WITH a big derby on the horizon, it would be easy for minds to wander.

Northwich Victoria and 1874 Northwich will finally meet for the first time this season on Wednesday in a meeting that fell foul of the weather on Boxing Day.

It is a season highlight for both fans and a large crowd is expected to flock to Wincham Park.

However, there are jobs to do for both sides before then – Vics host Charnock Richard on Saturday at the same time as 1874 travel to Hanley Town.

“We hope it’s a nice evening so that there will be a big crowd from both sides, but I’m sure there will be anyway,” 1874 co-boss Wayne Goodison said.

“It’s set up to be a good game but no matter what people say about the fixture, they always are.

“Our focus at the moment is 100 per cent on Saturday and Hanley at the moment, though.

“We’ll train on Thursday, make sure everyone’s okay and go into Saturday.”

By the impeccable standards they have set this season, ’74 are in something of a mini-slump.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Runcorn Town saw them drop points for the first time since losing to Longridge Town in November while Tuesday’s 1-0 Cheshire Senior Cup loss to Warrington Town was the first time they had been beaten in any competition since that same game.

While Goodison was pleased with how they acquitted themselves against a side from two leagues above them on Tuesday, there is still the need to bounce back.

That need takes them to Staffordshire to face a Hanley side who like them may well be exiting the North West Counties League Premier Division at season’s end – but in the wrong direction.

Only two points keeps Hanley off the foot of the table but Goodison still expects a tough test and called upon his side’s loyal army of fans to back them as well as they always do.

“If we’re going to lose a game, we want to lose it playing the way we have been doing this season,” he said.

“We’ve not lost at Warrington because we haven’t played well. We’ve lost because of one moment in the game and that can happen.

“The fans are great wherever we go.

“I know its an old cliché but it really does make a difference. The lads do notice it.

“No matter whether they are struggling or not, Hanley always make it tough for us.

“I know they have signed some players this week so we expect nothing other than a difficult game.”