Matt Derbyshire’s terrific pre-season form earned a place in the starting line-up of Nottingham Forest’s opening Championship game against Huddersfield Town at the City Ground.
He made the Reds first chance for Cox whose shot was blocked and shortly afterwards his flick was fired over by Guedioura.
In the second half Matt looked as though he was about to give his side the lead when he leapt to meet a cross but he missed the ball claiming he was pushed out of the way but the referee refused his appeal. A similar chance arrived midway through the half but this time the ball was inches too high with the ex-Harwood hero just a few feet from the goal-line. He was substituted with less than 10 minutes remaining and Forest grabbed a late winner through Lansbury.
He was then on the bench for Forest’s League Cup tie at home to Hartlepool but an injury to Cox saw his enter the action after 26 minutes. In a comfortable win Matt sealed his side’s passage into the next round when he scored a superb third goal on 67 minutes. The evergreen Reid chipped a great ball over the defence and Matt darted into the space to loop a header over the keeper.
Another place on the bench for the next game at Ewood Park and with chances few and far between, Matt was brought on by Billy Davies just after the hour mark as Forest went for a more attacking approach. His introduction was pivotal in the Reds taking control and within minutes he looked certain to score after outwitting the home defence and bearing in on goal but just as he ‘pulled the trigger’, a fantastic sliding tackle from Grant Hanley thwarted him. He then wriggled through again but for a second time a desperate last-ditch block saved the day for Rovers as Matt shot from inside the box.
His running off the ball was causing all sorts of problems to a defence that had previously looked largely untroubled and he was brought down just outside the ‘D’ of the penalty area but Reid curled the free-kick just wide.
For the second time in eight days, Forest then took all the spoils thanks to a single goal, this time in the 92 nd minute from Henderson.
Andy Procter is enjoying much more playing time since his move from PNE to Bury but the opening day game against Chesterfield didn’t go his way. With a new owner in charge at Gigg Lane, optimism was high and a very healthy crowd of almost 4,500, which included 1000+ Spirites, turned up to see the beginning of a new era. With the score at 0-0 Andy looked certain to score but his close range header went straight to the keeper and Chesterfield took the points thanks to a 2-0 win.
A League Cup tie saw the Shakers come from behind to lead 2-1 at the break although it could have been better as Andy set up Jones on 45 minutes but he shot wide when well placed.
That miss didn’t prove costly as Bury held out for a 3-2 victory.
A tough League match at Oxford United followed and a 2-1 defeat left them still waiting to pick up their first point of the campaign.
AFC Fylde have enjoyed a tremendous pre-season, winning 7 and drawing 2 of their friendly games. The first game of this month saw them draw 2-2 at home to Workington and after the Reds had taken the lead, James Dean broke through and coolly slotted past the Cumbrians’ keeper. Deano was substituted at the break as manager Dave Challinor looked to give everyone an outing.
He wasn’t involved in the next game, a 4-1 win at neighbours Bamber Bridge but was in the starting line-up for the next game at Padiham. The game’s first chance fell to Harwood old boy Martin Parkes but he headed wide when he should have scored. Deano missed the White’s opening chance on 16 minutes when he blazed over from the edge of the box and then missed another presentable opportunity as Fylde took complete control towards the end of the half.
The second period was much more even but after the Storks had enjoyed their best spell of the game, Fylde upped the tempo and created plenty of chances. Sadly for Deano he wasn’t to be his night as he first headed wide then shot just over the crossbar.
He was back on the bench for the final warm up game at Barrow but came on just before the hour mark and helped his side to a comfortable 3-2 win, Barrow scoring their two goals in the final ten minutes.
Our friends at FC United haven’t enjoyed a good pre-season but their final game saw them win 2-1 at Stalybridge Celtic.
The NWCFL campaign started at the beginning of August and it was a mixed bag for our local sides.
In the Premier League, Colne got off to a dreadful start, going 4-0 down in the first half at Bootle before getting their act together after the break and suffering no further ‘damage’.
Barnoldswick Town also went down, 3-2 at home to Maine Road, while an own goal was all that Bacup & Rossendale Borough had to show for a comprehensive 4-1 defeat at Runcorn Town.
St Helens found themselves 3-0 down at the break as they entertained Norton United but they fought back in dramatic style to draw 3-3 with the last two goals coming in injury time.
Our sides faired much better in the 1 st Division with Darwen thrashing new boys Northwich Flixton Villa 5-0 before a huge crowd of 180.
Nelson made the long trip to Leek CSOB and had very little difficulty in winning 4-0 with the home side doing themselves few favours by having two men sent off.
Meanwhile, a mammoth 490 witnessed fans club 1874 Northwich entertain Oldham Boro in their first-ever meaningful game but they all went home disappointed as they could only draw 1-1.
Their support will be a great boost for the division with away support also looking to be fantastic if the 200 that turned out at Irlam is anything to go by. Once again they had to settle for a point after another 1-1 draw. Daisy Hill then benefited from that support as 147 went through the turnstiles and they saw a late winner for Northwich seal a 3-2 win.
Runcorn Linnets also enjoy great support home and away with a huge 160 for their opening day 2-1 win at Abbey Hey and they followed that by attracting 320 for the home game with Bootle which they won 3-1.
Barnoldswick got their season up and running with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Stockport Sports and that followed up a game at Bacup which was abandoned due to a floodlight failure.
Luckily lights weren’t needed for Bacup’s next game against Congleton Town where the teams shared the points after a 1-1 draw.
Colne suffered a second successive 4-0 defeat, this time at home to AFC Liverpool.
Nelson followed up their win at Leek with a 3-2 success against Holker Old Boys at Victoria Park but had to settle for a point after being held 2-2 by Chadderton in their next outing.
Johnny Hessian has made the move from Darwen to Nelson in the hope of gaining more first team appearances and he came off the bench to get a last minute winner in the Holker game.
Next up was trip to highly-fancied Atherton Collieries and despite leading at the break, lost their unbeaten start to the season after a brace of Colls goals.
Darwen also lost, 2-0 at Irlam while new boys Hanley Town made their intentions clear from the outset after a 4-1 win at Cheadle Town and gained a fine point in a 1-1 home draw against fancied Bootle.
The other new team, Widnes Vikings, have enjoyed a steady start with four points from their three games so far.
Harwood supporter Paul Clark was relieved and happy that his Aldershot side were playing at all after the last few months of turmoil at the Recreation Ground and they began the season with a tough trip to fancied Grimsby Town. No less than seven players made their debuts for the Shots and the team performed admirably, taking the lead before having to settle for an excellent point after a late penalty for the Mariners. Paul made the long trip, as he does for most Aldershot games, and was no doubt happy with the performance and point.
Another Harwood fan, Don Fitzgerald, will be more than happy with the start made by his AFC Wimbledon side. They drew the opening day fixture at Torquay before exiting the League Cup, 2-1 at Millwall before defeating Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Further afield, poor old Thurrock have finally exhausted the appeals process and have been relegated from the Ryman Premier League.
In the Skrill (Conference) Premier League, A massive away following saw the attendance top 2,000 for Southport’s opening game and they beat one the hot favourites for the title, Luton Town, 1-0.
They then came from behind at Hyde to go top of the table, the winner coming in the 4 th minute of stoppage time.
Andy Procter has left Preston North End to join neighbours Bury on a two year deal. Much of his time at Deepdale has been spent on the bench and his move to Gigg Lane should enable him to get his career back on track.
