FOR the last time this season, Quays News sport reporter Jordan Davies returns with the Football Live fixture lowdown. It’s a momentous weekend for Altrincham who face potential relegation from the National League whilst Ashton United and Salford City continue their respective bids for a place in the National League North next season.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for ALTRINCHAM. Three points from safety, coupled with the two teams above the relegation zone (Guiseley and Boreham Wood) facing each other, makes the visit of already relegated Welling United simply must win for the Robins or they will lose their National League status. Two wins in 22 for Neil Tolson’s men and no goals in their last three are trends they must buck at Moss Lane.
MACCLESFIELD TOWN will be performing a guard of honour this weekend as champions Cheltenham Town play their last away game in the fifth tier before they return to the Football League. Macc have been in great form of late, four wins and two draws from their last six outings have come close to securing the Silkmen a top 10 finish. They’ll say goodbye to the Moss Rose for 2015-16 hoping to come up against a Cheltenham side still hungover from last week’s promotion celebrations.
National League North
CURZON ASHTON have performed miracles in their first ever season at this level. Their last match at the Tameside Stadium is a huge one, but not for themselves. The Nash are nicely tucked in 10th position but visitors Brackley Town still have it all to do if they’re to maintain their National League North status. Kevin Wilkin’s men are two points inside the drop zone and could be relegated were they to suffer defeat and other results went against them. The Saints did win the reverse fixture though 2-0 in early December.
Only a month ago relegation fears were afoot at Bower Fold but an excellent last month or so has seen STALYBRIDGE CELTIC rise to 12th place. Only two defeats in nine mean they travel to already relegated Corby Town with a chance of making the top half of the final league standings. The Steelmen did manage one of their three away successes at Celtic earlier this season so could complete a rare ‘double’ in Northamptonshire.
STOCKPORT COUNTY have majorly underachieved in their three seasons in the sixth tier, finishes of 14th and 11th before this campaign were deemed simply not good enough. Neil Young came in and the club adopted the slogan ‘nothing but promotion’ ahead of the 2015-16 season. Things started well enough but a mid-season capitulation saw Young sacked and Jim Gannon reappointed to the Edgeley Park hotseat with his side 11th (again) ahead of this weekend’s foray to Derbyshire to take on an Alfreton Town side who also have very little left to play for.
With safety a mathematical certainty FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER now have two games with the pressure off, starting this Saturday with a trip east to Gainsborough Trinity. The Lincolnshire side sit in 16th but aren’t quite assured of National League North football for next season, they would be so and overtake Karl Marginson’s side in the process with a victory over the Red Rebels.
Evo-Stik Premier Division
It’s the last game of the regular season in the Northern Premier League this Saturday. ASHTON UNITED would guarantee themselves a spot in the end of season playoffs with a win at 12th placed Sutton Coldfield Town irrespective of other results. The Robins haven’t been in top gear of late, just two wins in six isn’t promotion form but an important victory against Halesowen Town on Tuesday night means their fate is in their own hands.
SALFORD CITY are to all intents and purposes assured of third place and therefore a home semi-final. The pressure this weekend is on their opponents Stourbridge who could have finalised their play-off berth with a win on Thursday night at Frickley, but the Glassboys fluffed their lines and lost 2-1 meaning their game with the Ammies, just two days later, is now as crucial as they come. Any dropped points from Gary Hackett’s men would give Workington the chance to steal fifth place at the final furlong. The pressure’s on at the War Memorial Ground.
Monday night’s 4-0 loss to Nantwich Town ensured HYDE UNITED of a third consecutive relegation. Two seasons ago they were rubbing shoulders with Grimsby and Luton Town. They even won at Kenilworth Road in 2013; next season it’s Radcliffe Borough and Prescot Cables for the Tigers. They round off another miserable season on home soil against Halesowen Town, with Darren Kelly looking to avoid defeat as Hyde manager for the very first time.
Evo-Stik First Division North
There’s an 18th place play-off at the Butchers Arms this weekend. DROYLSDEN in 19th, round off 2015-16 against the side a point and a place above them, Ossett Town. The West Yorkshire-men have ended the season imperiously, five wins out of six is the form they take with them to Greater Manchester. Dave Pace’s men have lost their last three but may raise their game knowing a win would lift them above their opponents in the end of season standings.
RADCLIFFE BOROUGH may well have forgotten what it’s like to play away from Stainton Park. Boro have played their last five matches on home soil ahead of this week’s final assignment of the season at Farsley Celtic. Having won the initial fixture between the sides in mid-March, Radcliffe will hope to complete an end-of-season double at Throstle Nest.
In a heavily congested middle of the table, MOSSLEY could finish as high as ninth or as low as 13th come Saturday evening. They’d maximise their chances of a top 10 position with victory at Brighouse Town. The Brig were victorious at Seel Park in December so revenge may well be the order of the day for the Lilywhites.
And finally, TRAFFORD in eighth could rise to as high as sixth place were they to return from Ossett Albion with all three points and Lancaster and Clitheroe avoid victory. Five wins out of seven is a solid enough end of season return for the North. Interestingly, their opponents are the last side to win at Shawe View in 2015-16. Albion’s 2-1 win in early December was the catalyst for Tom Baker’s team to go nine undefeated on home soil, a run they’ll now carry into 2016-17.
By Jordan Davies