Weekend preview - Friday 11th/Saturday 12th January 2019
Fri 11th January 2019 | General | By Patrick Burke
It’s another important weekend in the Hallmark Security League as the battles at the top and bottom of all three divisions hot up.
In the Premier, leaders City of Liverpool after recording their fifth win out of six in the league against Northwich Victoria on Tuesday.
Each of those have been by the odd goal, and it’s those kind of victories that can form the basis for league titles. Their next challenge is a trip to 10th placed Squires Gate, who are in decent form having won six of their last eight.
These sides met last weekend, with the Purps coming out 3-2 winners at the TDP Solicitors Stadium but not before Andy Clarkson’s team had taken a 2-0 lead, so both will be aware of the threat they can pose each other.
Congleton Town remain 2nd and have two games in hand on the leaders, but also face a tough assignment at home to Burscough.
The Bears were handed a rare defeat at 1874 Northwich last Saturday, but bounced back with a 6-1 thrashing of Sandbach United in the Cheshire Senior Cup.
As for the visitors, they sit 6th after an unbeaten streak in the league which stretched to nine matches following a fine 4-1 win at West Didsbury & Chorlton last time out.
Bootle are 3rd and currently the division’s form side having won their last six league outings, keeping clean sheets in five of those, including the 2-0 victory at Runcorn Town last week.
They entertain Whitchurch Alport, who moved up to 13th after ending a four game losing run by taking three points at Silsden last Saturday.
4th placed Barnoldswick Town were stunned last weekend as their nine game winning run was ended emphatically at home to Hanley Town, but they bounced back on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over Litherland REMYCA.
They host Charnock Richard, who have climbed to 7th after coming out on top in five of their last six league matches.
It’s now just one win in five for Runcorn Town, who have slipped down to 5th which makes Saturday’s trip to Litherland REMYCA a crucial one.
The hosts themselves are 15th and on a run of just one victory from their last seven.
One of the more intriguing match-ups comes at Brocstedes Park where Ashton Athletic in 8th welcome a Northwich Victoria side sitting just a place below them.
The Yellows have won their last four and conceded just once in that time, whilst Vics will surely still be on a high after reaching the last 16 of the Buildbase FA Vase with a fantastic triumph at Newcastle Benfield last weekend.
They have lost their last two in the league, but have played fewer than everyone except Barnoldswick.
1874 Northwich sit 11th in the table, but have lost only one of their last 12 in the league after beating Congleton last weekend.
They also ran Stockport County close in the Cheshire Senior Cup in the week, so will be full of confidence ahead of the visit of Irlam.
The away side are 14th having lost their last three in the league, but they too progressed to the last 16 of the Vase last weekend with a 4-0 hammering of Cadbury Athletic. They will hope for that to prove a catalyst for a return to form in the Premier Division.
The teams from 16th-19th are inactive this weekend, so the final Premier Division fixture sees 12th placed Silsden host bottom club Abbey Hey.
The Cobbydalers have lost four of their last five, whilst the visitors remain ten points from safety but are showing signs of improvement with a narrow 2-1 defeat at Charnock Richard last weekend following a welcome win at Irlam.
In the First Division North, Longridge Town extended their lead at the top to eight points on Wednesday by bagging the same number of goals against Daisy Hill in a fifth victory out of six.
They face a tricky-looking trip to AFC Darwen, who sit 7th but saw their own run of five wins from six ended with a 4-0 defeat at Chadderton last weekend. They did, however, win at Longridge in the reverse fixture, which will no doubt provide them with plenty of encouragement.
It’s now Avro in 2nd who look best placed to challenge Longridge, especially with their two games in hand. 3-0 away wins at Holker Old Boys and Nelson in the last week mean they have taken 25 of the last 27 points on offer in the league going into a trip to Ashton Town.
The hosts sit 15th after ending a four match winless run in some style by beating Steeton 5-2 last Saturday.
3rd placed Prestwich Heys made it seven league wins on the spin with a crucial injury-time winner against Carlisle City last weekend, and they travel to another side going well in AFC Liverpool. The hosts sit 5th, and have triumphed in their last three outings having edged out Nelson last weekend.
There is another clash between two high flyers in Cumbria as Carlisle City take on Lower Breck.
After such an excellent start to the campaign, James Tose’s hosts have now lost their last four and slipped to 4th, so they will hope to get back on track against opponents who themselves are 6th in the table.
It’s been a tale of two Lower Brecks of late – they have won their last eight on home soil, but none of their last five on the road. They will hope to transfer their form on their own patch into this game.
Bacup Borough have had a very decent season so far, sitting in 8th place, but they go into a home game against Atherton LR on the back of away defeats by the odd goal at Garstang and Darwen.
Visiting LR remain at the foot of the table five points from safety, but come into this one having claimed respectable draws at Daisy Hill and Ashton Town in their last two.
