LEE Duckworth concedes Winsford United will not be able to catch their opponents by surprise when a new season starts on Saturday.

Blues head to Maine Road, a familiar foe from the North West Counties League, to play an FA Cup extra preliminary round tie.

“They know all about us, and we do them,” he said.

“Maine Road are always a young, hard-working side that is hard to beat on their own pitch and I don’t expect this weekend to be any different.

“For us, it’s definitely a difficult draw.

“However the FA Cup is important, and we know from last season’s run that it can be a springboard to start the campaign strongly.

“We’ve great memories of going up to Whitby and bringing them back down here for a replay.”

His side completed have their pre-season preparations with three successive defeats.

They lost 1-0 at Middlewich last Thursday, then went down 5-3 at Holywell 48 hours later.

Altrincham, among the favourites to win the Northern Premier League’s top-flight title this term, the scored four times without reply during the first half of a friendly at St Luke’s Barton Stadium on Tuesday.

Duckworth has continued to add to his squad, and Blues confirmed the signing of wide man Callam Gardner last weekend.

The 26-year-old returns for a second spell after turning out for Winsford during Lloyd Morrison’s one-season tenure as manager.

Duckworth said: “I was made up when Callam agreed terms.

“He is extremely creative, and will be a threat from a number of positions on the field.

“He’s a guy that makes things happen, and I’m certain he’ll quickly become a favourite among our supporters.”