ROSS Speight has insisted that a testing summer schedule means Middlewich Town can avoid a slow start to the season.

The Witches’ hopes of challenging for promotion to the Cheshire League’s top-flight last term were irreparably damaged after they won only once before October.

With seven games scheduled for this month alone, the first of which is tonight when Lostock Gralam visit, they are desperate to gather momentum quickly.

“It’s so important to make the most of it,” said the co-manager.

“August is difficult for every side at this level because lads are on holiday and availability for midweek games is unpredictable because guys have work commitments.

“But we’re determined to get it right, and pre-season has been a success.”

Rory Gorton and Nathan Devaney were on target in a 2-0 win at home to Orford in their final friendly on Saturday.

That followed a narrow 3-2 defeat when New Mills visited in midweek, Sam Wakefield and Chris Lunn netting for Town.

Speight said: “It’s been a tough run of games, but that was deliberate.

“I think we get more out of a game when we’re pushed – what’s the point of hammering a weaker side?

“We got a proper hiding by Runcorn Linnets last month, but I learned more from that match than I did from beating Congleton Vale the previous Saturday.”

Middlewich are due at Cheadle Town reserves this weekend.

They then host Daten on Wednesday.