Last season’s position: Fourteenth

There will be some regret that Winsford United didn’t deliver on promise shown during the early stages of last season.

However injuries to Jordan Johnson and Michael Koral, plus the departure of Nathan Cotterell to Nantwich Town, decimated an attacking combination that had promised much.

They still enjoyed runs to the last four of both the Macron Cup and the Cheshire FA Senior Cup, and pushed favourites Witton Albion all the way in the Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup final.

The emergence of Perry Bircumshaw was exciting, and he will be looking to improve again.

Story of the summer

It’s arguable that Winsford’s best signings are those that were already at the club.

Lee Duckworth can build around a spine of Will Foster, Michael Taylor, Ryan Hopper and Michael Koral – all of them key players for Blues last season.

That isn’t to denigrate who he has recruited and persuading central defender Steve Jenyons to leave Knutsford – who he led to a historic double as captain last term – could be one of the shrewdest moves of any club in the North West Counties League’s top-flight.

New recruits

Matthew Cook DEF (from Abbey Hey); Jack Cookson GK (from AFC Liverpool); Marcus Dibble DEF; Tom Fisher FOR (from Mossley); Michael Langley GK (from City of Liverpool); Sam Marshall MID (from New Mills); Brandon Moores FOR (from Sandbach United); Steve Jenyons DEF (from Knutsford); Dave Short FOR (from Congleton Town); Jack Woolley FOR (from 1874 Northwich)

Pre-season quote

“We’ll start this season in the same way we have the others since I took charge, and that’s by looking to improve on what we achieved in the previous campaign.”

Lee Duckworth (player-manager)

How is August looking?

Aug 4, Abbey Hey (a); Aug 6, Bootle (h); Aug 11, Irlam (a) (FAC); Aug 18, Northwich Victoria (a); Aug 20, Runcorn Town (h); Aug 25, Silsden (a); Aug 27, Barnoldswick (a)

Manager’s main challenge

For the second successive summer, Lee Duckworth has lost his leading goal-scorer from the previous campaign following Callum Gardner’s transfer to 1874 Northwich.

He has made it a priority to sign players that can support Michael Koral in attack, and finding the right combination in the final third of the field will be his primary objective.

Tom Fisher has pedigree, while Dave Short and Jack Woolley are alternatives.

If Blues can spread the load, then they can be optimistic of improving on last season’s finish.

Last season’s results: W16 D10 L18

First name on the team-sheet

Michael Taylor

Made a significant impact following his arrival from Mossley in the second-half of last season, and was the best player on the field in the Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup final against Witton Albion before an injury ended his involvement.

Quickly established himself as a favourite among Blues’ supporters for his all-action style in the middle of the field, and even excelled during a cameo in goal during a win at Maine Road following Ben Chapman’s dismissal shortly after the interval.

No longer with them

Callum Gardner FOR (to 1874 Northwich); Matthew Green GK; Robbie Hatton FOR (to Lostock Gralam)

Past five seasons: Fourteenth; Thirteenth; Fourteenth; Twelfth; Fourteenth

Pre-season results

Jul 07, Sandbach United (a) 5-1; Jul 14, Maine Road (n) 5-3; Jul 21, Stalybridge Celtic (h) 1-5; Jul 24, Heyside (n) 10-0; Jul 28, Penycae (a) 9-2; Jul 31, Nantwich Town (h) 0-4