THEY are already playing catch-up in the Lancashire Amateur League Premier Division, but Thornleigh got their first win of the season on Saturday.

And now they are up and running, manager Aaron McCarthy says one of the biggest tests they will face in the top flight this term comes this weekend.

Thornleigh struggled to come to terms with a difficult playing surface in their first-round LFA Amateur Cup tie at Wigan and District League side Abram and trailed 2-1 at half time.

But five goals after the break saw Thornleigh dump out their hosts in style to set up a Bolton derby in Round Two, with Bolton Wyresdale – given a walkover victory in their tie at Goose Green United – the visitors to Castle Hill.

“We have only had two league fixtures, tough ones, so far and we lost them both, to Prestwich and Burnley Belvedere, so it was good to get off the mark on Saturday,” said McCarthy. “We deserved to win, the pitch wasn’t great, it was a bit of a leveller and we struggled. Abram saw it as their chance to prove a point and made it difficult.

“But, overall, we were the better team and we could have had more goals but didn’t put a lot of our chances away.”

Six chances were capitalised upon by Thornleigh, with Gareth Colquitt and Adrian Nugent each hitting two goals, with debutant Ryan Bollard and new player-coach Niall Callaghan also on target.

It was a welcome victory for McCarthy, who is looking to use the side’s games in hand to begin picking up points and climbing the Premier Division table.

While rivals are up to six games into their league seasons, Thornleigh have just those two defeats in the book.

And it gets no easier for them this weekend, as they face champions Whitworth Valley.

“I don’t think they are quite the same team as they were last season,” added McCarthy. “They have lost two of their main players, a striker and a winger who got most of their goals between them, but it will still be difficult.

“I’m just hoping we put in a good performance – in all honesty, these games against the very top teams aren’t the ones that will decide how our season goes. We’re at the bottom and don’t want to fall too far behind early on, even with our games already in hand.

“Our first aim is to stay in the Premier Division – we struggled but managed to stay up last season – the second is to get more consistency into our game.

“Last season our performances weren’t there and our individual mistakes were getting punished. We conceded so many goals in the last 10 to 15 minutes of games to drop points, we’re determined to stop that.

“Niall [Callaghan] should help with that, he’s got a good background playing for Atherton Colls and LR, he’s coming towards the end of his playing career but he’s still a handy ‘impact sub’.

“He should help us a lot on the defensive side of things and with our game management.

“We’ve got some good new signings, Jordan Mason and Adam Walker, so we feel with the squad we’ve got now, we’re on the right track.”

Blackrod Town were knocked out of the Amateur Cup, losing 1-0 at Milton.

In LAL Premier Division action, Old Boltonians suffered their first defeat of the season, going down 2-0 at home to Failsworth Dynamos.

In the West Lancashire League’s top division, CMB were defeated 5-2 by visitors Lytham Town, with Jack Francis and Charlie Scholes getting their goals.

Eagley got their first win of the season in Division One, hitting four goals without reply at home to Ulverston Rangers. Jacob Greenhalgh netted twice, with Reece Hardie and Bailey Wallace also scoring.

Stoneclough were also victorious on Saturday, returning home from Milnthorpe Corinthians with three points from a 3-1 win, thanks to goals from Steve Ward either side of one from Jon Stephenson.

But there was a defeat for Horwich St Mary’s Victoria, who went down 2-0 at Millom.

In the North West Counties League First Division North, former Wanderers under-23 player Connor Comber gave Atherton LR a lead at third-placed Shelley on the hour mark, but an equaliser 10 minutes from time saw the spoils shared.

Dave Jones’ LR host Chadderton this Saturday while Daisy Hill, who had a weekend off, host bottom club Steeton this weekend.