Is this the best side 1874 Northwich fans have seen?

That’s for others to decide, but this group updated another chapter in the club’s short history by recording a ninth successive win against Maine Road.

The previous best, a run of eight straight victories, was set between September 27 and November 2 back in 2014.

Of course this group has already broken new ground this season after reaching the FA Cup third qualifying round for the first time.

A clash with Pontefract Collieries in the FA Vase fourth round next month will also be a maiden appearance in the last 32 of that competition.

They are also still involved in the Macron League Cup, Cheshire FA Senior Cup and Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup – a trophy they are attempting to keep hold of after prevailing in the past two finals.

1874 5-0 Maine Road: match report

Maine Road are struggling though, right?

It’s true that Maine Road – a team in transition with a new manager attempting to make his mark – were probably perfect opponents on a return to action after more than a fortnight without a fixture.

However, as joint manager Paul Bowyer pointed out afterwards, this game was important for the hosts ahead of a run of games he has described as ‘critical’ to their campaign.

There a still six points up for grabs before the end of 2017, and wins in those two games could – with the correct combination of results elsewhere – leave 1874 Northwich in the top 10 on New Year’s Day.

At the very least, they have an incentive to start 2018 in the Premier Division table’s top-half.

In praise of Taylor Kennerley

While it is perhaps unfair to single out an individual after an impressive collective performance, the 20-year-old will inevitably attract attention for the way he took both of two goals.

A cushioned header used the pace of Sam Hind’s cross to leave visiting goalkeeper Ryan Livesey clutching at fresh air to make it 4-0.

However the youngster’s next strike was more impressive; a shot curled into the top corner, and off the inside of a post, with his left foot from the edge of the penalty area.

A foul on him persuaded referee Blake Antrobus to award a penalty in the first-half from which Scott McGowan put the home team in front.

His direct dribbling continues to be a potent weapon in 1874’s attacking armoury.

Northwich Guardian:

Taylor Kennerley seeks to make forward progress during an 1874 Northwich attack against Maine Road on Saturday. Picture: Ian Dutton

Shutting out opponents

1874 have kept a clean-sheet now in four successive matches.

Dean Thexton, a striker for Tow Law, was the last man to score a goal against them during an FA Vase encounter on November 14.

Close to 400 minutes, and more than six hours, of play has passed since.

Ryan Mitchell’s return after a brief spell at City of Liverpool has helped, particularly as his arrival has coincided with the absence of Danny Meadowcroft – an influential figure at the heart of the backline in the opening months of the campaign.

1874 conceded on 35 goals in their first season in the North West Counties League’s top-flight, but that figure has risen to at least 50 in each of the past two.

They are more solid, and only two teams – Runcorn Linnets and Bootle – have shut out opponents more often in Premier Division games this season.

Who to pick, and when?

Two players, Jack Lever and Ryan Jackson, were not included in a 16-man selection yesterday while a third – Danny Meadowcroft – was ruled out by injury.

Meanwhile Tom Rutter, a forward, has yet to feature since arriving from Colwyn Bay.

1874 have more than 30 Premier Division matches still to play, plus at least four in knockout competitions, and so need a bigger squad than some of their rivals to cope.

For the first time, management duo Paul Bowyer and Wayne Goodison have genuine dilemmas when it comes to picking a starting XI.

Sam Hind, who can play anywhere, was preferred to Adam Whitlock on Saturday, while Danny Thomas will soon be in contention after returning from a long-term knee injury.

1874 have the resources in terms of personnel, but the trick is to juggle them.

Northwich Guardian:

1874 Northwich's strength in depth will be tested during a gruelling fixture schedule in the remainder of the current campaign. Picture: Ian Dutton