THEIR search for a first victory under Lee Valentine continues but Little Lever at least showed their mettle to rescue a point at Old Mancunians.

Twice they fell behind at a side yet to lose in this season’s Lancashire Amateur League Premier Division and twice they hit back, Adam Clark and Alex Ward netting as they brought home a share of the spoils from a 2-2 draw.

And, though his side has just two points from a possible 12, Valentine knows there is more to come from Little Lever, with performances far better than the results suggest.

“We were losing twice on Saturday and came back into it both times,” he said. “And that came after they were given a very debatable penalty, the opinion around our team is that that should never have been given, but I’m pleased with how we kept at it and got back twice.

“It’s still early days so we’re not worried about having two points, we have been playing well, it’s just that the results haven’t quite dropped for us.

“We’ve got a completely new team really, a few lads from last year, some have returned to the club and a few have come up from the reserves. We think we’ve got a good side here, we were unlucky to concede a 90th-minute penalty against Chaddertonians, so we think a top-half finish should be our minimum target for the season.”

Valentine took over the first team following the departure of last season’s player-manager, Craig Bingham, who has, for now at least, hung up his tracksuit and joined the playing ranks at Bolton Lads and Girls Club. The new man at the helm has a good track record at Mytham Road, having led the second XI to the Division Two title last term.

And, ahead of this weekend’s derby, in which they will host Old Boltonians, the current occupants of top spot in the table.

While many may baulk at such a task, trying to get a maiden win against in-form table-toppers, Valentine is looking for his still-gelling team to make a statement at their local rivals’ expense.

“It’s a difficult one, it’s one of our biggest games of the season,” he added. “It’s a derby game against a team most of our players will know well, I only stopped playing fairly recently myself so I know a lot of their lads. They are doing well but we’ve been playing well too without getting the points. We’ll be up for it, I’m sure they will be, so it should be a good game.”

Elsewhere in the LAL, Old Bolts remain top despite dropping their first points of the top-flight season in a 1-1 draw at home to Old Blackburnians, captain Dave Warburton netting for the league leaders.

There were heavy home defeats for Bolton Wyresdale, who were beaten 4-0 by Rochdale St Clement’s, and Thornleigh, who were on the wrong end of a 7-2 victory for Burnley Belvedere.

In Division One Blackrod Town were 3-2 winners at Accrington Amateurs, a result that moves them to third in the table, but Horwich RMI were defeated 3-1 by their hosts Tottington United.

The three local sides in the West Lancashire League Premier Division all lost on Saturday.

CMB were beaten 3-1 at home to Hurst Green, after Tom Healey had put them ahead in the first half. There were 2-0 defeats for Turton and Tempest United, at Fulwood Amateurs and Thornton Cleveleys respectively.

Recently promoted to Division One, Horwich St Mary’s Victoria now lead the way after their last-gasp 2-1 victory at Hawcoat Park.

Horwich trailed with five minutes left on the clock but Matty James popped up with a later equaliser, before Matt Makinson held his nerve with a stoppage-time penalty, converting to give Matthew Unsworth’s side their sixth win in eight outings.

It was a bad day at the office for Stoneclough, who lost 4-0 at Kendal County, while Eagley stay rooted to the bottom of the Division One table with just one point from their first eight games. Their poor run continued with a 3-1 home loss against Askam United, Simon Neary with their sole strike.

In the Manchester League there were victories for Bolton County and Atherton Town.

County won their Premier Division match at Manchester Gregorians, with Tom Axon-Smith, Godwin May and Liam Short scoring in a 3-1 success while Atherton beat Altrincham Hale 2-1, Jordan Lloyd and Ben Rodgers on target for them.

Breightmet United’s troubles in Division Two continued as they remain without a point in their opening four games. Barry Gallagher found the net for United but they went down 9-1 at home to Unsworth to stay at the foot of the table.

Bolton United’s 100-per-cent record ended but their unbeaten start to life in the Manchester League continued as they drew 4-4 with visitors Irlam Steel.

Mohammed Dawood hit two goals while Ehtijaz Hussein and Mohammed Fahid Ali each netted for United, who sit fourth with seven points from nine.