TABLE-topping boss Kenny Langford believes his AFC Darwen side can hit the second half of the season running as they bid to stay out in front – but he knows the Salmoners can’t afford to take their eye off the ball if they are to win promotion.

Langford has led the ambitious Anchor Ground club to the summit of the North West Counties League First Division and takes them on the short journey down the M65 tomorrow for their derby with Nelson at Victoria Park.

And the manager wants his players to keep up the hard work and application, despite the Admirals position in the table.

Nelson have won just once since August but that 3-0 success over Holker Old Boys and recent displays suggest they are turning the corner and Langford warned: “As leaders we are there to be shot down and it will be a hard game.

“We have been a bit stop start with the weather recently but we had a good win over Northwich last week and, touch wood, we are back on track.

“It’s been hard work to get to where we are and now the challenge is to stay there and see where it takes us.”

Darwen make the short trip with a full-strength squad to select from, while Nelson boss Mark Fell has also boosted his ranks by snapping up Australian Nicky Orr on a short-term deal.

Orr, who used to be on the books of South Australian Super League club Raiders, has been on trial with Accrington Stanley and goes straight into Fell’s squad for the derby.

Ex-Stanley man Chris Turner is also available as his ban for a red card received last weekend in the defeat at Atherton has not kicked in yet.

In the North West Counties League Premier Division Barnoldswick Town host Runcorn Linnets and Colne entertain Congleton.

Bacup Borough head to Maine Road tomorrow and Padiham are away at Stockport Sports.

Chorley host Blyth Spartans in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division, while Clitheroe go to Goole and Ramsbottom United host New Mills in First Division North.