His first outing went rather well-a 15-0 win at St. Blazey with Blackburn Rovers loanee Anton Forrester scoring seven times while Andy scored with a bullet header.
Two ex-Football League clubs met at the Shay, although strictly speaking, they’re not the ‘old’ clubs, but Halifax Town thrashed Scarborough Athletic 7-0, with all the goals coming in the opening 64 minutes.
Another re-formed ex-League club, Darlington 1883 are also on the way back up after winning their league at the first time of asking and moving up into the Northern Premier League First Division North. They received great news recently with a two-year shirt sponsorship deal worth £30,000.
Staying with the ‘once mighty’ Aldershot Town are hoping to exit administration soon and that will be a great relief for top supporter Paul Clark.
One of the friendliest clubs who we used to visit was Winsford United and it was sad to see that the club had to cancel two pre-season friendlies after most of their first team turned out for Mossley. United’s manager left the club to join Mossley and it appears that many of his ex-players also want to make the step up to the Evo-Stik League.
Matt Derbyshire is enjoying his best pre-season for several years with Nottingham Forest. Four goals in four games has surely impressed the manager enough to give him a start in the opening game of the coming season.
He scored in the games against Chesterfield, Walsall, Royal Antwerp and Motherwell.
In the first friendly game at Chesterfield, he latched on to a through-ball from the evergreen Andy Reid and slotted the Reds into the lead after 17 minutes and just before the break, a great curling effort went inches wide of the post. Eventually making way after 65 minutes, his performance earned him another start at home to Royal Antwerp.
He scored a 1 st half penalty and looked to have doubles the lead early in the second half only to be thwarted by a great save from the Belgians keeper. He then saw a shot cleared off the line as Forest then had to come from behind to draw 2-2.
A trip to Walsall followed that and after the Saddlers had taken the lead, Matt equalised with a great header after 28 minutes, giving his side the platform to go and win 2-1.
The ex-Harwood legend then led the line at Motherwell where he showed great determination under pressure to get to a 12 th minute cross first and put his side into the lead, the game ending 1-1 with Matt being subbed after 70 minutes.
His performances have led to ex-Forest hero Gary Birtles heaping praise on him and insisting that despite his tough time so far at the City Ground, he could still make the grade and be a star for the team.
James Dean played the first half for AFC Fylde’s opening friendly at New Mills and despite having and early shot well saved, he didn’t manage a goal in the Whites 6-1 victory.
He was missing for the next game at Vauxhall Motors where Fylde gained a very impressive 5-2 win.
He returned to the starting line-up at Warrington Town and his header made the score 2-0 and then hit the 5 th in a 7-1 win.
A tougher game followed that at Airbus UK Broughton and Deano came on in the second half of the 2-2 draw.
Johnny Hessian has left Darwen for Nelson in the hope of getting more 1 st team football and he’s certainly done that as the Admirals played a whole host of pre-season games.
They beat Hurst Green 3-1 before going down 4-2 to a strong Accrington Stanley side. Another defeat, 3-1 at home to Maine Road came next but they then won 5-1 at Old Blackburnians. They continued to hit the target regularly as Barnoldswick Town were thrashed 7-3 and they then lost 1-0 at home to Runcorn Town and won 3-2 at Northern League side Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.
Meanwhile, Johnny’s old club Darwen lost 4-1 at home to Maine Road, 4-0 to Accrington Stanley, 5-1 at Colne and 3-0 to St. Helens at the Anchor.
Very little news this month, as may be expected on a web-site without a club!
In the NWCFL, another club has decided to follow Bacup by changing their name. Northwich Villa who performed admirably last season despite a lack of interest from the townsfolk, have changed their title to Northwich Flixton Villa and will be playing home games at Flixton’s Valley Road.
Another new club has joined the League, Hanley Town, who’ve moved from the Staffs. County Senior League. After the original club won the Midland League in 2004/05, that competition merged with the Staffs. County League to form the S.C.S.L. and Hanley once again were champions.
Success has been regular since then with three titles, two runners-up finishes and a fifth place, which was described as a failure! Last season they won four trophies but the club were rocked when just before the end of the campaign, their highly successful and popular manager Colin Stair sadly passed away.
The club is used to winning and will no doubt be a force over the coming 12 months, their opening fixture sees them entertain Chadderton.
It was great to meet up with long-distance Great Harwood Town supporter Nick Hancock down in Paignton recently and he’s looking forward to more progress from his ‘other’ favourite side, Buckland Athletic.
Carshalton resident and Harwood fan Don Fitzgerald is also looking forward to the new season with his AFC Wimbledon side and if the Dons can avoid another relegation scrap, it would be very good for Fitz’s heart!
He’ll need to start saving the pennies as the opening couple of weeks sees them travel to both Torquay and Exeter.
Padiham certainly aren’t resting on their laurels after promotion and have signed Runcorn Linnets top striker Rob Whyte as well as Spencer Jordon, Lewis Jordon and Liam Blades from neighbours Barnoldswick Town.
I recently took a trip on the steam train from Bury to Rawtenstall and was amazed to see Stand Athletic’s ground still standing, after what must be over ten years since they last appeared in the NWCFL. The pitch is overgrown but not covered in trees and even the goalposts are still upright.
Nelson’s first friendly of the season takes place on July 6 th with Accrington Stanley’s new manager James Beattie ready to bring a full-strength side to Victoria Park.
Darwen’s Sportsman’s dinner, set for next week, with Ray Parlour as after dinner speaker, has been postponed due to lack of numbers. That’s something which GHTFC never had to do thanks to the hard work of Mark Jones and Bill Holden.
Two former ‘giants’ of Welsh football, Barry Town United and Llanelli, have recently folded but were quickly replaced by fans’ clubs and hoping to carry on where the original clubs left off but the Welsh FA has told them both that instead of competing in the Welsh pyramid, they must start out at local levels.
Thurrock are still in limbo with their Ryman Premier League future still undecided. It seems truly ridiculous that the decision to dock them three points last season, which consequently relegated them, should have occurred in the first place. An unpaid £16 fine for one of their players, meant that he was banned from all football. There’s some doubt as to whether the player even knew about it as it came about because the Sunday League club he played for, years ago, disbanded, and its outstanding fines were shared between the registered players. He had then gone on to play for several non-league clubs before being signed by Thurrock, so how on earth were they supposed to know about the old Sunday League’s decision is anyone’s guess. Good luck to them with their appeal.
Dwight Gayle looks to be following in Matt Derbyshire’s footsteps as he made the step up from non-league to the Premier League, via Peterborough. Just a year ago he was playing for Bishop’s Stortford and now he’s signed for Crystal Palace.
Another player who’s on the ‘up’ and is widely tipped to reach the top, is Antoni Sarcevic who’s left Chester for our old foes Fleetwood Town for a fee believed to be around the £100,000 mark.
Macclesfield Town offered one lucky fan the chance of a run-out in a first team game for £20,000, but withdrew the offer after it received widespread criticism.
Matt Derbyshire has one more year left on his contract at Nottingham Forest but his lack of 1 st team opportunities at the City Ground last season would suggest that his future lies elsewhere. At his age he really should be playing regular 1 st team football and maybe a move to a League One club could be the answer.
Bacup Borough have changed their name to Bacup of Rossendale Boro in an effort to attract more supporters from the whole of the region and not just the small town of Bacup.
In the NWCFL, Squires Gate have escaped relegation despite finishing second from bottom. Stone Dominoes were rock bottom and were relegated but soon after they resigned from the League.
