Weekend preview - Saturday 23rd/Sunday 24th March 2019
Fri 22nd March 2019 | General | By Patrick Burke
After a couple of weeks affected by wet weather, the more promising forecast for this Saturday suggests it could be all systems go in the Hallmark Security League.
Northwich Victoria take on Chertsey Town in the Buildbase FA Vase Semi-Final first leg on Sunday, and we have two First Division Cup ties at the same stage – both postponed from last weekend.
In an all First Division North clash, Bacup Borough host Avro. The hosts have perhaps been the worst affected by the recent weather as they have suffered building damage at the Brian Boys West View Stadium.
Hopefully the hard work of everyone will have the ground ready for an intriguing tie as 7th plays 2nd. Bacup have won back-to-back games, whilst Avro’s 4-0 thrashing of AFC Blackpool on Tuesday was their 12th from 13 outings in 2019, moving them within four points of top spot.
The other semi-final sees Carlisle City, sitting 6th in the North, take on Sandbach United, the South’s last representatives.
City’s form has been very indifferent of late, but they triumphed 1-0 at Nelson in their last match, whilst Sandbach sit 7th in the table, with Tuesday’s 3-1 win at St Martins extending their unbeaten run to eight in all competitions.
In the Premier Division, City of Liverpool have had their lead at the top cut to two points (though they have now played a game less than Bootle), but go in search of a fifth successive win at home to Hanley Town.
The visitors are 18th, but a crucial 4-0 victory at Abbey Hey last time out sees them four points above the bottom two.
Bootle participated in one of just two Premier Division fixtures that beat the weather last weekend, overcoming Whitchurch Alport 3-1 to make it 15 consecutive victories in the league.
They travel to Barnoldswick Town, who have slipped down to 9th after losing their last five and winning just one from ten in all competitions.
Runcorn Town remain 5th after some mixed recent form, but Paul McManus’ side will hope to build on a fine win at Congleton Town last time out when they visit Squires Gate.
The home team are 10th, but have won their last two games by three goal margins.
After an increasingly rare league defeat at Bootle last time out, 6th placed Ashton Athletic will hope to recover their strong recent run at home to Irlam. The visitors sit 13th having won only one of their last six matches.
7th placed Charnock Richard eased past Winsford United 6-2 a fortnight back, and will hope for another prosperous afternoon at Abbey Hey.
Having lost six of their last seven, time is running out for the division’s bottom club to claw back the 11 point deficit to safety.
A 3-0 victory over West Didsbury & Chorlton last weekend made it two wins from three for 8th placed Burscough, who travel to Whitchurch Alport.
The hosts are 14th, and have won two and lost two of their last four games.
1874 Northwich in 11th are on a run of four wins from five, and go to a Silsden side sitting just a place and a point below them.
This will be the home team’s first game for a month, when an impressive 4-1 triumph over Congleton Town made it three victories out of four.
Having lost their last three games, 15th placed Litherland REMYCA will hope for a boost when they visit Winsford United.
REMY are comfortably 12 points clear of the bottom two, but Winsford in 17th are only four above the dotted line having won just one of their last 11.
And lastly is a huge game in the relegation battle as West Didsbury & Chorlton welcome Padiham.
West are second from bottom and four points adrift of safety having lost their last five, and you sense that getting a result from this game could be crucial to boosting their survival prospects.
The visitors have played three games less than their opponents but are only five points clear of them; their last match saw them end a 14 game winless run with a huge three points at Hanley.
In the First Division North, Longridge Town would restore their seven points lead at the summit with victory over visiting Steeton.
Longridge are unbeaten in 11, but were held to a 4-4 draw at St Helens Town last weekend, whilst Steeton are on a 12 game winless streak which has seen them drop to 16th.
There is an exciting looking clash at the top where 5th placed Prestwich Heys host 3rd placed Lower Breck.
The form of Longridge and Avro means that promotion looks unlikely for both this season, but that hasn’t stopped the visitors winning ten of their last 12 league games – including a 7-1 thrashing of Holker Old Boys last weekend – nor Prestwich ending a run of just once victory from six by triumphing 5-1 at Nelson last time out.
