Promoted Moors go across the Pennines to play Padiham, who are starting their second season in the Evo-Stik League after moving up from the North West Counties League.
“Padiham might have finished in the bottom six of the Evo-Stik League last season, but they certainly wouldn’t finish in the Northern League bottom six,” said Ainsley. “It would be stupid to write them off, and at this moment, I’ll be happy with a point from today’s game.
“It’s going to be a really, really tough game –every game this season is going to be hard. When we were in the Northern League, we had a pretty good idea of what the opposing line up would be because we knew all the players. But in this league, we don’t have that luxury, which is why I went to watch Padiham in midweek.
“We’re approaching this game with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation, but we’re on more of an even keel now.
“There aren’t many expectations. Last season, everyone expected us to win every game in the Northern League, and it was a case of managing expectations and keeping everyone’s feet on the floor.
“Now, we’re no longer the big fish in a little pond. Other clubs, such as Darlington and Salford, have higher expectations than us. The pressure is off us now to a large extent.”
Ainsley has a big squad of players to choose from today, and he’ll decide on his starting line up once he’s checked a video of Padiham in action against Darlington last season.
“From my point of view, my starting line up in every game this season will be a case of horses for courses, depending on opposing teams. In the Northern League we might have kept the same team and formation week after week, but I’ll change it accordingly for games in this league.”
Striker Gavin Cogdon is definitely missing today because he’s at a wedding, while midfielder Shane Henry is missing because of a knee injury. New signing Craig Lynch, who was at Sunderland last season, is added to the squad.
It’s the second time that Moors have been in this league, the first was as United in the 1993-94 season, when they went straight through the division under Mattie Pearson after winning promotion from the Northern Counties East League.