Teams from the Staffs. County Premier League must have been dismayed to hear of Stone Dominoes’ decision to scrap their reserve side thus having their disastrous results expunged from the record books.
Potteries side Hanley were particularly gutted to find that their 42-0 win was all in vain.
Back to the NWCFL, and 1 st Division Champions Formby, who were denied promotion because of ground grading, will remain in the Division next term but it could have been much worse. They were having problems with the lease at Altcar Road, which has only been their home for a few years, and there was a very real possibility that they could be homeless in the near future. Thankfully, the Squirrels have agreed to ground-share with neighbours Burscough for the next two seasons so good luck to them next year and hopefully they can take their rightful place in the Premier Division in 12 months time.
Their bad fortune meant that 3 rd placed West Didsbury & Chorlton were promoted in their maiden NWCFL season, proving to other ambitious Manchester League clubs that progress could be made if they take the step up.
The 1 st Division will see two new sides in Widnes Vikings and 1874 Northwich. The latter is a new club set up by the disgruntled supporters of Northwich Victoria, angered by years of mis-management by the clubs’ hierarchy, ground sales, evictions, and playing home games 40 miles away in Stafford. Next season, the once mighty Vics will be playing their Evo-stik games at Flixton while the new club will play at Winsford United’s Barton Stadium. With Vics attendances barely above the 50 mark, one wonders if it’s the end of the road for the old club in the next couple of years.
It’ll also be interesting to see the size of gates that 1874 will attract.
The Non-League Fantasy League table saw Gt. Harwood Town finish in around 900 th place.
Always nice to see teams who’ve folded enjoying success and Newport County have done remarkably well to re-gain their Football League status after 25 years.
They were relegated from the League in 1988, wound up a year later, and started up again by fans to begin at the bottom. The Welsh FA treated the new club very badly and insisted that because they refused to join the Welsh League, they had to play their games in England, and for several years had to play 60 miles away in Gloucester.
Now back in the town and with a fantastic new ground, 6,000 fans saw them complete their journey by beating Wrexham 2-0 at Wembley thanks to two goals in the last six minutes.
Their victory capped an amazing year for Welsh football, with Swansea City winning the Football League Cup, Cardiff City winning the Championship, and Wrexham winning the FA Trophy.
In the Blue Square North, Paul Salt was hoping for Altrincham play-off glory but he saw the Robins bow out at the semi-final stage after Brackley overturned a 2-1 1 st leg deficit to win 4-2 on aggregate with the tie all but over after 54 minutes of the second game.
Poor old Guiseley failed to make it, again, as they lost 3-1 on aggregate against Halifax Town.
The final took place at Brackley who started out as favourites, not least because Halifax had failed to beat any of the top seven sides this season before the semi-final win but they defied the odds by making it through to return to non-league’s top flight.
In the Evo-stik Premier League, a huge 2,000+ crowd saw FC United end the campaign in 3 rd place with a 3-0 home win against Frickley.
North Ferriby United’s crowd was even better with 626 seeing them clinch the title on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 home win against Ashton United. The village must have been deserted on the Saturday afternoon.
Hednesford Town were pipped to the crown despite winning their final game 2-1 at AFC Fylde. 563 fans saw James Dean equalise before the visitors clinched the three points 5 minutes from time.
On a day of fabulous attendances in the league, another 500+ saw Witton Albion make it through to the play-offs with a 2-0 win against Rushall Olympic who just failed to make it themselves.
Chorley ended with a 2-1 win against bottom side Eastwood Town in front of 831 loyal fans at Victory Park.
Pete Smith’s old side Kendal Town were relegated after several successful seasons in the league.
The semi-final play-offs saw Fylde take on Hednesford for the second time in four days, this time in the Midlands, where after an enthralling 3-3 draw, Town won 3-1 on penalties.
The Coasters led 1-0 at the break but the home side hit back to lead 2-1, which they held until the 92 nd minute when a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ storyline took over. Fylde’s keeper Ben Hinchcliffe fired in a 60-yard free-kick to send the game into extra-time!
Town regained the lead thanks to a hotly disputed penalty but Adam Farrell scored after a goalmouth scramble on the stroke of half time. No more goals in the last 15 minutes so the game went to spot kicks where the Whites missed three of their four efforts.
It was no more than Hednesford deserved as they were the dominant force for most of the opening 90 minutes, had a goal disallowed and also had good claims for a penalty.
Nevertheless, Fylde held on in there and during the opening period of extra-time, after they’d gone behind 3-2, they hit the post twice before equalising.
James Dean had to be content with a place on the bench and entered the fray after 76 minutes. He almost made it 4-3 towards the end of extra-time but his effort produced the save of the game from Dan Crane in the home goal, Farrell and Barnes also went close before the latter fired against the bar from the edge of the box.
The other semi-final saw FC United make it through to the final for the third successive year after they beat Witton Albion 3-1 at Gigg Lane in front of 2,500 boisterous supporters. The Reds led 2-0 at the break and appeared to be coasting but Albion hit back and after being denied a penalty early on, three minutes later they were awarded one which they tucked away.
After that Witton continued to have the majority of the possession without troubling FC too much and 15 minutes from the end another penalty kick made the game safe to set up a final at Hednesford.
The game drew almost 4,500, a record for Keys Park, and a slow start for FC saw them in at the break 2-0 down. Norton pulled one back ten minutes after the re-start but Town held on to break United’s hearts once again.
In the 1 st Division North, Champions Skelmersdale United appeared to have little to play for but they destroyed the dreams of Ramsbottom United. The Rams looked set for the play-offs after promotion last term and 566 fans saw them take the lead just 10 minutes from time. A draw would have been enough for them but Skem equalised two minutes later and hit the winner in the last minute.
That still left hope if either Mossley or Trafford failed to win but both recorded 3-0 home victories and although Curzon Ashton beat New Mills 4-3 at Stalybridge Celtic, the Derbyshire side had already qualified.
Semi-final wins for Trafford and Cammell Laird saw the final take place in Birkenhead as Lairds finished in 2 nd place after the league campaign. That was an almost miraculous turnaround for the club as they finished bottom of the league last year but were given a reprieve to stay put.
No one could have envisaged the magnificent effort that saw them win 10 of the final 11 games including the last six, since their 2-1 defeat to Clitheroe.
Trafford, a team who we met not too long ago in the NWCFL, were on fire from the start, winning the first game 8-0, away, and the second, 7-0 at home. Michael Oates scored a remarkable 36 league goals and will surely be a target for a host of top clubs this summer.
The final produced no goals for the huge 622 crowd and Trafford held their nerve to win 4-2 on spot-kicks.
The title race in the NWCFL Premier Division went to the final day, although a couple of extraordinary scores were needed to deny Padiham the title. They travelled to high flying Runcorn Town who boasted the Leagues best attack, 104 goals, while the only other side in contention, Bootle, were away to 3 rd bottom St. Helens. They kept their slight hopes alive with a 3-1 midweek win against Winsford United and needed a win at Saints, plus a Padiham defeat, plus a 13 goal swing in their favour-not impossible.
The Storks were defending a magnificent unbeaten away record but they came unstuck at the final hurdle with a 1-0 defeat. That meant that Bootle had to win by 12 goals but they could only manage a goalless draw giving Padiham the title and promotion to the Evo-stik League.
They amassed 88 points, one ahead of Maine Road, who in turn finished one point ahead of Bootle.
Top scorer for Padiham, and the Premier League, was Ben Allen with 41.
