1874 NORTHWICH will play only their fifth league game of the season on Saturday against Runcorn Linnets.

However co-manager Wayne Goodison believes an encounter with their old foes will be an indicator of how the rest of the campaign may unfold.

His side’s record run in the FA Cup came to an end following a penalty shoot-out in a replay at Ossett on Tuesday, and their reaction could be telling.

“That’s what everybody will be looking at,” said Goodison.

“We know we have to put it behind us because the adventure is over.

“That doesn’t mean we forget the good things we did to make it so memorable, and the challenge now is to maintain those performance levels when we return to normality.

“I’m happy we’re playing Linnets; it’s a big game for the club, and the atmosphere and feel around the games against them are reminiscent of a cup tie.

“I think we’ll find out few things about ourselves and where we stand in relation to one of the best teams in the division.”

1874 have failed to beat their neighbours in six previous attempts, and a calamitous 4-1 defeat in their most recent meeting in March precipitated the departure of Ian Street as manager.

Linnets have started the season in encouraging form, and sit second in the table after losing only one of their 11 games.

However they will visit hosts buoyed by reaching the FA Cup third qualifying round and taking a higher-ranked opponent all the way.

Goodison said: “It’s hard to take when you lose on penalties.

“We’d practiced them last week, and everybody that wanted to take one did.

“The players know how well they’ve done, and should be really proud of how they’ve conducted themselves.

“We’ve played three teams from the leagues above, and none of them have beaten us over 90 minutes – that’s the standard we’ve set.

“We’re disappointed, of course, because in some ways we feel we didn’t play as well as we can.

“One or two players perhaps were excited by the occasion, but they’ll learn from that experience – it’s been really invaluable in that respect.”

Sam Hind and Matthew Woolley are both available again this weekend, when 1874 resume a pursuit of rivals who have played seven more league matches.

They will be separated by 18 points at kick-off too.

“We’ve spoken about it, and it’s not a concern,” added Goodison.

“Lads will look at it in their own way, but we’ll just get on with the job in hand.”