Andy Neild on tomorrow's start to the North Western Trains League season

CLITHEROE will be looking to carry on from where they left off last year when they kick off the new North Western Trains League season against Leek CSOB at Shawbridge tomorrow.

The Blues showed promotion form over the second half of the season, eventually finishing sixth after picking up 45 points from the last 21 games.

And with manager Denis Underwood capitalising on Haslingden's decision to fold by snapping up five of their players, he believes his team are equipped to finish even higher this time.

"We played very well at the back end of last season and with the additions we have made to the squad during the summer we are looking even stronger," said Underwood.

"We don't know too much about Leek, but they must be useful if they won promotion last year."

In: John Parrott, Darren Norman, Gary Rishton, Lloyd Green, Andy Rouine (all Haslingden), Dave Worthington (Settle), Andy Smith (Great Harwood).

Out: John Morrey, Paul Mullin.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED manager Ken Bridge will have to wait a few weeks before he can pair together strikers Paul Thompson and Russell Brierley in what could prove to be a dream forward line.

New sign Thompson, who bagged 19 goals for Rossendale last season, will be partnered by reserve team striker Stuart Telfer at Mossley tomorrow as Brierley is still recovering from a hernia operation.

"It's a blow for us because we were looking forward to seeing Paul Thompson and Russell Brierley playing together up front," said secretary John Maher. "It's a tough start and I think we will be very happy if we can come away with a point. Once Ken has a full squad to pick from I think we'll have a decent season."

In: Paul Thompson (Rossendale United), Billy McCartney, Mark O'Brien (both Castleton Gabriels).

Out: Russ Hooton, Paul Cuddy (now assistant manager), Dave Hamilton.

BACUP BOROUGH manager Brent Peters says his side have never looked hungrier going into their home game with Squires Gate but he has warned against making a complacent start.

Borough finished one place above 'Gate in 14th last year, but Peters is confident his West View side can have a say in this season's title race.

"The first game of the season is always difficult because everyone is up for it. Where they finished last season doesn't matter," said Peters. "I want to improve 100 per cent on what Bacup Borough have done in previous seasons."

In: Scott Given (Burnley United), Paul Lyons (Radcliffe Borough), Nicky Taylor (Rossendale Utd), Des Gardiner (Rochdale League).

Out: None.

DARWEN begin life in the North Western Trains League Division Two with a real test of their mettle at Tetley Walker - but that suits manager Steve Wilkes down to the ground. But the Anchormen, who were relegated during the summer for failing to meet ground grading requirements, must start the new campaign without last year's top scorer Denny Khan who has a hamstring problem.

"It's a good start for us because they are a decent side and it will gives us a good early test," said Wilkes.

"We've now got the quality in the squad and the competition for places we didn't have last year."

In: Martin Hulme (Ramsbottom), Steve Elmer (Nelson), Jimmy Khan (Turton), David Barnes (Fenniscowles), Neil Almond (Reserves).

Out: Jerome Fitzgerald, Craig Shaw.

ROSSENDALE UNITED boss Micky Graham is still searching for a striker to fill the shoes of last season's top scorer Paul Thompson as his side face a testing opener at St Helens.

The Dale boss will also be without Paul Smith, Paul Houldsworth, John Andrews and Matt Knowles (all away on holiday) against the Merseysiders who finished fifth last year. "We always seem to get a difficult opener and Saturday is no exception, especially considering the players we'll have missing," said Graham. "I'm still on the look-out for a striker."

In: Jerome Fitzgerald (Darwen), Danny Jones (ex-Bury), Neil Perry.

Out: Nicky Taylor, Paul Thompson.

NELSON will have a new boss and a new team on show for their match at league new-boys Curzon Ashton.

John Bailey has taken over the managerial reins and brought in no less than 10 new faces, including six players from Colne. "We are looking to get off to a good start but I've got a few problems up front because Matt Shiels and Nigel Coates are both missing tomorrow because they've got to go to weddings," said Bailey.

In: Craig Whittaker, Chris Halstead (both Burnley United), John Naylor, Nick Roscoe, Nigel Coates, Neville Roscoe, Andy Dickinson, Craig Stansfield (all Colne), Ray Davies (Haslingden), Colin Wright (Barnoldswick). Out: Jonathan Irvine, Glen Little.

COLNE boss Denzil Hart has acted swiftly to bridge the gap left by the six players who have quit to join Nelson.

Hart is likely to have at least five new men making their debuts in what is sure to be a stiff test against one of this year's promotion favourites Woodley Sports at Holthouse tomorrow.

"We are quite confident we have got the makings of a decent side this season," said vice chairman Ray Moore.

In: John Roye, Keith Chambers, Joe Warner, Mark Baldacchino (all Manchester based), Steve Gavin (Droylsden).

Out: John Naylor, Nick Roscoe, Neville Roscoe, Andy Dickinson, Craig Stansfield, Nigel Coates.

TOMORROW'S FRIENDLIES: Chorley v Ashton Utd; Droylsden v Accy Stanley. Both 3pm starts.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.