A CONDENSED fixture list is due to the fact that the Evo-Stik divisions were wrapped up – play-offs aside – last weekend and thus it is the turn of the Vanarama National Leagues to bring down the curtain on the 2015/16 season. Jordan Davies brings us the final instalment of the season…
The curtain comes down on the National League season this weekend and the same could very well be said for ALTRINCHAM’s stay in the fifth tier. The Robins will be relegated if they do not win at fifth-placed Braintree Town and even if they do defy the odds they will need to rely on Halifax losing to Macclesfield and Guiseley failing to beat Torquay. The chances look slim for Neil Tolson’s men who coincidentally played the Iron in the final game of the 2014-15 campaign, they lost that day 4-2.
John Askey’s MACCLESFIELD TOWN are guaranteed a top 10 finish in the end of season standings, the same cannot be said for their final opponents of the season FC Halifax Town. The Shaymen have had a highly eventful season, Neil Aspin and Darren Kelly both having left the dugout before the appointment of Jim Harvey. An upturn in fortunes under the Northern Irishman has seen the Yorkshiremen qualify for the FA Trophy final and, after last week’s win at Forest Green, move out of the relegation zone with one match remaining. Victory against the Silkmen will complete the job and ensure Halifax can enjoy their day at Wembley knowing their National League status has been maintained.
National League North
Two of our sides face-off in a makeshift ninth-place play-off at Edgeley Park on Saturday. CURZON ASHTON have had a fantastic first season at this level and know a win at STOCKPORT COUNTY will allow them to leapfrog Jim Gannon’s side. The Hatters won the Cheshire Senior Cup for the first time in 50 years in the week. Obi Anoruo’s header in the 118th minute saw off Tranmere Rovers at the Weavers Stadium and the trophy itself is expected to be on show in SK3 as County and Curzon say goodbye to 2015-16.
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER will perform a guard of honour for visiting Solihull Moors at Broadhurst Park this weekend. Marcus Bignot’s side have worked wonders and guaranteed their seat at non-league’s top table two weeks ago. Karl Marginson’s troops can finish anywhere between 12th and 15th dependant on various final day results and will fondly remember the reverse fixture when they pulled off one of the results of the season, winning 2-1 at Damson Park on a wet Tuesday night in March.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC have had an impressive end to their National League North campaign. Just two defeats in 10 and three wins from their last four alleviated any lingering relegation fears and has meant that victory against Boston, coupled with an Alfreton Town defeat, would give Liam Watson’s side a top half finish. Their Lincolnshire opponents are currently in occupation of the final play-off berth and hence a win at Bower Fold would secure them a spot in the end of season shoot-out, any slip-up however and Nuneaton will surely pip them to fifth place as they take on already relegated Hednesford Town on home soil.
Evo-Stik Premier Division
Whilst the regular season in the seventh tier concluded last week there is still the matter of the play-off final to be played on Saturday. SALFORD CITY are on the cusp of matching Darlington’s achievement of consecutive promotions to the National League North and have home advantage against Derek Townsley’s Workington AFC. The Ammies are strong favourites having won both meetings between the sides in the league but the Cumbrians heroically defeated Blyth Spartans 4-3 at Croft Park, on Tuesday night, in their semi-final so have already proven that anything is possible. It may very well be tense, there may very well be tears, either way one team will become heroes and the other will have the whole of summer to reflect on what might have been.
By Jordan Davies