FOR Witton Albion, lockdown came at precisely the wrong time.

A run of four league victories on the bounce had sent them soaring into the Pitching In Northern Premier League play-off spots when the action ground to a halt at the start of last month.

With a return nearing – Albion are scheduled for FA Trophy action at home to Bamber Bridge on Tuesday, kick off 7.45pm – the challenge now is to make sure they retain as much of that momentum as possible.

Preparation time is limited, but manager Carl Macauley is aiming to make the most of the time he has to get his side ready for action again.

“The lads have done everything we’ve asked of them during lockdown, but there’s no substitute for getting the ball work in and working on shape,” he said.

“That’s why we need that time ahead of playing again to do that.

“The league gave the option that we didn’t have to play on the 5th and I think the majority of clubs have done that to give themselves extra time.

“You just hope that we hit the ground running again.

“We’ve pencilled in a friendly behind closed doors before we play Bamber Bridge so that we can get 90 minutes under our belts. That will put us in good stead.

“Wednesday will be a tough session and we’ll work on our pattern on Thursday.

“We developed a programme for the lads to work on in their own time.

“We’ve used Strava to make sure they get their runs in to keep themselves ticking over.

“The negative effect obviously is that we were doing ever so well when lockdown came in.

“It’s been tough but it is what it is. Everyone is the same boat.”

Albion were given a bye through the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy prior to lockdown after scheduled opponents Scarborough Athletic were forced to forfeit the tie due to several squad members testing positive for Covid-19.

The draw paired them with another league rival in Bamber Bridge who, unlike Macauley’s men, were probably grateful for the suspension of fixtures when it arrived.

They had lost seven of their nine league games to sit third from bottom of the Premier Division table, but the Albion boss says his side will not be taking their opponents lightly.

“Because the league is so strong, we have to approach every game as if it’s going to be tough,” he said.

“I managed to watch Bamber Bridge twice before lockdown – one of them was away to Ashton and they were very good.

“Jamie Milligan always gets his teams playing football so we expect a difficult game. Lockdown probably came at a good time for them as they weren’t getting results.

“Touch wood, we’re fine with injuries which is good for us.

“Now with us organising an in-house game, it’s perfect for the lads to get minutes under their belts to make sure they are ready.”