Garstang in 8th had won back-to-back games before losing 4-3 in a thrilling contest at AFC Liverpool on Wednesday, so will hope to bounce back away at Ashton Town.
The hosts are 12th, and had won three out of four games prior to going down 6-1 at Lower Breck a fortnight back.
9th placed Shelley play their first game for a month when they host Atherton LR. Ash Berry’s team have taken two wins and a draw from their last three, whilst LR’s chances of escaping the drop look increasingly remote as seven successive defeats leave them 16 points from safety.
AFC Darwen sit 10th in the table as a defeat at Bacup three weeks back ended their run of back-to-back wins.
They visit Holker Old Boys, whose promising form was halted with that 7-1 loss at Lower Breck last Saturday which leaves them 18th and six points above the bottom two.
Despite playing just three league matches since 19 January, Cleator Moor Celtic remain in 11th place, although they have won just one of their last seven.
They welcome Chadderton, who are 14th but ended a five games winless streak by edging past Steeton last time out.
In the First Division South, it’s a big weekend with six of the title-chasing top eight facing off.
It’s currently Rylands who are four points clear at the top having played the joint fewest games of the contenders.
However they have taken just one point from their last two league matches, and lost in the Liverpool Senior Cup Semi-Final to Southport in their last outing.
The leaders will hope to get back on track at Barnton, who are 12th and had a run of three wins out of four ended with a 2-0 reverse against Vauxhall Motors two weeks back.
Rylands’ two closest challengers on 60 points meet in Staffordshire as Stone Old Alleynians welcome Wythenshawe Amateurs.
The hosts are 2nd, but last week’s shock 8-0 defeat at Stockport Town followed up a goalless draw with FC Oswestry Town in their last home game.
The Ammies are 3rd but have two games in hand on their opponents, and got back to winning ways with a 4-0 victory at St Martins after a three game winless run.
The two sides immediately below them also meet as 4th placed Vauxhall Motors host 5th placed Wythenshawe Town.
Vauxhalls have won six of their last seven games, whilst Town are a place and a point behind their opponents but have triumphed in four of their last five.
And it’s 6th vs 8th when FC Oswestry Town face Abbey Hulton United. Oswestry ran out 5-0 winners at Stone Dominoes last weekend to make it five wins and a draw out of six, whilst Abbey Hulton – who are only a point behind their opponents – ended a run of just one victory from seven last time out by seeing off Eccleshall.
Cheadle Heath Nomads in 9th and St Martins in 10th wrap up the top half, and although both have dropped out of the title race after promising starts, the hosts will be in buoyant mood after beating Wythenshawe Amateurs and Rylands in their last two.
St Martins meanwhile have lost their last two against the Ammies and Sandbach.
Despite their strong form of late, 11th placed Stockport Town’s 8-0 thrashing of Stone Old Alleynians last week was a stunning result, and made it six league wins out of seven.
Alan Lord’s men travel to Eccleshall, who are 15th but have been strong at home recently, taking seven of the last nine points on offer, although their last six matches have also featured three away defeats.
After winning just one of their last eight, 12th placed Cheadle Town will hope to build on a 2-2 draw at Sandbach when they visit Cammell Laird 1907.
Lairds are 17th, and although they have lost three of their last four, their last home match saw them record a club record 8-1 win over Stone Dominoes.
Maine Road in 14th responded to their first two defeats under Ray Barnett and Jeff Newman in perfect fashion with a 2-1 success at New Mills a fortnight ago, and seek another at home to Ellesmere Rangers.
The 19th placed visitors have lost six of their last seven, so need to put an end to that run to cut the 11 point gap to safety.
And last but not least, Alsager Town in 18th seek to stop their 15 game winless run when they host bottom side Stone Dominoes, who are 14 points behind them at the foot of the table and have now lost 17 of their last 18 games.
There are important games all across the North West this weekend, so go and support your local club!