Weekend preview - Saturday 16th March 2019
Fri 15th March 2019 | General | By Patrick Burke
Mid-March is always a crucial time just before the business end of the season in the Hallmark Security League, and this weekend is no different.
Northwich Victoria face the first leg of their Buidlbase FA Vase semi-final against Chertsey Town, and there are two First Division Cup semi-finals as well as fixtures in all three divisions to look forward to.
We’ll start at Bacup Borough, who host the first leg of their tie in the last four of the First Division Cup against Avro.
Bacup have twice finished as runners-up in this competition but are yet to claim the trophy, and they come into this one in a good place in the league as they sit 7th and have won back to back games.
Fellow First Division North side Avro sit 2nd, and closed the gap to Longridge Town to six points with a 5-0 midweek victory over Daisy Hill. They have won 11 of their last 12 outings, including a 3-0 success at Bacup three weeks ago.
The other semi-final sees Carlisle City take on Sandbach United. After a particularly rocky spell either side of Christmas, City have won three and lost three of their last six, climbing back up to 6th in the First Division North.
Sandbach are the First Division South’s last representatives, and have reached this stage for the third season running. They are 8th in the table and unbeaten in seven, although three of their last four have ended 2-2.
Onto the Premier Division, where City of Liverpool enter the last seven games needing to protect a five point lead at the top.
Four successive victories have certainly helped their cause, and next up is a home game against Barnoldswick Town.
The visitors are completely out of sorts at the minute, dropping from outside title contenders to 8th after a run of just one win from 10 and five straight defeats.
2nd placed Bootle’s 4-2 win over Ashton Athletic last week was their 14th on the bounce in the league, and they visit Whitchurch Alport looking to keep the pressure on at the summit.
Alport are 14th in the table, and after a shaky couple of months, have now won two of their last three matches.
Congleton Town remain 3rd, but have won just one of their last eight league games after going down 2-1 to Runcorn Town last weekend.
They will seek to return to form at home to Winsford United, who are 17th and arrive in need of points as one win from 11 in all competitions keeps them only four points above the bottom two.
Ashton Athletic in 6th meet Charnock Richard, who sit a place below them only on goal difference in an exciting looking contest at Brocstedes Park.
The Yellows had been the division’s form team prior to losing three of their last four (against the top two and Southport in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy), whilst last weekend’s 6-2 thrashing of Winsford made it two wins from three for the visitors.
9th placed Squires Gate have lost only one of their last six and won back-to-back games going into a trip to 1874 Northwich.
The home side are 11th, but have the chance to leapfrog their opponents if they can follow up their impressive run of four victories from their last five with another three points.
Sandwiched between the pair in 10th are Burscough, who went down 4-2 at 1874 last weekend and have won only one of their last five.
They host second bottom West Didsbury & Chorlton, who desperately need to halt their run of five defeats from six to close the four point gap to safety.
Irlam sit 13th and have won only one of their last six going into a home game against Hanley Town.
The visitors are 18th – only a place and four points above the dotted line having played a game more than West – but last Saturday’s 4-0 triumph at Abbey Hey was a huge three points and will have been a massive confidence boost.
A 1-0 win at Hanley a fortnight back ended 16th placed Padiham’s run of 13 games without a win – a big result which lifted them five points clear of the bottom two having played less than all the teams around them.
They will seek to follow it up at home to bottom side Abbey Hey, whose run of six defeats from seven leaves them 11 points adrift of safety.
In the First Division North, Longridge Town can take advantage of Avro being in cup action and move nine points clear at the top with victory away at St Helens Town.
The home side 18th with just one win from 12 leaving them five points above the bottom two (having played two less than Daisy Hill in 19th). Longridge, meanwhile, have taken 28 of the last 30 points on offer.
Lower Breck in 3rd have been in unstoppable form lately, winning five and drawing one of their last six, with their last two matches seeing them hammer AFC Blackpool 8-2 and Ashton Town 6-1.
They host 17th placed Holker Old Boys, who are the only team to beat them in their last 11 league outings – which they did in some style with a 6-2 success at Rakesmoor in January.
