LEE Duckworth is confident his side can pass an exam they expect to have during their remaining games in 2018.

Winsford United host in-form Burscough, victors in their past five North West Counties League Premier Division fixtures, at Barton Stadium on Saturday.

A derby with 1874 Northwich follows on Boxing Day before City of Liverpool, the leaders and promotion favourites, arrive in town after that.

However all three of those rivals should feel at least some apprehension about facing opponents who have won five of their past seven league games.

READ > Winsford: fixtures and results for 2018-2018 season

“We’re going through our own purple patch, and obviously we want that to last as long as possible,” said Duckworth

“There is a tough run ahead of us, but we go into it with confidence high and our belief restored.”

A 4-1 win at home to Padiham last weekend, when Dave Short scored a hat-trick, was the first time Blues had played since a penalty shoot-out success against Witton Albion 11 days earlier.

READ > Winsford 4-1 Padiham: match report

Duckworth told the Guardian he was relieved not to have lost momentum, although a pause had given Steve Jenyons additional time to recover from a knee injury.

The former Knutsford captain returned against the Storks – his first start for Winsford since August.

“It gave us a chance to have a breather,” said Duckworth.

“Usually when you’re winning and things are going well the you want to play twice a week but this was a rare occasion when a break helped us out.”

Winsford had been due to visit Bootle on Tuesday only for heavy rainfall in the afternoon to prompt a postponement.

It means they enter the weekend occupying 17th position in the table, six points clear of second-bottom West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Short is suspended for a head-to-head with Burscough, while Perry Bircumshaw starts a three-match ban following his dismissal against Padiham.

Midfielder Liam Collins is injured, and Scott Taylor is unavailable.