JOINT Tenbury United boss Nick Stocker expects his side to be challenging for Herefordshire League Premier Division honours come the end of season – anything less will be a disappointment.

The Palmers Meadow side made a winning start to their campaign only to lose out 3-2 to visitors Wellington Rangers at the weekend.

But with games in hand and other sides taking results off each other, Stocker admits he won’t be losing any sleep over Saturday’s defeat.

“We can have no complaints because Wellington were the better side,” he said. “We had a number of key players out and while you need a squad capable of seeing you through the season, the players we had missing would have made a difference.

“Wellington are a big, strong physical side and it’s always a difficult game when you can pick your best side. We had the main spine of the team out with Sam Williams, Mike Foster and Gav Podmore all unavailable.”

Tenbury made an encouraging start with Mark Boucker scoring twice in the opening half-hour to give his side a two-goal cushion only for the visitors to reply just before the interval.

Wellington then added two more in the second half and a missed penalty ten minutes from time meant United finished up empty-handed.

Stocker added: “Although we went 2-0 up I never felt we were in control of the game. They gifted us the goals. Mark Boucker has intercepted a back-pass for the first and then their keeper has dropped one at his feet.

“It might have been different if we’d have gone in to the break without conceding but they pulled a goal back a couple of minutes before half-time and that was the killer for us.

“We played some of our best football at the start of the second half but couldn’t find a way through and then went and missed a penalty with ten minutes to go.”

Tenbury have another tough test on Saturday when they host Kington Town Reserves but Stocker expects to have a full squad to choose from.

“I feel it is going to be a tight league this season with four or five clubs up there,” he added. “We have the best squad we have had in three years so I feel it will be a failure if we’re not among them.

“It’s going to be tough having to play Wellington and Kington back-to-back but at least we’ll have them out of the way early on.”

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Tenbury Town lost 5-0 at home to Ewyas Harold while Orleton Colts were beaten 4-1 by Ledbury Town.

On Saturday, the Colts travel to early leaders Holme Lacy while Town make the trip to Wellington Rangers.