171 DAYS have elapsed since Warrington Town last played at Cantilever Park.

A lot has happened since the ground erupted following Tom Warren’s late winner against Matlock Town on March 10 – Yellows’ final game of the 2019-20 season before coronavirus curtailed its conclusion.

As City of Liverpool visit for a pre-season friendly match tonight, there will be more signs that things are heading back to normality.

After the Government updated its Covid-19 guidelines relating to elite sport, up to 300 fans will be allowed inside the ground to watch the match and all available tickets have been snapped up

Yellows have played four pre-season games behind closed doors – a draw with Skelmersdale United and wins over Irlam, Tranmere Rovers and Lower Breck – so here’s a flavour of what fans can expect when they are reunited with their team.

Warrington Guardian:

The celebrations that followed Tom Warren's late winner against Matlock on March 10 – the last time there was a match at Cantilever Park. Picture by John Hopkins

New faces aplenty

Supporters will get the chance to familiarise themselves with plenty of new faces ahead of the new Northern Premier League campaign, which is due to start on September 19.

It will be their first chance to see the likes of Craig Carney, Joel Amado and Callum Grogan in yellow and all have shown positive signs during pre-season.

Midfielder Carney’s movement and tendency to ghost into goalscoring positions caught the eye at Lower Breck on Monday, a game in which he scored the opening goal.

Warrington Guardian:

Craig Carney in action against Lower Breck. Picture by John Hopkins

Grogan looks a composed figure at the back while Amado’s pace and willingness to bomb forward from left-back have caught the eye.

Defender Matt Regan, who was registered just before the shutdown last season, has been vocal and has an impressive range of passing while Town fans know all about Evan Gumbs from his three loan spells with the club.

Sadly, though, there will be no glimpse of Charlie Munro after the midfielder picked up a hamstring injury at Tranmere having impressed against Skelmersdale and Irlam.

Warrington Guardian:

Joel Amado. Picture by John Hopkins

Trialists looking to impress

As is often the case during pre-season, trialists have featured heavily in Town’s friendlies thus far.

Five started the game against Lower Breck on Monday, including graduates of the FEFA Academy headed up by former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, with whom Yellows have a formal partnership.

One area in which trialists have been prominent is in goal – Town do not have a goalkeeper registered after Tony McMillan left the club at the end of last season.

Two keepers are currently training with the club and have featured in friendlies, so we may be a step closer to finding out who will start the campaign in Town’s number one shirt.

Mackreth looks fit and firing

Another takeaway from pre-season so far is that Yellows’ flying winger Jack Mackreth looks incredibly sharp.

He has three goals in the four games and while goals and results are often of secondary importance to fitness gained at this stage, Mackreth is looking lean and in superb shape.

Mackreth has been used centrally as well as in his usual spot on the right flank and has been equally dangerous in both positions.

If he can carry this sort of form into the new season, Town’s rivals had best be on high alert.

Warrington Guardian:

Jack Mackreth has been in excellent pre-season form. Picture by John Hopkins

Change in system?

The significant bolstering of Yellows’ defensive ranks has opened up the possibility of a change in formation at Cantilever Park.

Centre-half options are now pretty plentiful – Grogan and Gumbs have joined Regan and skipper Mark Roberts as options and they may yet be re-joined by Dave Raven, who is weighing up whether or not to continue playing.

Assistant manager Mark Beesley told us a few weeks ago that a switch to a system incorporating three centre-halves is something they are considering.

They are yet to use it in any of their four friendlies, so could they give it a try tonight and beyond?

Warrington Guardian:

Could Callum Grogan form part of a back three for Town? Picture by John Hopkins

Old faces looking to make an impression

There will certainly be a look of the familiar about tonight’s opponents.

City of Liverpool are managed by ex-Yellows hero Craig Robinson – scorer of THAT FA Cup goal against Exeter City in 2014 – and have a host of former Warrington players in their ranks.

Tony Gray – Town’s top goalscorer in each of the past three seasons – makes a quick return to Cantilever Park while centre-half Jay McCarten, who played for Town in their 2014-15 FA Cup run and 2015-16 promotion season, is also with the Purps.

Karl Wills, Gerard Kinsella, Jamie McDonald, Liam Hynes, Louis Corrigan and Dom Reid are also part of Robinson’s squad.

Warrington Guardian:

Former Town striker Tony Gray makes a quick return to Cantilever Park with new club City of Liverpool tonight. Picture by John Hopkins