Holker Old Boys will be looking to build on the momentum on their successful end to last season when they open their new campaign in the North West Counties League against AFC Darwen tomorrow.

The Stags managed to recover from a nightmare opening to the previous year, which saw them pick up just one point from their first 13 games in the First Division North, which led to Guy Heffernan being replaced as manager.

Under player-boss Kevin Watkin, Holker managed to avoid the drop with a game to spare, with striker JP Stanway’s goals going a long way to securing safety and ensuring they enter the new season feeling optimistic.

Watkin said: “Obviously, we had a lot of pressure on us in the back end to the season because of the situation we put ourselves in, but we picked up points with some good results.

“It’s generally the same set of lads, although we’ve got a few additions to make us that little bit stronger, so it’s only positive.

“There’s plenty to build on how we finished last year, where we showed we were capable of getting results when it mattered and that said a lot about us mentally, so we just want to build on that and show you can do a full season of it.”

Holker have made a handful of signings to try and ensure a less fraught campaign this time around, with their additions including a 17-year-old forward who was on a first-team contract at Barrow AFC at the end of last season.

Watkin said: “Kane Fitch has come from Dalton and he’s got a lot of experience for his age. He’s a tough character and he’s a physical presence at centre-half.

“Josh Woodend is a bonus for us because he was out for a lot of last year with a serious knee injury and in pre-season he’s been outstanding - it’s like having a brand new player.

“We’ve managed to talk Tommy Dawson into it as well - his brief experience with Barrow has shown there’s a natural talent about the lad.”

Watkin won’t be at the Stags’ match against Darwen at Rakesmoor Lane as he is attending a friend’s wedding in Cyprus.

Elsewhere on the opening day of the season, Vickerstown begin at home to Coppull United in the Premier Division of the West Lancs League, while Hawcoat Park will look for a successful start against Stoneclough.