WITTON Albion have one more friendly before the UniBond League season gets under way, but it's a week overdue for manager Gary Finley.
'We're ready now,' he said. 'We've been training three times a week since the end of June. The attitude of the players in training and the performances have all been tremendous.
'Beating Northwich Vics is a massive boost to our confidence. They were a mid-table Conference team last season and have improved the squad since, so that result sets us up for the start of the season.
'It can't come soon enough.' Finley has settled on his squad, though he has been unable to field a settled team so far. Eight possible first-teamers were absent in the friendly at Lancaster which gave a late chance to trialist Phil McDiarmid from Runcorn and reserve Mike McCarten a late chance to make their mark.
But Finley is likely to stand by a squad of 17, which may mean it will be difficult keeping them all happy.
'It's a problem I'd rather have than not,' he said.
Witton play TNS on Saturday as a forerunner to going to Farsley for the opening match a week later. Absent then until his return in September is midfielder Adam Foy who is coaching in the United States.
'It's a blow but gives someone else a chance,' added Finley.
Off the pitch, Witton are learning to live without the money paid to them as rent by Northwich Vics.
Chairman Mike Worthington said: 'It makes a big different when you take £25,000 out of the system. When it was thought to be for one season, it was easy to treat it as a one-off, but after three you get used to it.
'Now we need to tighten things up but we have made a commitment to Gary to give him the best possible start on the pitch without endangering the club.
'I prefer to think of it as an investment rather than a gamble and there's a greater feeling of enthusiasm about the place than for years.'
Witton - Worthington, Finley and reserve-team boss Jimmy Vince - will be at an information meeting for supporters on Monday (7.30pm) in the social club. Meanwhile, Rob Sproston has resigned as a director and Mike Miles joins the board.