Just two points separate 11th placed Garstang and 9th placed Shelley as they meet at the Riverside. The hosts have won their last four having edged Wednesday’s thriller with Chadderton 5-4, so go into this one on a real high.
The visitors, meanwhile, are winless in five, although by all accounts gave leaders Longridge a good game in an eventual 2-1 defeat last Saturday.
10th placed Cleator Moor Celtic overcame St Helens Town 2-1 last weekend, so will seek to build on that away at Daisy Hill.
The home side sit second bottom, and have now claimed just one point from their last eight matches, so they will be seeking a result to end that run and cut the two point gap to safety.
Steeton have slipped to 12th after a run of five games without a victory, and next up for them is a trip to AFC Blackpool, who have climbed to 14th after winning two of their last three matches.
Chadderton had won five out of six prior to falling just short at Garstang in the week, but that run of form lifted them to 13th in the table.
They will target three points for the fourth game in a row at home when they welcome Holker Old Boys. The visitors are 18th and sit precariously just two points above the bottom two, so they will need to put an end to their run of four losses from their last five.
A six game unbeaten run for 16th placed Nelson was halted with back-to-back defeats to AFC Liverpool and Avro, so Andy Harrison’s men will hope to bounce back away at St Helens Town, with the hosts sitting a place below them having lost four of their last five.
Things remain far too close to call in the First Division South, with three teams now tied at the top on 50 points.
Despite having played the fewest number of games of those three, it’s currently Rylands who head the table as they returned to winning ways with a 6-0 triumph over Stone Dominoes last weekend.
They face a big test on Saturday away at Sandbach United, who sit 7th but could yet use their games in hand to force them into real contention.
They have lost just one of their last 16 league outings, but were denied all three points in the 98th minute by Wythenshawe Amateurs last week.
The Ammies are 2nd themselves, and could at least temporarily move top on Friday night away at Barnton.
Last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Sandbach maintained their six game unbeaten run, and they have lost only one of their last 14 in the league.
Hosts Barnton sit 12th, six points off the teams either side of them after making it back-to-back wins at home to Stockport Town last Saturday.
Abbey Hulton United in 3rd were denied a third straight win by an injury time Cheadle Town penalty last weekend, then lost 1-0 at Wolverhampton Casusals in the Staffordshire Senior Cup on Tuesday. Russ Leadbetter takes charge of his first league fixture away at 5th placed Wythenshawe Town.
The home side are only five points off the summit, but need a return to form having won only one of their last six.
Stone Old Alleynians have begun 2019 with 7-0 and 3-1 wins against New Mills and Eccleshall respectively, moving up to 4th within three points of top spot and extending their unbeaten run to nine games.
Next up is a visit from Cheadle Heath Nomads, who have slipped down to 8th after just one victory out of six.
Last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of Alsager Town means 6th placed Vauxhall Motors have lost only one of their last six going into a home fixture against Stone Dominoes.
Neil Price’s first two matches in charge of the division’s bottom club have ended in defeat at Rylands (6-0) and Ellesmere Rangers (1-0), so his new-look side will need results to cut the eight point gap to safety.
9th placed St Martins are without a victory in four but claimed a useful 3-3 draw in the derby against FC Oswestry Town on Tuesday night, so they will seek to build from that away at Alsager Town. The Bullets are 14th, and will be keen to end their current ten match winless run.
FC Oswestry Town are currently 10th – behind St Martins on goals scored – and are in action on Friday night as they seek to extend their unbeaten run to six at home to Eccleshall.
The Eagles picked up their first three points in five attempts away at Wythenshawe Town last weekend, but were beaten 3-1 at home by Stone Old Alleynians on Wednesday night to remain 15th.
The late equaliser at Abbey Hulton last weekend extended 11th placed Cheadle Town’s unbeaten run to six matches, and next up is a local derby against Stockport Town.
The visitors sit 13th in the table, and were beaten for the first time in four outings at Barnton last weekend.
There are some important clashes at the bottom of the table, with 16th placed New Mills seeking to end a six match winless run away at Ellesmere Rangers.
The second from bottom hosts appear rejuvenated, a first home win of the season on Tuesday against Stone Dominoes making it just one defeat from five and moving them to within four points of safety.
The two sides directly above them meet as 18th placed Maine Road host 17th placed Cammell Laird 1907.
The hosts began life under Ray Barnett and Jeff Newman with an excellent victory at St Martins last Saturday – ending a seven game losing streak – and have the chance to leapfrog their opponents with another here.
Lairds progressed through their eighth cup tie of the season by beating Alsager on penalties in the Cheshire Senior Cup on Tuesday, but that form has yet to be matched in the league: a 98th minute equaliser from visiting Ellesmere last week means they are hoping to end a nine game winless run in the First Division South.
The results in 2019 have already shown what tremendous value for money football in our League offers, so get down to your local club this weekend!