Formartine United player-boss Paul Lawson says his side can’t wait to get its Highland League season started at North Lodge Park tomorrow.
Lawson is on the brink of his first full term in charge of the Pitmedden side having taken over from Kris Hunter in the first half of the last campaign.
What a debut season in management it was, with a second-placed league finish and two cups – the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup and the Highland League Cup.
Nairn County are first up.
Lawson said: “After a few friendlies you’re just itching to get back into the competitive stuff.
“In training on Wednesday the boys were buzzing and ready to go. I’ve been pleased with everyone and they’ve all come back looking good and raring to go.
“Roll on tomorrow. Ideally you want a home game to start with. Our pitch is looking good, which is a bonus as well.
“I don’t think there’s a lot out there (nice pitches) because the weather’s been so good, it’s been tough. But Nairn will enjoy coming down and playing on it too, it’s going to be a difficult game.
“If you could decide you’d want a home game to start and that’s what we’ve got.
“It’s important we get off to a good start if we have any aspirations about winning the title.”
United beat the Wee County twice last term, 5-0 at home and 2-1 away.
Over the summer, Lawson has strengthened by adding winger Ryan Stott from Cove Rangers, as well as former Montrose striker Gary Fraser.
Both played a part in Formartine’s final pre-season game – a 6-1 victory over Ross County Under-20s.
Lawson said: “Ryan Stott scored which was great for him. Gary Fraser got 45 minutes as well which was pleasing.
“I think things came together against Ross County, which gives us a bonus going into the season.
“We’ve looked at a couple of things, played some different shapes to try it out.
“Not just because of the new boys, but because of the boys we’ve already got.We had a good year last year, so you don’t want to become predictable.
“It’s important you’ve got a few things in the locker and players who can play a lot of different positions.
“That gives you the versatility when needs be.”
Scott Henry is out with a long-term injury, Wayne Mackintosh has a groin problem and Jevan Anderson is suspended after an end of season red card, but has an ankle injury anyway.
Elsewhere, Fraserburgh get their campaign under way against Strathspey Thistle at Bellslea, Brora Rangers welcome Wick Academy, Lossiemouth visit Deveronvale and Turriff United travel to Huntly.
Keith will welcome Forres Mechanics, while Rothes play Fort William at Mackessack Park.
Cove Rangers home clash with Clachnacuddin is postponed because of their Betfred Cup involvement, with both sides starting their league seasons next weekend.