The Witton Albion column - By Paul Harper

THE last few days have been good to have the football back. It’s been good to catch up with some of the players and see the couple of games we have played so far (at time of writing) in our pre-season preparations.

Last Tuesday saw us face a strong Southport side at Wincham Park. It was good to be back at the stadium where the playing surface looked excellent with big thanks to the hard work from the groundstaff and volunteers.

Against a team in the division above, who have made some good additions in the close season, we were more than a match for them despite it being the first time many of the squad had played for a good five months.

It was a very fairly even game in parts, but Albion played some really good stuff at time and it was pleasing to watch.

Southport had the luxury of changing their entire team at half time (a nightmare that any reporter will tell you) while Albion only had four substitutes on the night.

There were some tired legs come full time, but they had all worked hard in that first outing, put in good performances and that will do them the world of good having had no football in the previous five months. It finished 0-0 but it was a fairly entertaining evening.

We then went to take on Bootle last weekend. The Liverpool club have recently installed a hybrid pitch and it looked immaculate.

It was another good workout for the lads with a number of players getting a first runout, while again some trialists were looked at.

Scott Bakkor scored his first goal back in a Witton shirt after rejoining the club in the summer and that will help his confidence, as he has put in two very hardworking displays in the two games.

This week, we have seen EFL side Crewe Alexandra visit Wincham Park. We have been a good rapport with the Railwaymen over recent years and it was really pleasing to see them win promotion last season.

We have loaned a couple of their promising youngsters and they have visited us for friendlies in the past couple of years which is fantastic for us, providing a great test for our team.

At the weekend, it will be Derby Day as we play Northwich Victoria. It should have been for the Doctor Vijay Anthwal Trophy with proceeds going to the NHS, but both clubs have decided to put the trophy match on the back burner until we can allow fans into the stadium and, hopefully, raise a good sum for a great cause in the late Doc’s name.

The Under-21s continue to do well in their pre-season games. Last weekend saw them narrowly to a senior West Kirby side 3-2 while they defeated Nantwich Town Reserves 2-0 in a weekend double header.

They are putting a good side in place, and as has been shown in recent times, there is a pathway to the first team if players do well and can make the jump, so it can be an excellent stepping stone for young players to kick on with the football.