LITTLE Lever kick-started their season with a big win at the weekend.

Without a victory since the opening day of the Lancashire Amateur League Premier Division season, it finally came together as they thumped Rochdale St Clements 5-1.

Manager Matt Barnes has had a testing time, having been hampered in his team selections so far this term. But with just two players absent – the suspended Jordan Hamer and Craig Bingham, on inter-league representative duty – Little Lever ended a four-game losing run in some style.

“Saturday was the first time I’ve been able to put out anything like our first-choice team,” he said. “It was good to finally get that win, and we played really well.

“I can’t say we’d been playing all that well in the previous games, except when we lost in the Lancashire FA Cup at Hurlston Hall.

“We battered them that day but couldn’t put the ball in the net and they had few chances but scored twice and won.

“That’s the way it had been going for us, we haven’t been great and our discipline has let us down – that’s something we have spoken about with the lads because we need 11 on the pitch when we play some of these teams, like Clements and Old Bolts, who are very hard to beat – though I have to say the standard of refereeing has been atrocious so far this year.

“The ref on Saturday wasn’t good, he was just less shocking than some of the others we’ve had this season.”

Looking for their first victory since mid-August, Little Lever were handed a boost by Clements scoring an own goal for their third, after Kieran Yates’ opener and a superb strike from Jack Coop, a beautifully-struck 30-yard volley that Barnes says is the best he has seen in many a year.

Yates’ brother and midfield partner Steve Yates hit the fourth and Kyle Bennett rounded off a good day’s work.

While Hamer completes his suspension this Saturday when his side go to Old Blackburnians, Bingham will be available once again.

And Barnes is targeting maximum points from that match, and the four to come after it, as he bids to lead his team to a top-three finish.

“We feel we have five games coming up which are all winnable games for us,” he added. “We should be higher than where we are in 10th, we know that.

“I’m still confident we can finish in the top three, especially if we can pick up 15 points from the next five, which we can do with everybody available.

“I don’t see that anybody else will win their next five so we could be right up there. Onwards and upwards.”

It was a miserable day for Horwich St Mary’s Victoria, who lost 4-1 at home to Bury GSOB, but Blackrod warmed up for their derby at home to leaders Old Boltonians with a 2-1 win at Old Mancunians, courtesy of goals by Michael McGinlay and David Sutch.