Bacup Borough played out their annual end of season ‘game-fest’ with matches on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first game saw them come from a 2-0 half time deficit at strugglers Stone Dominoes to win 3-2, in front of only 20 fans, with all three of their goals coming in the final 15 minutes.
Stone ended the campaign having conceded a colossal 83 goals at home and away.
The following day they entertained another Staffs, side Norton United, and drew 2-2.
24 hours later it was a trip to AFC Liverpool and a 90 th minute equaliser gave them a point in a 2-2 draw.
The Saturday brought them a home clash with Glossop North End where they earned another creditable point after a goalless draw.
That score was repeated for the final game of the season against St. Helens, again at West View.
The League Challenge Cup Final saw Runcorn Linnets take on 1 st Division Formby at Curzon Ashton where a great turnout of 580 saw the ex-non-league giants triumph 3-0.
The 1 st Division Trophy Final also took place and new boys Chorlton & West Didsbury beat fellow promotion rivals Abbey Hey 1-0.
To cap an incredible first season in the league, they look to have won promotion after finishing 3 rd behind Formby and Abbey Hey with the Squirrels due to be placed at the foot of the table, although an appeal is pending.
The two leading teams met on the final Saturday and played out a 1-1 draw before a paltry 64 spectators at Abbey Hey.
Formby then completed the NWCFL season with a trip to Rochdale(just 3 home wins this term), defending their superb unbeaten away record, but like Padiham, the record was broken at the final hurdle, thanks to an amazing 4-0 home win for Town.
Formby’s Jason Carey was the NWCFL leading scorer with an amazing 49 goals.
Leek CSOB could muster just 18 for their 2-2 draw with Rochdale Town, in what could be their final game at Leek Town’s home Harrison Park.
Darwen were in contention for a promotion spot for much of the season but they fell away badly in the second half of the season to finish in 5 th spot, 23 points behind top side Formby.
Nelson can be well pleased with their final position of 10 th.
Down in the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic lost 2-1 at home to Melksham Town before winning 2-0 at Longwell Green Sports, and ended the campaign in 10 th spot after defeating Street 3-1 at home.
Unfortunately, the Bucks have lost the services of their successful manager Anthony Lynch, who left the club by mutual consent due to his forthcoming marriage and the fact that he wants to spend more time with his family. Reserve team manager Adam Castle has taken over and Lynch will be a hard act to follow.
Poor Paul Clark probably thought that things couldn’t get much worse for his Aldershot club after relegation from the Football League, but they have as the Shots have gone into administration.
Andy Procter’s time at PNE could be at an end after he once again was an unused substitute for the Lilywhites final game of the season and a few days later was told that the club would listen to offers for him.
Tears of joy and tears of sorrow for two Great Harwood Town supporters as the League Two programme came to a dramatic conclusion.
Don Fitzgerald saw his AFC Wimbledon win their final game, 2-1 against Fleetwood Town, to pull away from the danger zone, much to the delight of a huge crowd and the majority of football fans throughout the country. Had the Dons lost, they would have been relegated.
Meanwhile, Paul Clark’s Aldershot faced the unenviable task of winning at promotion-chasing Rotherham United, a task which proved beyond them as they lost 2-0 and returned to non-league.
Our friends at Accrington Stanley were pleased with the excellent finish to the season but bad news was just around the corner as manager Liam Richardson announced that he would be leaving the Crown Ground to take up the assistant manager’s post at Chesterfield.
In Blue Square North, Colwyn Bay finished the season with six successive wins, the final one, 1-0 at home to Gloucester, and that incredible turn round meant that they finished five points clear of relegation.
One of the first teams in the non-league world to be relegated this term was Hinckley United but they enjoyed their best result of the season on the final day, winning 4-2 at 2 nd placed Guiseley.
Much to the delight of Great Harwood Town fan Paul Salt , Altrincham finished the regular season in red-hot form, ending with a 6-0 thrashing of neighbours Droylsden, despite giving plenty of ‘squad’ players a run-out.
Elsewhere in the Division, Worcester City played their final game at St. Georges Lane in front of a huge 4,000+ crowd but sadly for the majority, Champions Chester spoiled the day by winning 1-0.
Fylde made it through to the Evo-stik Premier League play-offs with two games to spare, drawing their latest game 0-0 at Worksop Town. James Dean’s 1 st half header brought a fantastic save from ex-Boston United legend Paul Bastock and he also came closest to breaking the deadlock when he hit the post ten minutes from time.
Chorley were always playing catch-up and fell just short although they put up a fine performance at leaders North Ferriby United who scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot.
Over 1,000 fans saw FC United end Rushall Olympic’s hope when they won 1-0.
In the Evo-stik League 1 st Division, Ramsbottom United put themselves in with a great chance of making the play-offs after defeating one of their main rivals, Trafford, 2-1 at the Riverside. That victory would have been enough to secure a top five finish had Mossley not scored a last minute winner against Harrogate RA. Unfortunately the Rams last fixture is at champions Skelmersdale United but a draw will be enough and unless both Mossley and Trafford win their last games, then Rammy are through.
Clitheroe came up just short despite a fine point against second-placed New Mills.
Champions Skelmersdale made it 31 wins from 41 games when they won 2-0 at Radcliffe Borough.
In the NWCFL, Padiham have all but won the Premier Division title after the recent round of results. They travelled to Bootle and led 1-0 at the break before ex-Robin Martin Parkes made it two just after the re-start. The massive 284 crowd then saw the home side hit back and level just two minutes from time but then followed a convincing 3-0 win at Ashton Athletic with all the goals scored by Ben Allen. Their cause was helped by Barnoldswick’s tremendous 6-3 win at title hopefuls Bootle, who actually led 2-0 at half time. That win made up for Barlick’s previous game when they lost 1-0 at home to AFC Blackpool.
Should Bootle win their final two games and Padiham lose their last one at Runcorn, the Blues would almost certainly still take the title on goal difference.
Colne lost 3-0 at home to AFC Liverpool and then 3-2 at Winsford United with ex-Harwood hero Ed O’Neil making the opening goal on 23 minutes, while Bacup Borough beat Congleton Town 1-0 before drawing 0-0 with Squires Gate, both games at West View.
Stone Dominoes have endured a disastrous season and that continued with a 7-0 hammering at neighbours Norton United many people must have wondered if they should have turned to their reserves for help-but their record this term has been hardly inspiring!
Their latest defeat was 42-0, at home, to Hanley in the Staffs County Premier League, following on from last week’s 26-0 loss against Redgate Clayton. With the 1 st team conceding 166 goals and the reserves having a goal difference of -221, maybe some work needs to be done on the defensive side!
On a recent browse of the Stone and League websites, no record of Dominoes reserves can be found!!
In the 1 st Division, Nelson came from two down at the break to draw 2-2 at Leek CSOB and then entertained Northwich Villa where the Blues Max Jones came on from the bench ¾ way through the game, with the score at 1-1, and fired in a 10 minute hat-trick to help his side win 4-1.
Darwen defeated Cheadle Town 2-1 at the Anchor before losing 3-2 at lowly Daisy Hill, to continue their indifferent end of season form while the attendances at Northwich Villa have certainly been consistent, just 15 seeing their 5-2 defeat by Chadderton.
Woodford United lost their opening 41 games but led 1-0 at home to 3 rd placed Godalming Town with only 15 minutes of the season left but sadly the visitors scored twice to take the points in what must have been United’s best display of the season.
