Weekend preview - Friday 9th/Saturday 10th/Sunday 11th November 2018
Fri 9th November 2018 | General | By Patrick Burke
It’s the Macron Cup’s turn to take centre stage in the Hallmark Security League this weekend, with 15 ties alongside a handful of fixtures in each division.
We have 30 teams looking to join Abbey Hulton United in the 3rd round, and with almost two-thirds of those coming from one of the First divisions, it looks a wide open competition this year.
There are only two all Premier Division ties, the first seeing table-topping City of Liverpool host Squires Gate.
The 2016 winners have won four of their last five, and triumphed 5-1 at Gate in the Buildbase FA Vase in September. The visitors’ promising start seems a long while back now, with three successive defeats in all competitions seeing them slip to 15th.
The other takes place at 1pm on Sunday, and looks a terrific contest between Northwich Victoria and Runcorn Town. Vics are 10th but have won six of their last eight, whilst Town are 3rd with three victories out of four.
The Purps’ closest challengers are Congleton Town, who have won six on the bounce - including an impressive Cheshire Senior Cup victory at Altrincham on Tuesday – and conceded just one goal in that time.
They travel to Stone Dominoes, who are second bottom in the First Division South after following up their first win in 13 attempts with a 7-1 reverse to Wythenshawe Town last Saturday.
Five consecutive victories with four clean sheets shows the extent to which Bootle’s form has now picked up as they sit 4th in the Premier Division.
They visit Cheadle Town, whose season has been the opposite story with a fast start fading into just one victory from their last eight which has them 11th in the First Division South.
At the Silentnight Stadium, two teams who received a bye through the First Round meet as Barnoldswick Town face Wythenshawe Amateurs. Matt Barnes’ Barlick are 5th in the top tier, returning to winning ways against West Didsbury & Chorlton last Saturday, but the Ammies are flying themselves in the First Division South, lying 2nd after taking 13 points out of 15 in the league.
1874 Northwich saw their hopes of a repeat of last year’s run to the Vase semi-finals ended at Newcastle Benfield last weekend, halting a five match unbeaten run for the team 11th in the Premier Division.
They will hope for greater success in the Macron Cup at home to AFC Blackpool, who are 12th in the First Division North but impressively eliminated Stone Old Alleynians in the last round.
Last year’s finalists Burscough are 14th in the Premier after some mixed results of late, and a home tie against Sandbach United looks a potential banana skin.
The visitors are 7th in the First Division South after losing just one of their last ten, but Burscough have won both matches against opposition from that league 5-1 this term.
West Didsbury & Chorlton are second bottom in the top tier after losing their last nine, and travel south to Eccleshall. The Eagles are 17th in the First Division South, their only victory from their last seven seeing them beat AFC Darwen 3-2 in this competition.
Bottom side Abbey Hey are the only other Premier Division club remaining in the competition, and they host an Atherton LR team who themselves now prop up the First Division North.
The hosts have lost twice since overcoming Daisy Hill on penalties in the last round, whilst LR received a bye to progress and have lost seven of their last eight matches.
The remaining six ties solely involve clubs from the First divisions.
South leaders Rylands seek an eighth win out of nine as they welcome Cheadle Heath Nomads in what should be a good match-up.
The visitors are 6th in the same division, but will hope to arrest a three match winless run; they caused an upset against higher-ranked Litherland REMYCA in the First Round.
One of the closest looking battles sees 3rd in the North meet 4th in the South as Avro entertain Wythenshawe Town. It’s four wins out of five for the hosts, including a Vase victory over Squires Gate last Saturday, whilst the visitors have shot up the table after claiming three points from five of their last six.
A derby is always special in the cup, and that looks to hold true for Cammell Laird 1907 versus Lower Breck. Lairds are 15th in the South, and were stunned 6-2 by Barnton last weekend, ending a promising run which included a 4-2 victory at St Martins in this competition.
The visitors are 5th in the North, winning their last four and scoring 25 – including a 9-0 thrashing of Holker Old Boys in the last round.
