MAURICE Watkin is optimistic Holker Old Boys can to turn a corner as they prepare to host Prestwich Heys in their final game of 2018 tomorrow.

A recent upturn in results has seen Holker climb out of the relegation zone of the North West Counties League First Division North with games in hand on the sides below them.

A 2-1 win over Bacup Borough just under three weeks ago – the pre-Christmas trips to Ashton Town and Nelson being postponed – and bottom two Daisy Hill and Atherton LR drawing 2-2 on Boxing Day means they are two points clear of their rivals.

And Old Boys chairman Watkin hopes it will not be long before the club are looking further up the table rather than over their shoulder.

“It certainly has been an up-and-down year,” said Watkin, reflecting on a year which saw Holker come close to earning a play-off place last season and celebrate reaching 1,000 games in the North West Counties League in September.

“It’s been a hard start to the (2018/19) season, but hopefully after Christmas it will change a little and we’ll turn the corner. But, as they say, you can only take it game by game.”

“We've been playing okay, it's just getting a bit of continuity with the lads. With other commitments, sometimes it's not always easy to get the same side out, but we are getting to the stage where we've got a squad of 16 or 17 which are the same people now. Hopefully we're going to turn the corner.”

Tomorrow's match at Rakesmoor Lane will be a tough test for Holker, with Prestwich fourth in the First Division North table and aiming to close the nine-point gap between themselves and leaders Longridge Town.

Old Boys were also beaten 6-0 by the visitors at the start of the month in a match which saw them concede three goals in the opening half an hour.

But that defeat was followed immediately by the win at home to Bacup, while Holker have beaten fifth-placed AFC Liverpool on their own patch recently as well.

Those results have given reason to believe the team's fortunes are starting to turn as they head into the second half of the season.

Barrow AFC's Vanarama National League game at home to Salford City kicking off at 12.35pm means Old Boys, who play at 3pm, may well get a boost in their attendance from those still in need of a football fix making the short trip after full time at Holker Street.

The fact Prestwich are a team from a nearby area of Greater Manchester might tempt some Salford fans up to Rakesmoor Lane as well rather than dash off home.

“We can only hope so because Prestwich get a few players from around the Salford area, so they may get some of their lads coming up after Barrow's to watch us,” said Watkin.

“It would be good and hopefully there will be a crowd there, so we'd like to put on a decent performance at least.

“They're a good, footballing side, Prestwich, so it will show us where we are. I know we got beaten 6-0 when we didn't start off too well, but we've just got to take the next 90 minutes as they come.”