In the Non-League Paper’s fantasy league, Gt Harwood Town currently lie in 969 th place in a table of 1637 and I demand a re-count!!
Matt Derbyshire must have been desperate to put one over Burnley but he was an unused sub. as Blackpool won 1-0.
He did come on from the bench after 71 minutes at Brighton but was helpless as his side lost 6-1.
Andy Procter once again failed to get on from the bench as PNE finished their home games with a 1-0 win against Tranmere Rovers.
Aldershot suffered a 1-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers and remained at the foot of the table while some of their rivals picked up valuable points. That was followed by a 2-0 home defeat to Southend United and although they then won 1-0 against Dagenham & Redbridge, results elsewhere meant that their time in the Football League is almost over.
Wimbledon twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with play-off chasing Exeter City while Accrington Stanley took another giant step towards safety with a 2-0 home win over Morecambe.
York City also won leaving the Shots on the edge.
Stanley went into the final week of the season with a five game unbeaten run and the 1-0 win at Bristol Rovers clinched their survival. The Reds have in fact won five and lost just one of their last eight games.
Meanwhile, it looks as though Wimbledon will be returning to the Conference after a winless four game April, even though they came back from two down at champions Gillingham to gain a point. Four wins in five games in March looked certain to preserve their league status but the form of most of their rivals has seen them slip into the bottom two.
That form of the last couple of months is in contrast to Aldershot’s, who’ve won two and drawn one of their five April fixtures but failed to win in five March games.
Southport have secured their Blue Square Premier League status after they continued their superb recent away form with a great 1-0 win at high-flyers Forest Green Rovers. Those three points saw the Sandgrounders move up to 17 th place in the Blue Square Premier.
Their final game was at home to Luton Town and despite taking the lead ‘port went down 3-1. That score couple with some great results for many of the other strugglers saw them finish in 20 th place, just one above the drop zone.
A great game took place at Woking where the home side took a 5-0 lead after only 33 minutes but Macclesfield Town stormed back with four unanswered goals in the final half hour to leave the Cards hanging on at the end.
In the Blue Square North, relegated Hinckley United finally gained their first home win, and only second victory of the season when they took on Corby Town. Amazingly, the Knitters were 4-0 up in just over half an hour before running out 6-3 winners. They almost gained another three points as they hosted fellow relegation side Droylsden but they let a 2-0 1 st half lead slip to draw 2-2.
A club who we’ve clashed with in our NPL days, Colwyn Bay, looked to be dead and buried not too long ago but an incredible run of four wins in eight days, saw the latest victory, 2-1 at Workington, move them out of the bottom four.
In the Evo-stik Premier Division, AFC Fylde dropped out of the play-off positions after losing 2-0 at Rushall Olympic who swapped places with the Coasters.
James Dean had a great chance to open the scoring after 14 minutes but saw a cross go through his legs when he was well placed on the edge of the six-yard box.
Despite that defeat and being just outside of the top five, they should still make it as should FC United who needed a last minute goal to salvage a point at already relegated Eastwood Town.
The Reds then drew a crowd of 2,761 to Gigg Lane for the game with Worksop which they won 1-0.
The two clubs then swapped positions again just a few days later as Fylde won 1-0 at home to Blyth Spartans while Rushall lost 2-1 at home to Worksop and then 2-0 at Buxton.
The Whites had the chance to move four points clear of their main rivals but blew the chance, losing 1-0 at home to Stafford Rangers.
James Dean came on after 72 minutes of the Blyth game and the final 40 minutes of the Stafford defeat. In the second of those games, Deano spurned a great chance when he shot narrowly over the bar 15 minutes after coming on.
Chorley look to have missed out, having played more games than all of their rivals and the 1-0 defeat at Worksop left them trailing in 7 th place. They then slipped further down the table after failing to beat Ashton United at Victory Park, 1-1 the score.
In Division One North, Champions Skelmersdale United show few signs of easing up and they beat Farsley 5-1 away and 4-0 at home. Ramsbottom United moved up to 2 nd after a low key 2-0 win against Lancaster City at the Riverside before a terrific 4-0 win at play-off rivals Mossley thanks to a brace apiece from Gaskell and Spencer in front of a healthy crowd of 320.
Clitheroe continue to impress but they almost let a three goal lead slip against Ossett Albion but held on to win 3-2 at Shawbridge. They followed that with a superb 3-1 win at Radcliffe Borough and a 1-1 draw at Curzon Ashton.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, Padiham went to the top of the table after coming from behind to win 2-1 at Bacup Borough and then holding on to that spot with a 2-1 win against Congleton Town at the Arbories.
Runcorn Town’s 5-0 home win against Squires Gate, with all the goals coming in the opening 48 minutes, saw them move above the Storks.
Padiham then made the trip to 2 nd placed Maine Road and a great 1-0 victory saw them regain top spot after Runcorn lost at home to fellow title chasers Bootle. The latest round of results left just three points separating the top four sides.
Colne had a cracking 2-1 home win against Bootle while Barnoldswick Town slipped up, losing 2-1 to Norton United at the Silentnight Stadium.
The Holt House side then edged past Ashton Athletic 3-2 at home and drew 1-1 at Norton United.
Barlick then enjoyed their day in sunny Derbyshire, winning 2-1 at Glossop North End.
Bacup Borough have plenty of games in hand but still need to pick up some points to stay out of trouble and they never looked like picking any up at Runcorn Linnets who cruised to a 5-1 win.
They improved enough to pick up a point in a goalless draw at Wigan Robin Park before defeating Stockport Sports 2-1 at West View.
A breathless week ended with a 2-1 defeat at Alsager Town.
At the bottom of the league, Stone Dominoes goal difference now stands at -124 after visitors Wigan Robin Park scored four goals in each half without reply in front of 23 spectators.
In the 1 st Division, Nelson have improved as the season has progressed and they sit in mid-table after an excellent 3-2 win at Cheadle Town and a 1-1 draw with Chadderton at Victoria Park.
Darwen made it three wins in a row after beating Leek CSOB 2-0 away from home. Just 15 people saw that game and a similar number witnessed Northwich Villa’s 3-0 loss to visitors Rochdale Town.
In fact, just 150 fans saw the six games in the Division.
Darwen then travelled to Formby and burst into a three goal lead just after half time. The Squirrels immediately pulled one back before two late goals salvaged a point.
News then came through that the table-toppers had failed to make the necessary ground improvements and would not only be denied promotion, but would be placed at the bottom of the league!
That decision will no doubt be contested but it didn’t affect the players as they took it out on the next visitors to Altcar Road, Cheadle Town, who they thrashed 6-0.
Darwen meanwhile failed to build on their good point at Formby by losing 1-0 to lowly Irlam at the Anchor.
Some of the crowds in the NWCFL have been truly shocking this season and just 19 people saw the goal bonanza between Daisy Hill and Northwich Villa which the home side won 7-2.
Only 18 saw Rochdale lose 3-0 at home to Eccleshall.
Down in the South West, it looks as though Buckland Athletic will have to be content with a mid-table finish, a fine achievement in itself, and they drew again, this time 2-2 at Hallen before losing 2-0 at Bitton. They then got back to winning ways with a 4-1 home victory over Longwell.
Poor old Woodford United must have feared the worst when league leaders Burnham rolled into town and true to form the visitors won 7-0, the final goal making it 100 for the season for the would-be champions.
They then put in two fine shifts against Royston Town, at home, and Thatcham Town, away, but still lost, 4-1 and 5-0.
