IF Winsford are to reach their target of a top 10 finish, they’ll have to do so the hard way.

Blues closed to within a win of last season’s points tally when they twice came from behind to draw with AFC Darwen on Thursday.

However they now start a sequence of four matches against teams in the North West Counties League Premier Division’s top five.

The first of those is against Runcorn Town tomorrow.

However player-manager Lee Duckworth has reiterated his belief Winsford perform best when they’re not expected to win.

“It doesn’t get any easier, does it?” he said.

“However we’ve shown previously this season that we often show our best side in these games.

“I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s because we’ve no pressure on us.

“That’s a mentality thing, and in time what is a young side will better handle the responsibility of being favourites for victory.”

Blues did put in an encouraging performance against Bootle on Monday, and were unlucky to lose 3-0.

A contentious penalty award, when their guests’ lead was a slender one, changed the course of the game.

And, as if to prove their manager’s point, Winsford toiled to beat a Darwen side that sits fourth from bottom in the table.

“We missed chances again,” said Duckworth.

“Even though we equalised late on, it was two points dropped.”

Winsford start tomorrow’s game 12th in the table.

They were boosted on Thursday by the return of versatile midfielder Dale Jennings, while Josh Perry and Robbie Hatton are in contention to feature on Saturday too.

Attacker Danny Egan (knee) is ruled out by an injury.

Runcorn have responded to successive defeats, against Irlam and Barnoldswick, by winning their next three games.

It leaves them six points adrift of table-toppers Atherton Collieries, who host Blues on Monday, with seven matches left.