TRAFFORD FC are seeking a third straight league win when in-form Clitheroe visit Shawe View on Saturday in the Evo-Stik First Division North (KO 15:00 GMT).
The North secured a 1-0 win over Burscough in their previous home game before beating ninth-placed Lancaster City by the same scoreline at the Giant Axe last weekend.
Optimism is high despite exiting both the Manchester Premier Cup, to Mossley at the semi-final stage, and the Doodson League Cup after a penalty shoot-out defeat by Colwyn Bay this month.
Similarly, Clitheroe are brimming with confidence after four straight wins, in which they have scored 19 goals and conceded four.
A fifth successive league victory for the first time since November 2009 could lift the eighth-placed Blues up to sixth, depending on other results.
They are currently four points behind fifth-placed Ossett Albion but with games in hand on the teams above, having only played 27 times.
Meanwhile, Trafford have played three games more, the joint-highest in the division along with Ossett Albion, and sit nine points adrift of the top five in 12th position.
The Flixton-based side could move in to the top half, and as high as ninth, if they can record an eighth home league win of the campaign.
Their 12-goal striker Jack Dorney may still be absent this weekend but top scorer Chris McDonagh will be looking to add to his 13 goals this season – one of which came in a short spell at Glossop North End before Christmas.
Boss Tom Baker will be hoping his side can build on the momentum ahead of hosting bottom-club New Mills, who have only picked up a solitary point this term, next weekend.
But, despite boasting the worst defence in the top half of the table with 56 goals conceded, Clitheroe will provide a tough test and be looking to banish the demons of the 4-2 defeat in the reverse fixture at Shawbridge in October.
The Lancashire outfit have won half of their 14 away league games, including a 6-1 win at Radcliffe Borough in midweek.
Top scorer Sefton Gonzales was on fire at the Belvoir Stadium, taking his season’s tally to 12 goals with a brace and three other assists.
Midfielder Ross Dent has also been inspiring of late since being handed an attacking role earlier this month, chipping in with three vital goals and two man-of-the-match displays.
Player-manager Simon Garner, who may take to the field himself at Shawe View, will be desperate to keep the winning sequence going before hosting fourth-placed Glossop North End next Tuesday night in a key game for both sides’ promotion ambitions.
With Clitheroe and Trafford still in the hunt on the periphery of the play-off picture, the margin for error is slimming all the time and three points this weekend will be vital for their respective pushes.
Trafford FC: Saunders (GK), Quanash, Neville, Langford, Duggan, Granite (c), Palmer, Jacobs, Bryant, Burns, Davies, McDonagh, Horrocks, Ledson, Correia, Caldecott, Spencer, Shuker, Derbyshire.
Clitheroe FC: Woodhead (GK), Heywood, Walker, C Lynch, Brady, Garner, Willoughby, Harries, Hampson, D Lynch (c), Gonzales, Mayers, Barski, Bakkor, Bonaminio, Benjamin.
By Adam Higgins
This game will form part of our non-league live service, Football LIVE, don’t forget to join us from 2pm for all the latest action…