SAM Naylor has hailed Northwich’s second-half performance at Birkenhead Park last weekend, insisting Blacks should not be downbeat despite losing.

“Look at the margins – they’re small,” he said.

“We’ve fallen short now in games against the two best teams in the league, but not by much.

“That’s left us with mixed emotions; we’re disappointed not to have won matches that perhaps we should, but we’ve discovered there’s little to choose between us.

“We can take heart from that, but our challenge is to work out how to bridge the gap.”

Blacks followed a previous defeat this season with a hard-fought win at struggling Eccles.

They attempt to recover later today against more formidable opponents - fourth-placed Wilmslow.

Naylor said: "We got the job done at Eccles, but it was a struggle - we felt flat after losing.

"Mind you, that was after a 27-game winning run.

"Wilmslow are a strong side, one that we've not had much success against in the past.

"But we're at home, where we feel comfortable, and confidence is still high.

“I’m not sure we’ve been at our best yet; when we’ve lifted ourselves, it’s been for bursts within games like against Burnage or Kirkby Lonsdale.

“In those spells, we’ve shown glimpses of what we’re truly capable of.”

Blacks showed their resilience last Saturday, recovering from 26-9 down at the interval.

Nick Baldwin struck the post with a conversion attempt that would have hauled the visitors level, then was narrowly off-target with a penalty in added time.

“His kicking kept us in the game earlier on,” said Naylor.

“We never got going in the first half, and they pinned us back – we couldn’t get out.

“There was nothing complicated about what they did, but it was effective.”

Kick off at Moss Farm today is 2.15pm.