Just three points separate 7th and 8th in the North as Prestwich Heys host Cleator Moor Celtic.
It took Northwich Victoria 84 minutes of a Vase replay to get the better of Heys on Wednesday, with the hosts knocking out Whitchurch Alport in the last round of the Macron Cup. They face opponents who have won three of their last four, and shocked Winsford United 5-2 in their competition debut.
Fresh from a Lancashire Challenge Trophy penalties win against Evo-Stik First Division West outfit Atherton Collieries, Garstang travel to Stockport Town.
The Lions are 16th in the South after two wins from three, whilst their opponents sit 13th in the North and recorded one of the results of the last round to knock out Silsden 2-0 away from home.
The last tie sees Maine Road entertain Nelson. The hosts are 18th in the South but have proved a tougher nut to crack of late, whilst the Admirals occupy 17th place in the North but knocked out Hanley Town of the Premier Division in the last round.
Onto the league action, we have four fixtures in the top tier.
After a first win in four against Bedlington Terriers in the Vase last weekend, 6th placed Silsden will look to pick up where they left off against Irlam. The visitors are 13th but one of the league’s in form teams, and they recorded a superb Vase victory against Hemsworth Miners Welfare in their last outing.
8th placed Whitchurch Alport suffered a rare defeat against Litherland REMYCA last weekend, so will want to bounce back away at Ashton Athletic.
The Yellows are 16th, but hammered West Didsbury & Chorlton 5-0 in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy for a first win in five, and drew 1-1 at Yockings Park on opening day.
Litherland REMYCA against Padiham is a mid-table battle between 12th and 9th, whilst Hanley Town and Winsford United will seek to move away from the foot of the table with the sides currently occupying 17th and 18th respectively, though the visitors’ bad run was ended with a 2-0 victory at Squires Gate on Tuesday.
In the First Division North, 2nd placed Carlisle City will seek to close the seven point gap with leaders Longridge Town at home to Daisy Hill. The hosts, however, have won just one of their last five, whilst a couple of recent victories have moved the Daisies out of the bottom two to 18th.
4th placed Shelley can move up a place if they can pick up a fourth straight win away at Holker Old Boys. The hosts are 19th, but their results and performances have been improving of late, shown by the 1-0 triumph at Atherton LR last weekend.
6th placed AFC Liverpool will also hope to climb the table on Friday night at home to AFC Darwen. Both sides were relegated from the Premier Division last season, and the hosts recorded a first win in four at Chadderton last Saturday, whilst Darwen are 11th with just one victory from their last eight.
Bacup Borough’s excellent form has seen them climb to 9th, Brent Peters’ side’s only defeat in their last six league outings coming against Longridge.
They travel to 16th placed Chadderton on Saturday with David Fish’s men victorious in only one of their last five – although that saw them thrash Cleator Moor 6-1 a fortnight ago.
10th placed Steeton are winless in seven, but have claimed some decent draws in their last two and won the reverse fixture against opponents St Helens Town 6-4. The visitors are 15th having lost their last four.
Into the First Division South, and 3rd placed Abbey Hulton United will return to the summit with maximum points at Barnton. The Villagers are 10th after that impressive triumph at Lairds last weekend, whilst the visitors go into this one seeking a fourth consecutive victory.
5th placed St Martins can also climb a place if they can repeat the midweek 3-1 win against Cheadle Town at home to Vauxhall Motors.
The visitors are 12th, but have played less than everyone else and saw their losing streak come to an end with a respectable point at Sandbach on Wednesday. They also beat St Martins 4-3 in the reverse fixture in September.
And lastly, only goal difference separates 13th placed Alsager Town and 14th placed New Mills. The Bullets had won back-to-back games prior to losing to Ellesmere Rangers last weekend, whilst the Millers ended an eight match winless run by inflicting only the second defeat on Stone Old Alleynians in the league.
Another enticing looking round of fixtures, so it’ll be well worth braving the increasingly chilly afternoons to take in a game!