Division One Preview - 18th February 2017
Fri 17th February 2017 | General | By Gary Langley
Despite the midweek dramas in the Premier Division this week it's still not possible to take your eyes off the battles in Division One at present which has been just as exciting as the Step 5 sides chase for glory. It's still a brace observer who would accurately predict the two plus one who will be promoted at this stage.
Looking at this weekends fixtures one of the games of the weekend sees Widnes play Litherland REMYCA at the Select Security Stadium in a battle of two of the promotion favourites. For Widnes, who have struggled to rack the games up quick enough this is an ideal opportunity to peg back one of the sides above them as they look to make the games in hand count.
The Remy will have a lot to say about this though as Widnes has been a happy hunting ground for them over the last couple of seasons. Widnes are a different kettle of fish this season as we know, however, Phil Stafford's charges have been in superb form clocking up eight straight wins and unbeaten in eleven. They're all league games too I hasten to add so they are producing the goods when it counts.
Whitchurch Alport have slipped a bit recently by their own standards and have found themselves in third place in the table, although level on points with the side currently in second spot. They welcome Atherton LR to Yockings Park this weekend and the Shropshire side will be looking to put the disappointment of their midweek exit from the Shropshire County Cup, the TJ Vickers Premier Cup, narrowly going out 1-0 to Step 4 side Market Drayton at the Semi-Final stage.
Atherton LR are currently 19th in the table, eight points clear of the drop zone but are not in the best of form, one win and six defeats in their last seven league games tells a story, however the one win was against fellow relegation strugglers Eccleshall. This one looks a home banker on paper but we know how things go at this time of the season so Whitchurch will need to be on top of their game if they are to turn form into points.
Charnock Richard havce dropped off the Automatic promotion radar of late with a series of onconsistent results but they are still very much in contention and have a few games in hand on all of the sides above them. Charnock caught the eye in midweek with an impressive 4-2 win over Widnes which really put them right back into the mix. They travel to Stockport Town who themselves are still in contention although they whill have a job to bridge the twelve point gap between themselves and the current play-off contenders but a win over the weekend would certainly make a statement of intent.
Bacup Borough Manager Brent Peters was full of praise for his squad last week, this despite them going down 0-2 away at high flying Widnes. Borough apparently put in a decent performance against the Halton side and that should put them in good stead this weekend too. They host another promotion contender in Alsager Town who played them only a few weeks back on their own ground running out 5-0 winners. This may well be a different proposition this weekend although Alsager will be keen to rack up some points to keep the aformentioned Widnes at bay who are only two points and one place behind them in seventh.
Chadderton welcome Carlisle City to the ARK Fleetech Stadium on Saturday for the first competitive meeting between the two sides. Only a few points seperate these clubs in mid-table although Chadderton are in cracking form at the moment, unbeaten in their last four, three stratight wins and scoring sixteen goals over that period.
Another first meeting happens at The Venue as FC Oswestry Town host Holker Old Boys. Oswestry have slipped out of play-off contention of late and go into this game on three stratght defeats whilst the vistors aren't fayring much better at present.
Prestwich Heys are still just about in contention for the play-offs and they welcome Daisy Hill to the Adie Moran Stadium this weekend. Heys had a busy run out at Remyca in mid-week and have been impressive of late, whilst Daisy Hill's 2-1 win at home to Eccleshall last weekend was their first win in any competition since the beginning of December.
Sandbach United welcome St Helens Town to the Sandbach Community Football Centre and will be looking to consolidate their play-off position and go into this game on the back of three straight wins whilst St Helens Town look to recover from the surprising 2-6 defeat by Silsden last weekend.
One of the biggest games this weekend is at the lower end of the table as AFC Blackpool face Ashton Town at the Mechanics Ground. Ashton Town are sixteen points clear of what would be a dramatic escape and this game for them is an absolute must-win. Likewise for AFC Blackpool, they have been hovering just above the trap door for most of the season so as great as the need for Ashton Town for thr points, AFC Blackpool will see this also as an essential three points that could really start to put some daylight between themselves and that dotted blue line. To use a cliche' its a proper six-pointer.
Eccleshall are another of the clubs who are in some bother in the table at the moment and if they are to close the eight point gap up between them and the safety line they will need to take all three points from their game against Cheadle Town this weekend. That is going to be a big ask as Cheadle have only lost one of their last eight games and they are currently fourth in the Divisional form table, tenth in the league table. They will be looking at their poor start to the season and wondering what could have been.
City of Liverpool returned to the automatic promotion places last weekend but were made to work hard by lowly Atherton LR last time out, scraping through with a 1-0 win on the day. A win is a win though and this weekend they are at home to Silsden and will be keen to keep the points coming in as over the next couple of weeks they face Widnes twice in cup games and fellow promotion chasers, Charnock Richard and Sandbach in League fixtures.
Silsden are two games unbeaten and raised many an eyebrow last weekend winning 6-2 away at St Helens Town. The Cobbydalers are comfortably in mid-table at the moment and on their day are more than capable of turning over any side in the division.
That rounds up a busy schedule for the First Division, like with the Premier Division schedule, there are a number of sides playing clubs near them in the table, however its the games at the very tip and very bottom of the table that are likely to really catch the imagination this weekend.