THERE has been quite the turnaround at Daisy Hill, a team starting to bloom and put a permanent end to recent seasons of struggle.

North West Counties teams have been served notice Daisy Hill will no longer be one of the First Division North’s whipping boys.

It has been a remarkable turnaround at New Sirs, where Brian Hart’s side are banishing the memories of back-to-back second-bottom finishes and are setting their sights on the higher reaches.

There is, however, one run they are keen to break.

The Daisies’ season so far has seen them win and lose alternate matches, in all competitions, one of them an FA Vase defeat that means they are not in action this weekend.

And, since their last outing was Saturday’s 1-0 victory at home to Golcar United, chairman Graham Follows wants that sequence ending when they return to action against the division’s bottom side, Steeton, a week on Saturday.

“We’ve played six games at home, won five of them, and only two away,” he said. “We lost at Ashton Town and we just didn’t turn up at AFC Liverpool [a 7-1 defeat in late August], but our home form is a lot better and we’ve lost to two teams I am sure will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. We’ve won one then lost one all through the season so far, so hopefully we can start to put a few wins together in a run now.

“It’s all looking a lot better for us at the moment, it looks like being a very good season for us. The lads are playing a lot better, their fitness is far better, there’s a real togetherness and we’re quite optimistic for the future.

“Last year we were in a situation where we went into games wondering how many we were going to concede, and we were having to score four in a game if we were to have a chance of winning, we conceded far too many silly goals.”

In his second full season as Daisy manager, Hart – a former boot boy of Sam Allardyce in his Wanderers days – is remaining cautiously optimistic about their chances, but feels he now has the right mix of experience and youth.

The Daisies currently sit third in the table and, though it is early days, they can start to dream of a historic promotion that would take the club to its highest-ever position in the pyramid.

“I’m quite happy, certainly compared to last season,” Hart said. “We’ve tried to get a better balance this time, I think we had too much emphasis on young players, we just needed that little bit more experience in the team. We’ve made small improvements, rather than trying to rewrite the book.

“We’ve got a bit more depth and better balance, we’ve brought in a few, some new, fresh faces and some who have come up from the youth team. We have decided to make the under-18 team an u21 team, that way we can help lads coming into the first team, it just helps them to bridge that gap.”

Two of those coming through are Jamie Ramwell and Jacob Ridings, bright young talents who have accounted for 11 goals between them. Ramwell is narrowly ahead on six but Ridings’ tally of five goals before mid-September is especially impressive, coming from a right wing-back.

“Those two broke into the first team towards the end of last season, Jacob is probably the fittest player I’ve seen,” admitted Hart. “It’s phenomenal, his work rate and endeavour makes him unplayable at times. He’s very dangerous going forward and stays compact at the back.”

Last Saturday Daisy Hill edged out Golcar 1-0, with neither Ridings or Ramwell on target.

Two other new faces were at the forefront of their fifth victory with Joe Mullarkey grabbing the only goal on nine minutes and goalkeeper Dean Williams keeping a clean sheet to earn the man-of-the-match award.

“We are still settling in but two important aspects for us are our consistency and availability,” added Hart. “Last season we had so many players that really weren’t good enough but now we have a healthy respect for each other, we are supportive of each other and competitive, because the competition for places is real.

“There’s such a long way still to go but it’s nice for this club to be up there after the last few seasons being down at the bottom.”

Also enjoying an upturn in fortunes on the field are Atherton LR, who are a point and a place behind Daisy in the table. They also won on Saturday, with Connor Comber netting all their goals in a 3-2 win at home to St Helens Town.

In the Lancashire Amateur Shield there were penalty shootout defeats for CMB – who lost 7-6 to Galgate after a 3-3 draw – and Horwich St Mary’s Victoria, defeated 4-2 at Lytham after drawing 2-2.

Bolton Lads and Girls Club also exited the Shield after a shootout. They drew 2-2- with visitors Hesketh Bank but went down 4-2 on spot-kicks.

Atherton Town did not need penalties, since they progressed with a 3-0 win at home to Rossendale.

Bolton United and Eagley were awarded their ties via walkovers, against Elton Vale and Radcliffe Juniors respectively.

Arguably the game of the day in Lancashire Shield outings saw Tempest United progress at the expense of local rivals, visitors Stoneclough.

Though the visitors hit three goals through Power, Mannion and Cankalis, Tempest’s five – from Monson, Thorpe, Farnworth, Rothwell and Westwell – saw them through.

In the Lancashire Amateur League Premier Division, Bolton Wyresdale sit fourth after a 4-1 victory at Old Blackburnians, with Kieran Raynor scoring a hat-trick and Joe Raynor also finding the net.

Horwich RMI were 2-1 winners at home to Failsworth Dynamos Reserves but Blackrod Town’s home game against Tottington United was abandoned.

Bolton County are top of the Manchester League Premier Division after their 2-1 win at home to Chadderton reserves.