teams in our division who will be ready to have a go at us.
“We are Kettering Town and people will see it that we have come down from a higher level in quick time. Every game will be a cup final and every team will raise their game against us.
“We have to make sure we are good enough to kill off their enthusiasm by scoring goals, being disciplined and organised. I think we are getting better and better at that and I think we have improved as time has gone on.”
Brad Piercewright made his return to Kettering official on Thursday night when a agreed a deal for the new campaign, 11 years on from helping the club win the Southern League title under Carl Shutt.
Piercewright has been out with a foot injury but could return for the short trip along the A43 along with Chris Logan and Ash Deeney.
But the Poppies could be without Dave Deeney after he came off with a groin problem at Barwell.