Andy Pilley’s decision to dispense with the services of manager Micky Mellon have certainly backfired as they look to be heading for a mid-table finish after their latest defeat, 2-0 at home to Chesterfield. They now travel to Wimbledon for their final game on the back of a run of only two wins in their last 14 games and three defeats in a row.
Matt Derbyshire’s goal drought continued at Blackpool though he had a good excuse as he was limited to a 90 th minute cameo as the Seasiders recorded a terrific 1-0 win against Crystal Palace to virtually secure their Championship survival this season.
Another ex-Showground hero, Andy Procter, also warmed the bench for 90 minutes but he failed to appear as Preston North End lost 1-0 at Crewe Alexandra.
In League Two, Paul Clark’s Aldershot travelled to a Port Vale side more in hope than expectation as the 2 nd placed hosts had just thrashed 3 rd placed Burton Albion 7-1. Nevertheless, the Shots produced a great performance to draw 1-1 although the point wasn’t enough to lift them from the foot of the table.
Don Fitzgerald was disappointed to see his Wimbledon side lose 1-0 at ever-improving Bristol Rovers and despite their recent good form, they’re still in the thick of the relegation battle.
Meanwhile a late, late goal for Accrington Stanley not only helped their cause but severely dented the survival hopes of opponents York City.
Southport’s slump continued into April as they lost 2-0 at home to Alfreton Town with both goals coming in the first half.
With relegation looming they then made the long trip to Essex to take on Braintree Town and returned with three precious points after a 3-1 win.
Their fine away form was evident in the next game at play-off certainties Grimsby Town, and they led twice before a 92 nd minute equaliser denied them another maximum haul.
They could be playing AFC Fylde next season as they continued their fine recent form by defeating Marine 2-0 with James Dean firing over from a great chance, while Chorley are also looking upwards after they comprehensively thrashed Kendal Town 5-0 at Victory Park and mid-table Stafford Rangers 2-0 at the same venue.
Fylde then travelled to Matlock Town where a win would have landed them in 3 rd place but a 2-1 defeat left them just outside the play-off spots.
A tough trip to play-off rivals Witton Albion followed that one and the Coasters came away with three vital points after a 2-0 win with Deano an unused sub. That victory moved them up to 4 th place.
FC United are still in the hunt for a play-off position and they won 4-0 against Stocksbridge Park Steels at Gigg Lane but they then went from 3 rd to 4 th as they lost 1-0 at home to Witton Albion who took their place behind North Ferriby Town and Hednesford Town who both drew away.
The Reds then swapped places again with Albion after their defeat and FC’s 6-0 thrashing of Kendal Town.
In the Evo-stik North, Clitheroe won 1-0 against Lancaster City at Shawbridge and look to be in a strong position to make the play-offs despite losing their next game at Skemersdale United.
They then travelled the short distance to Radcliffe Borough knowing that with only five games to go, a win was essential. The home side took the lead but the Blues stormed back to win 3-1 to move within two points off a play-off spot but only three points off 2 nd place.
Curzon Ashton and Trafford will provide the Blues with stiff opposition should, as seems likely, all three of those clubs make it.
Trafford hammered Salford City 6-0 while Curzon went goal-crazy against Wakefield, winning 10-1 before a miserable turn-out of just 84. That attendance swelled to 122 for the next game in which Curzon needed a last minute goal to beat lowly Goole 3-2.
Trafford also needed a late goal to defeat Farsley 3-2 to keep up the pressure at the top but then lost their next game.
At the summit, there’s no stopping Skelmersdale United and they went a step nearer the title with the win against Clitheroe which followed by 3-1 and 2-0 home successes against Prescott Cables and Wakefield respectively.
Ramsbottom United were desperate to get back on the winning trail as they hosted neighbours Radcliffe Borough but had to be content with a share of the spoils after a 1-1 draw. Although the turn-out was down on the Farsley gate, 355 was still the envy of almost every other club in the division.
A great 3-0 win at Warrington Town kept the Blues holding onto the final play-off position before they moved up to 3 rd with a 5-1 home win against Salford City with the score at 4-0 after only half an hour.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, Padiham strengthened their title hopes with a 6-0 thrashing of Silsden but Maine Road and Bootle also show no signs of slipping up. Maine Road brushed aside Stockport Sports 3-0 while Bootle were watched by a superb crowd of 258 who saw them beat AFC Liverpool 1-0-only 92 saw their previous home game.
Padiham then travelled to Runcorn Linnets and preserved their unbeaten away record with a 0-0 draw. Keiran Fletcher kept his side in the contest with a great goal-line clearance before another ex-Robin, Martin Parkes , was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.
Another fantastic crowd, 665, saw Runcorn Town come from behind to beat Linnets 2-1.
The local East Lancs. derby saw Colne win 4-0 at Barnoldswick Town with all the goals coming after the break.
Barlick got back to winning ways with a narrow 3-2 win at Alsager Town thanks to two late goals and then defeated neighbours Bacup Borough 1-0 at home.
Ex-Robin Ed O’Neil scored the opening goal for Colne as they followed up the win at Barlick with a 2-0 success against Squires Gate at Holt House.
A poor crowd of just 22 saw Stone Dominoes concede their 144 th league goal of the season in a 6-0 home walloping by Winsford United.
In the 1 st Division, Darwen finally got back to winning ways in their big derby with Nelson at the Anchor. Another excellent three-figure crowd saw the Salmoners edge it 3-2 despite being far from their best.
They won again at the same venue, 1-0 against Eccleshall who had drawn 1-1 at Nelson a couple of days earlier.
Meanwhile the Admirals couldn’t halt the progress of Abbey Hey who won 3-1 at Victoria Park.
No stopping Formby’s relentless march to the title and Holker Old Boys proved no match for them as the Squirrels won 3-0 in front of just 31 spectators.
That crowd swelled to 70 as they took on main rivals Abbey Hey who won 2-0.
An away game at Chadderton then resulted in an easy 4-0 win and they have yet to drop a single point on their travels this season.
West Didsbury kept up the chase with a 2-1 win at Rochdale Town and a 1-0 midweek win at Eccleshall while Ashton Town are still up there after a 4-3 home win against Eccleshall.
Two more shocking turn-outs in the 1 st Division, 19 people saw four 1 st half goals seal an easy win for Irlam at Northwich Villa, while three less saw Leek CSOB defeat Oldham Borough 1-0.
Northwich then attracted only 16 for their game with Oldham which they again lost, this time 2-1.
Poor old Leek CSOB saw just 12 paying spectators pass through the turnstiles for the game with Cheadle Town but at least they went home happy as the home side won 2-1.
Woodford Town must have been fearing the worst as they entertained 8 th placed Daventry Town but a magnificent effort saw them go in at the break 0-0 before the visitors scored four unanswered goals in the 2 nd half.
They continued the fight in the next game at Chertsey Town where they trailed by just a single goal after an hour before going down 4-1.
Amazingly, after 36 defeats from 36 games, Town had still not been relegated.
Next up, second bottom North Greenford United at home, and a defeat would send the strugglers down. An unsurprising 5-2 defeat finally put them put of their misery.
There’ve been plenty of double figure scores this season and Merthyr Town produced another one, beating bottom of the table Winchester Town 10-0 in the Evo-stik S & W.
A ‘get well soon’ goes out to Harwood supporter Nick Hancock from Devon. His Western League Buckland Athletic are well on course to secure a top half finish after moving up a division in the Summer and they drew their latest game, 1-1 with Odd Down (Bath).
