Villa played their first game since December 5 on Saturday, and carried on where they left off as they beat Eagley 1-0 away from home.
It could have been a different story had keeper Shaun Gibbs not batted away Heath Ainscow’s spot kick just before half-time.
Former Bamber Bridge striker Greg Johnstone made mis-firing Eagley pay on his return from injury, as his powerful 55th-minute diving header fired Villa to a 1-0 victory.
McDonnell said: “I’ve never known a winter like it.
“It was great to get playing again.
“Right on half-time Eagley were awarded a penalty for an alleged handball in the box by Ryan Thompson.
“I thought it was a controversial decision.
“Shaun made a fantastic save to stop the penalty and keep it 0-0.
“Then Danny Marland crossed the ball in from the right wing and Greg Johnstone launched himself through the air and scored with a diving header.
“Byron Andrew could have finished the game off – he had a great chance but their keeper made a good save.
“They had a couple of late chances but we deserved the win. It was a good start to the new year.”
McDonnell is also looking to strengthen his fifth-place side over the next few weeks.
He said: “Our new signing Rob Walker came off the bench and did well on his debut against Eagley.
“We should be bringing in Lewis Grimshaw from Coppull and a couple of other signings.
“He’s a good young player.”
Euxton’s West Lancs League Premier Division rivals Charnock Richard suffered cup heartbreak after they narrowly missed out on a place in the Lancashire Amateur Shield final.
Charnock were 3-1 up, but Rovers fought back to score twice in the last 20 minutes to draw 3-3 at Bamber Bridge’s Sir Tom Finney Stadium, and eventually knock Charnock out of the competition in a tense penalty shoot-out. Charnock started brightly, and David Burrows had a chance saved by keeper Alex Cameron in the first minute.
Charnock took the lead in the 14th minute as Burrows’ shot deflected in off the keeper. Mike Fletcher’s towering header sailed wide from a free kick before Wrens equalised in the 18th minute.
Lewis Swarbrick gave away a penalty with a mistimed tackle, and Danny Morris made no mistake from the spot.
Charnock restored their lead in the 28th minute as Burrows diverted a Woods free kick home. Four minutes later, a cross from Bibby resulted in a mad scramble almost on the goalline. Carl Grimshaw’s header hit the bar, and Fletcher followed up by slicing the rebound over. But Charnock did increase their lead in the 56th minute as Adams’s cross from the right connected with Chris Morris, and the ball squeezed in at the far post.
Chris Glynn made it 3-2 in the 72nd minute, and Morris nodded in a free kick to level the tie in the 80th minute.
Charnock searched for a winner, but the game went to penalties. Danny Smith put Charnock in the lead with the first penalty, and keeper Gavin Bates then saved Greenall’s effort. There were successful penalties for Spencer Bibby, Ross O’Farrell and Alex Randell for Charnock, and with Glynn, Morris and Gary Pett finding the net, it meant that Grimshaw only had to score to put the Villagers through. Cameron was up for the occasion and beat out Grimshaw’s shot. Then Fletcher saw his penalty saved and Clark netted to put Wren Rovers through.