The 1874 Column by Matt Waters

AFTER a week of three successive victories, we also saw the long-awaited return of Ryan Mitchell, who has battled back from injury.

Marking his first start with a goal and wearing the armband in Saturday’s FA Vase win, Mitchell told me he is delighted to be back playing for the club.

He said: “It’s been difficult for me over the past year.

“I’ve kept in contact with Bow (Paul Bowyer, co-manager) throughout pre-season and it was a bit harder for me because they came back a bit earlier and I wasn’t ready at that stage.

“I’ve kept working hard, building up my fitness and I’m delighted to finally be back playing for the club.

“I’ve been with the club almost since day one and I know what’s expected and hopefully we can carry it on if football continues.”

Like last season due to the restructure in higher tiers, there will be three teams promoted from the North West Counties Premier Division, and Mitchell believes it’s crucial 1874 Northwich get one of them.

“This league has always been tough to get out of,” he said.

“Before last season it had always just been one team promoted, but now it’s three, it’s harder than ever.

“In the past we’ve seen sides you’d expect to go up not do, so we have to keep striving forwards and setting those high standards.

“I think it’s crucial that we are in those top three heading into the end of the season.”

Saturday’s narrow victory over Harrogate Railway Athletic sends 1874 into the next round of the FA Vase and Mitchell believes that this team are good enough to go all the way.

“The Vase is always a competition that as players we look for at the start of the season,” he said.

“It means a lot to us with the end goal being a chance to play at Wembley.

“A few years ago, we came so close to doing that and this year I see no reason why we can’t do that.

“We know we are good enough to get there when we play at our best.

“Saturday was a disappointing performance but we’re through and that’s what matters.”

As we head into lockdown from today, Thursday, Mitchell added it is more important than ever to prepare right.

“We’re in a situation now where every time we step on to the pitch it could be our last game, so it’s more important than ever that we prepare the right way,” he said.

“We know that when we do play, we have to keep our standards and performance level high every Saturday and Tuesday to keep us in the best position possible.”