AS 1874 Northwich continue to set the pace in the North West Counties Premier Division, co-manager Wayne Goodison has hailed the role being played by skipper Matt Woolley.

The 29-year-old midfielder or defender, in his sixth season in green since signing from Cheshire League outfit Knutsford, is at the beating heart of a side that is co-managed by Paul Bowyer and six points clear after Saturday’s 5-0 trouncing of third-placed Charnock Richard.

“The thing with Matty over the two to three years we’ve been in charge he’s been a regular feature,” said Goodison of a man who has now clocked up 274 appearances for 1874 after spells at Witton Albion, FC Halifax, Congleton Town and Alsager.

“He’s the captain, he’s great in the dressing room and around the place.

“But I think people underestimate what a good player he is.

“He keeps us ticking over, he does simple things for us, he spots danger.

“He’s an experienced player along with Jonah (Mark Jones) at the back, so he gives us a great platform to go and play.”

While Woolley’s almost been a part of the furniture in 1874’s title-chasing campaign, fellow midfielder Callum Gardner has been in and out but caught the eye recently with his goal contributions in strong performances.

He has netted four times in the last four games he has started.

“Callum’s been really patient all season,” said Goodison.

“He’s had some little runs in the team but recently he’s come in and done the job we’ve asked him to do.

“I’m really pleased for him and I think the lads are as well.

“He’s got real quality when he gets on the ball and he uses that in good areas for us.”

1874, without a game in midweek, return to action at Skelmersdale United on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Jake Parker’s 30th-minute goal from a poor back pass was the difference between the two sides when they met at Townfield in September.

Skem, currently 16th, were 3-1 losers at Squires Gate on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 1874's Cheshire Senior Cup quarter-final trip to Warrington Town has now been confirmed for Tuesday, February 4.