Matt Derbyshire returned to his old stomping ground of Ewood Park with Blackpool and must have been delighted to have been promoted to the starting line-up. He saw an early goal-bound shot blocked before sending a header just over the bar but with little service he failed to make the breakthrough and was substituted in the second half, leaving to a great ovation from both sets of fans.
In League One, Andy Procter once again had to be satisfied with a place on the bench for PNE’s home game with Portsmouth and once again his services weren’t required as the sides drew 1-1.
The bottom of League Two is as tight as ever with all the strugglers picking up good results in recent weeks.
Much to Robins’ supporter Paul Clark’s dismay, Aldershot were inactive until the end of the month thanks to the bad weather giving many of their rivals a chance to gain an advantage and this they duly did. The Shots got back in action at Rochdale and earned a point after a 1-1 draw but that wasn’t enough to lift them off the foot of the table.
A packed Home Park saw Plymouth Argyle beat local rivals Exeter City, and with Barnet drawing, things are beginning to look a little bleak for Aldershot and York City.
I met long-standing Great Harwood Town supporter Don (Fitz) Fitzgerald as he made the mammoth midweek trip to Accrington Stanley. Along with a magnificent following of around 200 Dons fans, he saw his side demolished by a fabulous display from Stanley who will surely stay up if they play anything like this. That defeat halted a run of three successive victories for the London club but they got back to winning ways in their next fixture at home to Morecambe to move well away from the bottom two.
A tough game at Rotherham United was next and they came up just short, losing 1-0.
Stanley meanwhile continued their good form and were desperately unlucky to lose by a single goal at league leaders Gillingham but gained another valuable three points in a 1-0 win at Wycombe Wanderers in the next outing.
In the Blue Square Premier League, Southport suffered their fifth defeat in a row when going down 3-1 to league leaders Kidderminster Harriers. The Sandgrounders more than held their own for almost all of the game but two goals in the last five minutes confined them to another loss leaving them just three points above the drop zone.
That sequence soon became six as Newport County beat them 2-0 at Haig Avenue in front of just 606 fans and although they broke that sequence at Gateshead, they must have left mightily disappointed after they let a two goal lead slip which they’d held until the 90 th minute. As we move into April, the Sandgrounders lie just one point above the drop zone.
I met up with Harwood supporter Paul Salt , now following his local side Altrincham, and we saw the Robins(Alty) complete their fifth win in row to strengthen their play-off hopes in the Blue Square North. Opponents Worcester City have now lost eight games on the trot after the latest 2-0 defeat.
More Robins, Southern League Bridgwater Town, saw the bad weather put paid to their fixture for the 20 th time this term and to make matters even worse, they’ve had to postpone another nine games because of cup commitments. With just a month to go before the scheduled end of the season, they still have 16 league games and at least two cup games to complete.
Just one game survived in the Evo-stik Premier League on March 23 rd and FC United made the most of it by coming from behind to beat Blyth Spartans 2-1 at Gigg Lane. An early goal looked like giving the visitors all three points until two goals in the final 10 minutes helped the Reds move back into the final play-off spot.
They maintained that position by defeating Kendal Town 5-1 away from home but AFC Fylde remain hot on their tails after two victories themselves. James Dean’s deflected shot gave the Coasters the lead at Whitby Town, a game which they went on to win 4-0. The next game, at home to Matlock Town was arranged the previous day, explaining the low turn-out of just over 200 but a fifth win in a row, 3-0, kept them well in the running for a play-off position with games in hand on the teams above them. James Dean had to be content with a place on the bench but came off it in the 69 th minute and made a decisive impact. He won a free-kick in the 84 th minute that was converted by Cooke to make it 2-0 and effectively seal the points.
It’s always a surprise-and a rarity-when Skelmersdale United are beaten and play-off chasing Trafford achieved a great result by winning 2-1 at Skem. Despite the set-back the league leaders remained 14 points clear of the pack, and that gap was maintained after their next game, a 3-0 win at Salford City.
Ramsbottom United declared that admission for their clash with Salford would be free if they attracted 1,000 for their game with Farsley but not surprisingly that attendance failed to materialise. Nevertheless, a tremendous turn-out of 446 saw the game, most of them going home disappointed after the Rams slumped to a surprise 2-1 defeat.
Clitheroe remained in 7 th spot after they lost 2-1 at improving Warrington Town but the defeat didn’t prove too costly after Curzon Ashton also lost in the big surprise of the day. Next to bottom Ossett Albion beat the high-flyers 2-0 to enhance their own prospects of avoiding the drop.
Two surprise results in the NWCFL Premier Division, leaders Padiham maintained top spot despite a 1-0 home defeat by Liverpool, and Barnoldswick Town also lost, 1-0 at St. Helens in front of a sparse crowd of 37.
Maine Road then won to take over at the top while Bootle won to close in on the Storks in 3 rd place.
Barlick then took on Winsford United at the Silentnight Stadium but despite twice taking the lead, they lost 3-2 in front of a disappointing crowd of 77 with the final two goals coming in the 87 th and 90 th minutes.
Norton United then condemned them to a third defeat in eight days, also winning 3-2.
What a game at Runcorn Town where the home side thrashed hapless visitors Stone Dominoes 10-3 with the final four goals coming in the last eight minutes. Town have now scored an amazing 126 goals in just 33 league games but what a pity that less than 100 spectators were present to witness the goal-fest.
Stockport Sports had big plans when they changed their name from Woodley Sports but things have gone far from plan this term and the attendance of just 23 for their home game with Wigan Robin Park must have been a real kick in the teeth for the club’s officials. If any of those 23 supporters left before the end to avoid traffic congestion, they will have been miffed to miss Sports’ two goals in the final three minutes which sealed a 3-1 win.
In the 1 st Division, top of the table Formby brushed aside Chadderton 5-0, with four of the goals coming before the break. A shocking ‘crowd’ of just 31 saw the action on a night when not too many fans braved the cold weather.
30 fans saw West Didsbury and Chorlton move above Darwen into 3 rd place with a great 8-2 win against Leek CSOB. It was a cruise for the Mancunians who’d wrapped the game up by half time after storming into a 5-1 lead.
The Manchester derby between Irlam and Oldham Borough could attract only 23 fans and they saw the evergreen James Curley hit two goals as Oldham won 3-0.
Only 17 people saw Holker Old Boys lose 2-1 at home to Rochdale Town and this despite leading at the break.
Abbey Hey remained in 2 nd place after coming from behind to beat Daisy Hill 4-1. The home side led after only 3 minutes but a goal just before, and another just after the break put the visitors well in control, and they put some gloss on the score with two more in the final eight minutes. As with most of the clubs in the division, the away following can’t have been too good as only 29 were present.
Hey’s home support continues to disappoint as a measly 46 witnessed a 3-0 win over fading Darwen with all the goals coming before the break. That defeat for the Salmoners followed a 3-1 loss at home to Formby who led 2-0 after only nine minutes in front of another fine turn-out of 92.
The Squirrels made it 22 wins from 24 games in great style, thrashing Northwich Villa 9-0 and it could and should have been more. Leading by five at half time, that quickly became eight with just an hour gone-what a pity that only 45 people saw the action.
West Didsbury and Chorlton also moved above Darwen after beating Daisy Hill 3-0, and the attendance of 48 was the highest of seven fixtures in the 1 st Division on the weekend.
