STEVE Pickup has praised the players he has assembled to form a new-look Northwich Victoria team in the space of four weeks.

The new Vics boss, who was previously assistant to Steve Wilkes, was left with only one fit squadman due to a raft of departures following the FA laterally moving the club out of the North West Counties League into the Midland League for the 2023-24 season.

While accepting he has more recruiting to do, he was proud of the group after they secured a 2-0 home win against AFC Blackpool in Saturday’s friendly at the U Lock It Stadium.

Ryan Jackson, who has elected to stay with the team despite the extra travelling involved in playing in the Midland League, and new striker Malakai McKenzie bagged the goals against replacement opposition following Flint Town United’s late cancellation of the scheduled fixture.

“We were the better team in the second half and we could have had two or three more goals,” said Pickup.

“It’s been a very tough four weeks for the club, for the coaching staff and players.

“We have to be patient with the players and understand that four-and-a-half weeks ago we had three players left.

“And two of them couldn’t play until Christmas and the end of September, so we were left with one player.

“Therefore, to put a team on the pitch and to be competitive and win a game against AFC Blackpool, who were decent on the day, is credit to the lads.”

Vics have confirmed an extra friendly to the previously confirmed pre-season calendar.

They will now play Bootle at the U Lock It Stadium on Wednesday, July 26.

Vics’ remaining pre-season fixtures:

Tomorrow, Wednesday 19th July: Newcastle Town away, 7.30pm.

Saturday 22nd July: Thackley AFC away, 3pm.

Wednesday 26th July: Bootle home, 7.45pm.

Friday 28th July: Hanley Town, away 7.30pm.