The champions started the defence of their title looking for a win on a ground they were still waiting to taste a league victory on since their re-formation in 2011.
The United included four debutants in their starting line up. Last seasons Lincolnshire League Representative Side keeper Ben Smith joined former Louth Town players Andy Appleby and Jamie Raynor in committing their futures to the club last week, which is a massive coup for the club.
Nathan Wetton who recently returned from a scholarship in America was also delighted to commit to his home town club for the season.
The strong wind blowing in Hykeham’s favour made the opening period very scrappy with neither team really able to get control of the game. The contrast in styles between the two teams was evident from the outset as Hykeham looked to launch the ball forward at every opportunity while United tried to pass their way through a clearly motivated home side.
After 25 minutes of play neither goalkeeper had really been tested but after a tactical change by the United management, the champions began to take hold of the game and began to carve out some chances.
First, Jordan Smith was brilliantly played through by Reeson and his stinging shot was turned onto the post by home keeper James Cooper for a corner. The next action came when Luke Rayner-Mistry drove at the home defence before cutting inside and shooting forcing another save from Cooper. Hykeham replied at the other end when Sullivans shot was saved low down by Ben Smith but in a quick counter attack United again broke through the Hykeham rearguard, as Jamie Raynor freed skipper Arron Scutt who’s shot crashed against the crossbar and bounced to safety. United finally broke the deadlock on 35 minutes when Luke Rayner-Mistry tormented the fullback before cutting inside and unselfishly laying the ball into the path of the onrushing Jordan Smith who hit a rocket of a shot into the bottom corner giving the keeper no chance.
The wind was damaging the game as a spectacle, however United appeared to have adapted better to the conditions and reached half-time with the one goal advantage.
Two minutes into the second half Jordan Smith had a great chance after being put clean through on goal but Cooper made a great save tipping it around the post.
Hykeham had their first chance of the half ten minutes in when a corner was only half cleared and Ellis’s shot had to be cleared off the line by Andy Reeson. At the other end United had forced a corner, which Jordan Smith delivered and Rayner-Mistry’s acrobatic scissor kick just cleared the crossbar.
On 68 minutes Adam Broom made a welcome return from injury replacing Michael Howard.
United were finding plenty of space on the Hykeham left hand side and in one raid Jordan Smith broke free of the defence and with Cooper coming off his line the youngster shot just wide of the far post.
Hykeham continued to fire the ball long over the United defence, however they were getting no change at all from Man of the Match Andy Appleby and Jamie Skinner as the back line stood firm.
With five minutes remaining United finally got a deserved second goal to kill the game off which was nothing short of what they deserved.
Nathan Wetton clipped a good ball down the line to Jamie Raynor who controlled it superbly before cutting inside his man just outside the area then curling a delicious right foot shot into the far corner of the net for a great individual goal on his debut.
Tom Pickett came on for Jordan Smith in the final few minutes to make his first team debut and nearly set up Raynor for a second but the Champions had done enough to get the 3 points on the board against a very difficult Hykeham side.
Manager Mark Hallam said: “Today was just about getting those 3 points but the professionalism the team showed in difficult conditions and without several key players was something I was very proud of. It’s a very difficult place to come at the best of times so to play the way we did on opening day and come away with a clean sheet will give us great confidence going into another tough game at Horncastle on Tuesday night.”
Team: B Smith, Bartlett, Wetton, Appleby, Howard (Broom), Skinner, Scutt ©, Raynor, Rayner-Mistry, J Smith (Pickett) and Reeson.
Man of the Match: Andy Appleby.