CARL Macauley has said, for now at least, Witton Albion’s priority is to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.

A 1-0 victory over Matlock Town last weekend moved his side seven points clear of the bottom three in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight.

READ > Witton 1-0 Matlock: match report

He insists there is work to do despite the Northwich team having at least two – and in most cases, three – games in hand on rivals below.

“We’re looking over our shoulder, that’s the reality,” Macauley told the Guardian.

“It’s how we’ll continue to approach it for the time being.

“With that in mind we’ll just continue trying to collect points and performing as we have been.”

A trip to Hyde United awaits tomorrow afternoon before another away game, at Lancaster City, concludes January’s fixtures.

Albion’s form on the road is reason for optimism; they have lost only one of their past seven Premier Division matches away from Wincham Park, winning five.

Macauley also hopes that a rare league victory on home turf, their first since squeezing past Lancaster in the return on November 3, is a sign of things to come.

“I hope the lads take confidence from it,” he said.

“They’d played so well in the previous four games, only to lose three of them.

“That can affect you, which is normal, and you can keep going over things in your head because you feel you ought to have taken something.”

Billy Smart is suspended for a meeting with the Tigers, while attacker Delial Brewster has left.

With Nick Ryan (leg) and Chris Noone (knee) recovering from injuries, it leaves Albion with just 14 players – including goalkeeper Greg Hall – to pick from this weekend.

“We cannot bring anybody in unless we ship somebody else out,” said Macauley.

“I’ve spoken to the board and over the past couple of weeks we’ve been bang on the budget.

“That means we’re really limited with what we can do.”