Weekend Round Up - Saturday 29th April 2017
Sun 30th April 2017 | General | By Patrick Burke
An unforgettable season of thrills and spills which has made supporters up and down the North West experience every emotion possible drew to a close on Saturday. Fittingly, the final round of fixtures featured 98 goals in a full schedule across the two divisions!
This weekend saw the final game for Premier Division champions Atherton Collieries before they ascend into the Evo-Stik League as they hosted 3rd placed Runcorn Town.
It looked as though three points were going to supplement the party atmosphere at the Kensite Stadium, Jordan Cover breaking the deadlock with eighteen minutes to play, but two goals in the last two minutes from Craig Cairns – his 52nd of an extraordinary campaign – and Joe Holt secured Chris Herbert’s Town a league double over the title winners.
Colls’ nearest rivals were Bootle, but they too were unable to round off a fantastic season by adding to their points tally, West Didsbury & Chorlton running out 5-3 victors at the Delta Taxis Stadium.
It was 2-2 at the break: Ben Steer put West ahead and then Liam Loughlin and Jamie Hay overturned the deficit before Matthew Kay equalised. Hay – on his final appearance for the Bucks – restored their advantage, but a brace from Kay and a goal from Ashley Woods wrapped up 6th place for West.
4th placed Runcorn Linnets showed just far they have come with an 8-0 thrashing of AFC Darwen. There was a hat-trick for Anthony Hickey, including two in the first eight minutes, two from Kyle Hamid and a goal each for Paul Shanley and Stuart Wellstead before an ending that the home fans wanted!
Adam Wade, playing his last game for Linnets, struck with a minute to go as his team finished on a high.
1874 Northwich in 5th completed their season with a 2-1 home victory over relegated Nelson. First-half goals from Joseph Woolley and Jack Lever did the trick, although a young Admirals team made it a nervy finish when Cameron Lancaster struck on 80 minutes.
Padiham also took three points on their own turf, a goal either side of half-time from Mark Coyne seeing off the challenge of Barnton, whose excellent debut in the Premier Division saw them take 17th place.
Irlam, also promoted last season, picked up their ninth win from their final twelve games as they triumphed 5-2 at bottom side Cammell Laird 1907. Liam Morrison and Marcus Perry had Irlam two up at the interval, and two became four thanks to a double from John Main.
A couple of stunning Kieran Hamm goals gave Lairds some consolation, though they were separated by an equally marvellous strike from Morrison for the visitors.
Two early goals from Marcus Cusani and Luke Holden wrapped up 9th place for Ashton Athletic at Maine Road, who finished in 15th spot.
AFC Liverpool and Hanley Town shared the spoils to end the campaign in 12th and 10th respectively. The Reds took the lead through Connor Grainger, but back came Hanley through Josh Thorpe and Dan Cope. Michael White’s penalty midway through the second half saw the match finish 2-2.
Barnoldswick Town’s remarkable end to the season continued as they edged an encounter with Winsford United. Ben Gorman fired Barlick ahead, and although Andrew Keogh levelled things up for 13th placed Winsford, Zack Dale restored the hosts’ lead to ensure a top half finish and momentum going into the Macron Cup final.
As far as Congleton Town are concerned, they saved their best until last with a 6-1 trouncing of Abbey Hey. Richard Bailey, Callum Gardner and Brian Matthews had already scored once and Declan Fletcher twice by the time the away team replied from the spot through Jack Tanning. Matthews’ late sixth topped off a convincing win which saw the Bears rise to 16th and Abbey remain 14th.
To conclude the Premier Division for 2016/17, New Mills and Squires Gate played out an exciting 3-3 draw at Church Lane. Nathan Neequaye had the Millers in front, but Tarren Moxon hit back immediately after the restart.
An own goal and Neequaye’s second seemed to have the already-relegated hosts set for a third win from their last four, but late goals from Moxon and Jacob Higham denied them that as Gate ultimately finished seven points but just one place above their opponents.
Into the First Division, and it was a day that will go down in history for both Widnes and Charnock Richard.
Joey Dunn’s Widnes, already assured of top spot, relied on a Kevin Towey hat-trick to come from behind to overcome Daisy Hill 3-1, and after the game they could deservedly celebrate as they were presented with the First Division trophy.
As for Charnock, they made mathematically certain of automatic promotion with a 3-2 win at mid-table St Helens Town – a fine achievement in their first ever campaign at this level.
Michael Chojnicki had Town ahead, but Jonathan Hession responded for Andy Westwell’s men, and a brace from Carl Grimshaw set them on their way and made him the division’s sole leading marksman. Andy Gillespie halved the deficit with five to go, but it was never going to take the shine off a famous afternoon for the visitors.
Litherland REMYCA wrapped up 3rd and a ‘home route’ through the play-offs with a 2-0 victory against Holker Old Boys. David Flynn and Tom Foley got the goals which did the job for REMY.
That result meant that City of Liverpool had to settle for 4th place, despite winning 2-1 at Bacup Borough. A penalty from Matthew Williams and a finish from Elliot Nevitt ensured home advantage in their play-off semi-final against Whitchurch Alport next Saturday, though Rio Wilson-Heyes grabbed a late consolation for Bacup.
On the topic of Alport, they too will go into the play-offs on the back of a useful 2-1 away win, a double from Alex Hughes enough to see off Prestwich Heys. Lee O’Brien’s penalty was too little too late for the hosts, but 8th place represents a respectable first campaign back at this level.
Sandbach United will be very content with a play-off berth after moving into the Hallmark Security League this season, but lost 3-1 at home to Stockport Town in their final game of the regular season. Reece Gray and an Aaron Dwyer double secured maximum points for the Lions after going behind to Aaron Knight’s goal.
Alsager Town finished a place outside the top six, but saw their recent return to form ended with a 2-1 defeat at AFC Blackpool. Joseph Howell put the Bullets in front on 50 minutes, but goals from Richard Tomlinson and Ben Duffield handed the hosts only their second win at the Mechanics Ground this season.
The day’s biggest winners were 9th place Chadderton, who recorded a 9-0 rout at home to second-from-bottom Eccleshall.
It took until 34 minutes for Andrew Bainbridge to open the scoring, but Aaron Scholes doubled Chaddy’s lead at the midway stage. Matthew Crothers made it 3-0, and six goals in the final 20 minutes, including three from Gareth Hill, drew the season to a close in perfect fashion for Mark Howard’s team.
Cheadle Town came out on top in a middle of the pack clash, a brace from Rhys Webb and a late third from Dave Smith ending their season on a high at Silsden.
There was also some joy for an Ashton Town side who may have propped up the table for most of the season, but have always shown plenty of spirit. Marvin Molyneux’s last minute penalty – his second goal of the match - saw Town win 3-2 against Carlisle City.
And last but not least, the damage was done for Atherton LR in the first half at FC Oswestry Town, Callum Cranbrook, Thomas Rowlands and Craig Harris putting the hosts three to the good. Alex Guest got one back for the visitors, but couldn’t prevent a 3-1 defeat for the side who finished third from bottom.
It’s been a season that so many of our clubs will never forget, and no more so than Atherton Collieries and Widnes, who will fight it out in pastures new next season after winning their respective championships. Congratulations to both, and we all look forward to doing it all again in August!