Cleckheaton enter a crucial spell of matches as they bid to climb the National League Three North table before the Christmas break.
An understrength Cleck side went down 62-13 at home to unbeaten league leaders Huddersfield last week and the Moorenders will hope captain Richard Piper has recovered from injury to take his place in the starting line-up when the side travel to high flying Wirral on Saturday (kick off 2.15pm).
Piper was one of four first team regulars ruled out of last week’s game against Huddersfield and they will hope to have a stronger side on duty at fourth placed Wirral, who are on a four match winning run.
Cleckheaton won 20-12 in their last encounter against Wirral in April and know victory would provide a timely boost ahead of two important fixtures before the Christmas break.
Piper’s absence allowed Luke Pearson to lead the side last week and, at the age of just 20 years old, became one of the club’s youngest first team captains.
Wirral were made to work hard before seeing off lowly Morley 29-3 last Saturday but they are six points behind second placed Rossendale and will provide a stern test for Scott Benton’s side.
Cleckheaton’s only home game in December sees them welcome Stockport to Moorend on Saturday week when they will be aiming to complete a league double over a side rooted to the foot of the table and destined for relegation after failing to take a single point from their opening 12 matches.
Cleckheaton recorded an emphatic 62-0 victory at Stockport in September and the return game precedes a pre-Christmas cracker when Benton returns to his former club Morley for what is sure to be a tasty derby.
Morley are second-bottom, nine points adrift of safety having lost their last 11 matches.
Cleckheaton’s 27-22 victory over Forwood Waterloo a fortnight ago means they are nine points clear of the relegation zone despite last week’s heavy defeat and they will target three wins before Christmas as they bid to put further daylight between themselves and the bottom three.
Cleckheaton Kestrels went down 40-0 away to Huddersfield’s second string last Saturday.
They have slipped to sixth place in the Yorkshire Merit Premiership table and will look to bounce back when they entertain Driffield, who are second-bottom with two wins from their eight matches.