ENDING the year 10 points clear at the top of the table would probably leave many a manager basking in the glow of a job well done, but Steve Eccleshare is doing no such thing.

Old Boltonians lead the Premier Division, having dropped just two points in 11 games unbeaten.

And although he is looking forward to a lay-off before they resume their title bid at Little Lever in the new year, Eccleshare knows only too well that nothing is in the bag yet.

“It’s a good time for a break, it allows us to recover and lets the lads have a bit of a rest, physically and mentally,” he said.

“We’ve done well so far but I never take anything for granted. We’re happy with a 10-point gap but we’ve played a few more games than a few of the teams chasing us. Top of the table is where I wanted to be and where I expected the lads to push themselves to get to at this stage.

“So we’ll make a fresh start in the new year, hopefully with everyone healthy and ready to go again. They still have the fire in their bellies and we’ll need it.”

Old Bolts face a testing time when they resume as, following their derby opener at third-placed Little Lever on January 6, they face champions Failsworth Dynamos, fourth-placed Old Mancunians and Rossendale, their nearest challengers who have three games in hand on them.

Rather than baulk at that run of games, though, Eccleshare is looking at the month as an opportunity to further stamp their authority on the division.

“I wouldn’t take anyone lightly, whether they’re up at the top or fighting at the bottom,” he added. “Every week the team we play wants to achieve something by putting one over on the team at the top.

“We have to deal with that and it only makes the animal stronger, especially if we win against the teams near us.

“I’m looking forward to some good games, Little Lever should be a lively one and the players have set high standards, they get annoyed if they’ve won but not played especially well, or if we should have had more goals.

“We’ve got a really strong squad and, after a few years of trying, we’ve got them to accept the rotation that we have to do. They’re happy with it now and that says a lot about their attitude and team spirit.”