GREAT Harwood slipped to their first loss in 21 North West Counties Division Two outings - and missed star striker Matty Derbyshire.
The teenager wasn't involved in Saturday's 2-0 loss to Cheadle as he was turning out for Blackburn Under 19s in their 2-1 win over Manchester United. Harwood, who were joint top but have dropped down to fifth, were also without striker Paul Mashiter.
"It was disappointing and we were missing some important players," said boss John Hughes. "But we were awful. It was just a bad all-round performance. In a way though it is a relief to lose one as everyone kept coming up and talking about us being the only unbeaten side in the league. That has gone now and we need to get another run going. If it gets to the end of the season and we have only lost that one then I will be happy!"
It is a big local derby at the Showground on Saturday with mid-table Padiham the visitors. Graham Howarth stepped down as manager to become assistant to former Burnley player Vince Overson at the Arbories last month and the Storks have picked up.
"Local derbies can go either way," said Hughes. "We have just got to go out and make sure we get all three points."
Despite the Cheadle loss, Harwood were boosted by their performance against UniBond side Lancaster on Monday night. They did lose 2-0 in the Lancashire Marsden FA Trophy but they were again without Derbyshire and Mashiter.
"They had two chances and took them both," said the Harwood boss. "The scoreline was flattering to them and it was a good test for the lads but really we weren't too down as we played well."
Hughes, however, is again worrying about his frontline on Saturday. He is without long term injury victim Jon Eastham. And Hughes wants Derbyshire to play for them although Rovers, Burnley and Everton are all keeping tabs on the forward and are wanting the teenager to have trials there.
"We want Matty to play for us, he is contracted to us, but, if clubs want him, we need them to come in with the money now."
Harwood travel to Atherton LR in the second round of the League Challenge Cup on weekend of December 6/7.