That result has constituted part of a run of three wins, a draw and two defeats from six tough matches, and helped put them six points clear of the bottom two.
AFC Liverpool sit 4th, and only had their run of eight consecutive league wins ended with a 3-3 draw at Holker a fortnight back.
They travel to Steeton, who are 16th but have already mathematically guaranteed their First Division North status for next season; they will, however, be keen to end a 12 game winless run.
After a run of just one victory from six, 5th placed Prestwich Heys got back to winning ways with a 5-1 success at Nelson two weeks ago.
They welcome Cleator Moor Celtic in a fixture that was postponed due to the weather last weekend. The visitors are 11th, but have triumphed in only one of their last seven.
Following a six game winless streak, 8th placed Garstang made it back-to-back victories by seeing off St Helens Town 3-1 last weekend.
They travel to Ashton Town, who sit 12th and had a run of three wins from four ended with a set-back at Lower Breck last Saturday.
15th placed Nelson had lost four games on the spin, so an 8-1 thrashing of Daisy Hill last weekend was the perfect tonic.
They will seek to build on that away at Atherton LR, whose difficult campaign leaves them 15 points from safety having lost their last seven games.
In the First Division South, table-topping Rylands’ 5-3 defeat to Cheadle Heath Nomads last weekend saw their lead cut to four points.
They lost 3-1 to Southport in the Liverpool Senior Cup semi-final on Tuesday despite an admirable performance, so will hope to get back to winning ways at home to New Mills.
It’s just one win from 11 for the 16th placed Millers, but the fact that it came recently against Abbey Hulton United shows what they are capable of.
Stone Old Alleynians sit 2nd having played a game more than Rylands, and were held to a 0-0 draw by FC Oswestry Town last time out.
They have, however, won four of their last five away matches as they travel to in-form Stockport Town.
The Lions sit 13th, but last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing of Ellesmere Rangers made it three on the bounce and five from their last six in the league.
3rd placed Wythenshawe Amateurs are three points behind Rylands on equal games, and ended a run of three games without victory by beating St Martins 4-0 last Saturday.
They host Eccleshall, who sit 15th having won two and lost two of their last four.
Abbey Hulton United in 6th take on Vauxhall Motors in 4th with the sides sitting seven and five points behind Rylands respectively (having each played a game more than them), so this looks an imperative fixture.
The home side beat Eccleshall 1-0 last weekend to end a run of one win from seven, whilst Vauxhalls triumphed 2-0 at Barnton to make it six victories out of seven.
In 5th place, Wythenshawe Town are six points off the top having played a game more, but have taken 13 points from the last 15 as they travel to Ellesmere Rangers.
The home side are 19th, and need to end a run of five losses from six to close the 11 point gap to safety in their remaining games.
FC Oswestry Town sit 7th – nine points off Rylands on equal games. The goalless draw at Stone Old Alleynians was a very respectable result but ended a run of four straight wins, so they will seek to restart that away at Stone Dominoes.
The division’s bottom club are 14 points from safety, and have lost 16 of their last 17.
After a run of just one victory from 11, Cheadle Heath Nomads have returned to form in some style, winning their last two against Wythenshawe Amateurs and Rylands to climb back up to 9th.
They travel to Cammell Laird 1907, who are 17th and have lost three of their last four – although recorded a club record 8-1 victory over Stone Dominoes in their last home game, and gave a good account of themselves in a 2-1 Cheshire Senior Cup semi-final defeat at Runcorn Linnets.
Cheadle Town are 11th and have won only one of their last eight, although did claim a decent 2-2 draw at Sandbach United last weekend. They host Alsager Town, who have slipped to 18th after a run of 15 games without a victory.
12th placed Barnton had a run of three wins from four ended by Vauxhall Motors last weekend, so will seek to bounce back away at Maine Road.
The hosts are 14th, but after back-to-back defeats, Ray Barnett and Jeff Newman made it seven victories from their first nine games in charge by overcoming New Mills 2-1 last Saturday.
After a week of downpours and more rain forecast, we could be at the mercy of the weather for this round of fixtures, but get down and support your local club!