DROYLSDEN will be hoping to bounce back from two crushing defeats against leaders Warrington Town on Saturday in the Evo-Stik First Division North (KO 15:00 GMT).
The Bloods suffered an 8-2 defeat on the road against second-placed Northwich Victoria last weekend before conceding another eight without reply at Brighouse Town on Monday night.
It is not expected to get any easier for Dave Pace’s side when in-form Warrington arrive at the Butchers Arms looking to complete a league double over them, after their 5-1 success at Cantilever Park in October.
The Yellows have won their last eight league games and last dropped points in a 1-1 draw at Witton Albion on Boxing Day.
But the Cheshire outfit were rocked by last week’s departure of popular manager Shaun Reid by mutual consent after three seasons in charge.
Joint-managers Stuart Mellish and Lee Smith were immediately appointed with 33-year-old defender Craig Robinson, who scored the famous FA Cup second-round winner against Exeter City last season, stepping up to fill a player-coach role.
The new management duo oversaw last Saturday’s 1-0 victory over third-top Ossett Albion as Town held on to the lead given to them by an own goal from Ossett’s keeper, despite having captain Ciaran Kilheeney sent off for two yellow cards in the second half.
The 32-year-old forward joined Warrington last summer after ending his third spell at Droylsden, for whom he was top scorer with over 20 goals last season.
The former Manchester City trainee, who is the division’s leading scorer with 23 goals this season, will be available to play on his return to east Manchester with his suspension not kicking in until the home game against Kendal Town on February 27.
The Bloods will also be reunited with another former striker, Ben Deegan. The 27-year-old had two stints at the Butchers Arms before leaving to join Ashton United for a short spell last season.
Although they are a comfortable 12 points clear of the bottom two in 17th place, Pace’s men will be desperate to avoid a fourth successive defeat and end a six-game winless run.
Six of their 10 victories in all competitions this season have come on home soil but the Bloods have not tasted success since a 4-2 win over Scarborough Athletic on December 19.
They did, however, complete the double over Town last term by following up a 3-1 home win with a thrilling 4-3 triumph at Cantilever Park 12 months ago.
Despite five teams sitting below them in the table, Droylsden have the second-worst defence in the division with 86 goals conceded in 27 games so far.
In contrast, Warrington are the league’s leading scorers with 75 goals scored in their 29 games, of which they have won 23 and only lost two.
Town, who have won their last three matches by a 1-0 scoreline, are currently in their best form of the campaign and are seeking to keep a sixth successive clean sheet.
Another three points this weekend could extend their eight-point lead at the top, depending on Northwich’s result at Mossley, as the Yellows hope dreams of a first-ever promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier Division can become reality this season.
Former Everton youngster Gerard Kinsella, who made his Town debut last weekend, could be involved again while left-back Michael Lea is hoping for a first start after being named on the bench last time out.
Droylsden are without Steve Gibson, who has returned to Bury at the end of his month’s loan, but otherwise have the same squad of players available from Monday’s loss at the Dual Seal Stadium.
They will hope top scorer Dominic Smith can provide the ammunition to engineer a memorable win over the division’s in-form side.
Droylsden: James (GK), Clarke, Barber, Wood, Hampson, Pino, Grimshaw, D Rouse (c), Gibson, Kibaka, Smith, Hasler-Cregg, O’Brien, Daly, Parkinson, Murphy, C Rouse, Howe.
Warrington Town: Wills (GK), Brown, McCarten, O’Donnell, Lea, Metcalfe, Ventre, Gahgan, Kinsella, Kilheeney (c), Deegan, Holt, Robinson, Turner, Rudge, Dean, Gillespie, Collins.
By Adam Higgins
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