NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: The new season starts how the previous one ended as Soham Town Rangers are seen off by Heybridge Swifts

Player-boss Robbie Mason hit the post in Soham Town Rangers' opening day defeat at Heybridge Swifts.

Player-boss Robbie Mason hit the post in Soham Town Rangers' opening day defeat at Heybridge Swifts. Picture: ANDY BURFORD - Credit: Archant

Soham Town Rangers suffered a losing start to the new Bostik North Division season last Saturday.

The new campaign began how the previous one ended with the Greens going down to defeat at Heybridge Swifts.

They were beaten 2-1 by the Essex outfit in their final 2017/18 fixture. Turn the clock forward four months and they went down 2-0 in their opening outing of this season.

Both goals arrived in the second half with Heybridge hitting the front on the hour before they grabbed a clincher with 11 minutes to go.

It was always going to be a tough start for a Soham side without a number of important players due to injury, unavailability and suspension.

And they were dealt a further blow when striker Marcus Hall was forced off after just 11 minutes.

His replacement, player-boss Robbie Mason, came closest to a first-half breakthrough when firing against a post while Jon Kaye saw an effort saved.

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Summer signing Ryan Auger steered the first meaningful attempt of the second period just wide, but Heybridge made the breakthrough within a minute when Sam Bantick gratefully converted a loose ball after Rangers keeper Josh Pope had initially denied Matthew Price.

Mason was only a whisker away from a leveller when just failing to connect with a low cross from debutant Manuel Ramirez as Soham searched for a leveller.

But their hopes were dashed by a second Heybridge goal as substitute Luke Callander struck with an unstoppable curling shot only a couple of minutes after being introduced from the bench.

The home side had the ball in the net again late on but Evans Kouassi’s effort was ruled out for offside.

Assistant boss Erkan Okay, who was suspended, took positives from game.

He said: “The performance in the first half was very good and the only thing missing was goals.

“We have to take our chances when on top in games and we knew Heybridge would come out stronger in the second half.

“We can’t fault the effort of the lads in difficult circumstances with a lot of players missing.”

Soham have their first home fixture of the campaign this Saturday when entertaining Tilbury, 3pm. Striker Sam Mulready and wideman Callum Russell both return for Soham, but Okay is unavailable.

“It’s our first home game and hopefully we can pick up our first points,” added Okay.

“We’re looking for a reaction after losing last weekend and the same will apply to Tilbury.”

The visitors were thumped 4-0 by AFC Sudbury in their season-opener last weekend.

Rangers then host Uxbridge on Tuesday in the opening round of the Velocity Trophy.