IT is time to put all the pre-season hard work to the test as the new football term starts this weekend.

Winsford United and Middlewich Town will both be on the road in their opening games on Saturday.

Blues travel to Charnock Richard in the North West Counties League Premier Division, kick-off 3pm, for the first of two meetings between the sides in eight days.

The Lancashire outfit will then visit Barton Stadium a week on Saturday, 3pm, in the Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round.

And those two contests sandwich Lee Duckworth's men hosting Macclesfield at Barton Stadium on Tuesday, 7.45pm.

It is an intriguing start to Blues' campaign.

Playing the same team twice in a short period, with the potential of an FA Cup run at stake, can be tricky.

And in between Blues face a Macclesfield side born out of the wound-up National League Macclesfield Town club, new opponents therefore in the North West Counties League and with high-profile football pundit Robbie Savage – the former Wales international midfielder – as their director of football.

While a team is starting to gel at the commencement of a season – especially one after two previous campaigns were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic – an in-form goalscorer is worth his weight in gold.

And that is something Blues have in Joe Duckworth.

He scored all four goals in the 4-1 victory over Mossley AFC on Monday in Winsford's final friendly.

The striker, who bagged a hat-trick in a recent victory over Maine Road, scored all three goals in the side’s draw at Bacup Borough on July 17 and twice more in Blues’ 4-3 home win against Oldham Athletic Academy on July 20.

Meanwhile, Middlewich Town kick-off under their new management team in the Cheshire League Premier Division at Broadheath Central on Saturday, 2pm.

All eight of the Witches' games in August will be played away from home due to pitch renovation work.

They go into the new term under new managers Chris Thomas and Peter Hughes, along with coach Ant Young, on the back of a 4-1 loss at Alsager on Saturday which followed a 4-2 win at Winnington Avenue 94.