KNUTSFORD co-manager Jordan Gunter admits he expected Reds to be higher in the Cheshire League’s Premier Division table at Christmas.

However he told the Guardian that a young side, which includes only Scott Beattie from one that won a historic double last season, is improving.

They’re gaining valuable experience too.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” said Gunter.

“It’s a new team, and a new project.

“The name is about the only thing that hasn’t changed, but just because we’re still Knutsford doesn’t mean we’ll carry on winning like before.”

Reds sit 11th before a trip to Poynton on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.

A 3-0 win against FC St Helens last time out restored confidence dented by heavy defeats at Whaley Bridge (2-5) and Pilkington (1-4).

Before that they had celebrated a stunning success in the Association of Northern Counties FA Senior Cup, eliminating Hull-based Chalk Lane in a semi-finals encounter.

It’s a fortnight that captures nearly the peaks and troughs of a campaign that is the first in joint charge for Gunter and Jamie Mottershead.

“We’ve turned up for the big games,” said the former.

“However it’s been a wake-up call that we have to meet those standards every week.

“We’ve perhaps shown immaturity at times, and that’s been costly, but we’re learning as a management team as well.

“It’s a test for us as well because we’re not used to losing so many games!”

There are reasons for cheer.

Goalkeeper Callum Spencer has been among Knutsford’s most consistent performers while Bradley West has scored 15 goals at the point of their attack.

Emerging young talent like Sam Croft, Tom Jackson, Nathan Okome and Milan Thompson have all impressed too.

However Gunter told the Guardian that losing midfielder Rory Fallon to Wythenshawe Amateurs, who play in the North West Counties League, has been a blow.

He said: “Rory was exactly the sort of guy we needed; an experienced player who is assured on the ball and makes everybody around him feel calm.

“A team with young lads really benefits from having somebody like that around.”

He is optimistic that the benefit from putting faith in those players now will be felt later.

It helps that the club’s committee, as well as their supporters, are prepared to be patient.

Gunter added: “We expected things to take time, and we still feel that way.

“It’s been a challenge, but knowing we have the backing of everybody around the place makes a difference.”