AS the football season begins to wind down and teams become aware if promotion, or relegation, is a distinct possibility, the pressure is ramped up and our Greater Manchester sides are no different. Jordan Davies brings us up to date with what to expect this weekend…

National League

The pressure is on for ALTRINCHAM. With just three National League games remaining they lie two points inside the relegation zone. With Halifax travelling to champions elect Cheltenham Town, a win for the Robins at Eastleigh should take them out of the bottom four. It won’t be easy for Neil Tolson’s men however, the Spitfires are in seventh place just one point outside the play-offs and unbeaten in eight.

Simply looking at the scoreline doesn’t tell half the story of MACCLESFIELD TOWN’s 0-0 draw with Dover Athletic. The Silkmen played 85 minutes with striker Jack Sampson in goal following Ritchie Branagan’s dismissal and Shwan Jalal currently on the injury list. Branagan will be available for this weekend’s game with Guiseley after Macc’s appeal was successful. John Askey’s men are strong favourites, they’re five without defeat and won the reverse fixture 3-0.

National League North

STOCKPORT COUNTY will officially relegate Corby Town this weekend if they avoid defeat against the Steelmen. The Northamptonshire side’s spell in the sixth tier looks to be over after just one year as they sit nine points from safety with just nine left to play for in addition to their atrocious goal difference of minus 38. Far less riding on the game for County who will be confident having dismantled Tommy Wright’s side 4-0 at Steel Park in December.

Two of our sides collide on Saturday when STALYBRIDGE CELTIC travel to FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER. Celtic look to have wrapped up their National League North safety with their 2-0 win over North Ferriby United on Tuesday night whilst the Rebels are looking for a positive end to their first campaign at Broadhurst Park, they sit 12th.

CURZON ASHTON’s quest to secure a top 10 finish in their first season at this level continues when Gloucester City visit the Tameside stadium this weekend. The Nash have suffered just one defeat in their last seven whilst Gloucester are without a win in nine and have slumped to 17th in the standings, Jon Flanagan’s men will be odds-on for victory.

Evo-Stik Premier Division

Whitby Town’s win at Colwyn Bay on Tuesday night has put HYDE UNITED in perilous danger of a third consecutive relegation. Darren Kelly’s appointment as manager has done nothing to stop the Tigers’ awful form, just two wins in 26 and five straight defeats mean Buxton are going to fancy their chances when Hyde visit Derbyshire on Saturday looking for three precious points.

With their play-off berth assured, SALFORD CITY are looking to build momentum going into the end of season shoot-out. Their final regular season home match comes this weekend against ninth placed Nantwich Town who held the Ammies to a draw in the reverse fixture and dumped Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson’s men out of the FA Trophy in October.

The game of the day in the Northern Premier League comes from Hurst Cross. Fourth placed ASHTON UNITED take on the team just the wrong side of the play-off line in Workington. The Robins got a much needed victory at Rushall Olympic on Tuesday night to give them a four point buffer over the Cumbrians who are stalling at just the wrong time having lost their last two. A chance for Ashton to showcase their promotion credentials.

Evo-Stik First Division North

It’s been a dismal season for Harrogate Railway Athletic, with just four wins all campaign and already relegated they play their penultimate home game in the seventh tier this Saturday against TRAFFORD. The North put six past the Locomotives in September and will hope to repeat that feat in North Yorkshire.

NASA’s greatest men would struggle to decipher how DROYLSDEN’s goal difference is minus 63 yet they lie in the relative safety of 17th place. By comparison Scarborough Athletic, who sit immediately BELOW the Bloods have a goal difference of minus 19. Anyway, mysteries aside, Dave Pace’s team have been excellent on the road of late, wins at Kendall Town and Radcliffe Borough mean they’re chasing a hat-trick of away successes when they visit Bamber Bridge on Saturday.

Averaging less than a point per game is usually a recipe for disaster. It has only been the ineptitude of New Mills and Harrogate Railway Athletic that have meant RADCLIFFE BOROUGH haven’t been embroiled in a relegation dogfight. Nevertheless, they are safe and can play without fear when Ossett Albion visit Stainton Park this weekend. Borough picked up a shock win in the reverse fixture on March 1 so are looking to complete an unlikely double in Greater Manchester.

And finally, MOSSLEY and Farsley Celtic are in opposite halves of the table yet separated by just one league position. The Lilywhites will be looking to wipe out the three point lead which Celtic possess over them on Saturday when the two lock horns at Seel Park on Saturday. Having won at Throstle Nest as recently as March 19, Mossley will hope to repeat the trick this weekend.

By Jordan Davies

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