GOALKEEPER Fiona Battersby insists Kendal Ladies cannot afford to be slow out the blocks once the starting pistol for the remainder of the season sounds on Saturday.

The Investec Conference North hockey campaign resumes this weekend after its winter break with Kendal Ladies heading to Yorkshire to face fellow strugglers Ben Rydding.

With seven games left, Kendal Ladies are second-bottom in the league table and fighting for survival – their current position would lead to an end-of-season relegation play-off.

And having tasted life at this level, Battersby is refusing to contemplate anything other than Kendal hauling themselves clear of danger and maintaining their league status.

“If we want to avoid being in the relegation play-offs we absolutely have to take something from Saturday and that means at least one point if not three,” she said.

“We don’t want to leave it too late with us needing to take points from games against the top sides, we have to hit the ground running in the second half of the season.

“I couldn’t think of anything worse than being relegated and going back down now. If we did get relegated it would be really deflating.

“This is a fantastic level to play at, the speed of the game is great and it’s fantastic coming up against some really good sides.”

Apart from a friendly against Bowdon Ladies last month, Kendal have been without a fixture since late November when lowly Boots left Kirkie Kendal School with maximum points.

And while the 27-year-old admits the long lay-off has been frustrating in some respects, Battersby acknowledges the break has enabled the squad to work on certain weaknesses.

“The Boots game was a disastrous way to finish to be honest and it has seemed an awful long time to be able to put things right,” she added.

“During that time we have analysed where we can improve and what went wrong in certain games, looking at the matches moving forward in the hope of clinching more wins.

“We have developed that through training, our coach Jon Elleray has been really pushing new training drills in terms of strategy and tactics.

“We want to push our forwards higher up the field in the hope of scoring more goals while we are also well-drilled on how to respond quickly and adapt if we get caught on the back foot.

“We’re feeling positive and ready for action.”