Not too many games escaped in the south of the country but spare a thought for Southern Premier League Kettering. The bottom side lead 3-0 after an hour of their local derby at St. Neots Town but the hosts fought back to level in the final minute and seal a remarkable comeback with an injury time winner.
Harwood fan Nick Hancock saw his Buckland Athletic team win 3-1 at Radstock Town in midweek to move into the top half of the Western League Premier Division but then went down 2-0 at top of the table Bishop Sutton.
Can things get any worse for Evo-stik Central Woodford United? Yes, and they did when they hosted Biggleswade Town. Their 32 nd defeat of the campaign was also their heaviest, 10-0. Next up a trip to Aylesbury and another heavy defeat, 7-0. To cap off a calamitous eight days, they travelled to Ashford Town and suffered another 10-0 defeat.
The Women’s Welsh Premier League is the place to see plenty of goals, especially when Caerphilly Castle are in action. Their latest, and final game-they resigned from the league afterwards-was a 43-0 defeat to Cardiff Met. Ladies, bringing their ‘goals against’ column to 219 in just 10 games. Other notable defeats for the team have been 26-0, 28-0 and 36-0.
Not Matt Derbyshire’s day despite his Blackpool side coming from behind to win 2-1 at Watford. He saw his first half header brilliantly saved by the Hornets keeper and was replaced midway through the second period with ‘pool still behind.
A change of manager at PNE doesn’t appear to have helped Andy Procter’s prospects as he could only make the bench for the visit of Stevenage, and despite not being used, he was left out of the squad for the next game at Notts County when they followed up their 2-0 Deepdale victory with a 1-0 at Meadow Lane.
The Lilywhites were then seconds from gaining a tremendous point at Brentford but an injury time penalty sealed a 1-0 win for the Bees with Andy an unused sub.
Many Harwood supporters also follow League Two clubs and it looks highly likely that some of them will be watching non-league football next term as Accrington Stanley, Aldershot and Wimbledon are all struggling to avoid the drop.
A fantastic seven days for the Dons saw them win 3-2 at home to York City and 3-1 away to promotion-chasing Southend United and 1-0 at Aldershot, 9 points which moved them away from the bottom two.
Stanley slumped to second bottom after losing 2-0 at Northampton Town and 3-0 at home to Fleetwood Town, whose last visit to the Crown resulted in a similar scoreline against the mighty Robins in the North West Counties League.
The Reds then entertained fellow strugglers Barnet and hung on for a vital three points after winning 3-2, that despite almost letting a three goal lead slip away.
Aldershot looked set for a massive three points at Bradford City but a 98 th minute penalty made it a final score of 1-1.
The Shots followed that up with a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Burton Albion and the afore-mentioned home loss to Wimbledon.
In the Blue Square Premier, Southport lost to 6 th bottom Lincoln City thanks to a 14 th minute penalty, a result which keeps the Sandgrounders in mid-table. Just over 600 turned up for midweek game against play-off chasing Forest Green Rovers who came from behind to steal the points with goals in the 87 th and 90 th minutes.
Yet another defeat followed, 4-1 at Ebbsfleet leaving ‘port still nine points clear of the drop zone despite their indifferent recent form.
In the Evo-stik League, AFC Fylde brushed aside ‘whipping boys’ Eastwood Town 5-1 to move up to 8 th place while FC United continue to stutter, losing 3-1 at home to Chorley but despite that defeat, remain in 4 th place.
James Dean missed the Whites win but returned to the starting line-up when they took on Bacup Borough at the Reebok in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy Final. A great crowd of 725 saw Deano head over the game’s first chance on 14 minutes and after Fylde had taken the lead on 37, he should have made it two a couple of minutes later but headed just wide.
After 66 minutes he was through on goal but the Borough keeper dived on the ball as Deano tried to round him. On 79 minutes he was brought down in the box and the resulting spot-kick secured the win.
The Coasters then got their play-off ambitions back on track with a 2-1 win at Grantham Town. Deano had to be content with a place on the bench which he came off after 73 minutes and came close to scoring twice.
Chorley followed up their great win at Fylde with a 2-1 success at home to Buxton in front a fantastic attendance of 769. The Magpies are one of six clubs, currently outside of the play-off spots who hold realistic hopes of making it to the top five.
FC United might have to settle for a play-off place after another defeat, this time 4-1 at Worksop, and that after having led at the break.
In 1 st Division North, 5 th placed Curzon Ashton entertained 2 nd placed Ramsbottom United and it was the Mancunians who triumphed, 1-0 with Simon Garner still missing through the injury he sustained in the 1 st half of the 3-1 win against Burscough last month.
Rammy then looked to get back to winning ways as they entertained Ossett Albion, fresh from their fabulous win at Lancaster City (see below). The Blues eased into a 3-0 lead after only 15 minutes but with 18 minutes left Albion were once again making an unlikely comeback at 3-2. Three minutes later it looked like game over at 4-2 but just two minutes on, the Yorkies made it 4-3 from the penalty spot leaving the Rams to hang on for the final 13 minutes.
Leaders Skelmersdale United looked to have clinched all three points after they scored in the 89 th minute of their home clash with neighbours Warrington Town but just a minute later, Town, who now have some excellent players on their books, hit back to snatch a fine point.
Skem then got their promotion challenge back on course with a 4-1 win at Ossett Albion.
Clitheroe had little difficulty in securing three points at Prescott Cables and ran out 2-0 winners to remain 3 rd. They then strengthened their position, winning 2-1 against Cammell Laird at Shawbridge.
A great game took place at Mossley where the 4 th placed hosts took on neighbours Trafford who were 6 th. The visitors lead 2-0 at the break but Mossley stormed back to win 3-2.
Lancaster City were involved in an extraordinary game against Ossett Albion at the Giant Axe. With 90 minutes on the clock City were leading 2-0 and no doubt several spectators made their way home in happy mood. Imagine the look on their faces when they heard that Albion struck three quick-fire injury time goals to seal a remarkable win.
In the NWCFL, Padiham entertained Maine Road in a promotion ‘6-pointer’ but the leaders suffered a rare defeat, 4-3, after a great game watched by a very healthy crowd of 257.
After the Mancunians had taken the lead, Keiran Fletcher thought that his 38 th minute header had levelled the scores but the ‘goal’ was disallowed.
Martin Parkes then conceded a penalty just before the break which left the Storks 2-0 down.
They then entertained the other Runcorn side, Linnets, and conceded another four in losing 4-2 in front of 164 fans. They had led 2-0 after only 28 minutes only to see the ex-non-league giants storm back.
An away game at Glossop North End followed and the Storks looked like dropping two more points before an 88 th minute winner sealed a 3-2 win to cement their place at the top.
Barnoldswick Town were involved in another thriller at the Silentnight Stadium and a large crowd saw eight goals, five of which were scored by the visitors.
Goals galore at the weekend with Colne hitting five at home to lowly Stone Dominoes who scored just one of their own. The Reds then continued their attacking style in the next game, winning 4-1 at Silsden with hot-shot Jason Hart scoring twice to add to his single strike against Stone.
Sadly they couldn’t make it three wins in 8 days as they were held 1-1 by Stockport Sports.
In the 1 st Division, Nelson went down to the odd goal in five at West Didsbury and Chorlton while Darwen lost again, this time 2-1 at home to Rochdale. The next game at Atherton LR saw the Admirals lead 3-1 after only 23 minutes but two goals in the final 9 minutes denied them the victory.
Darwen, meanwhile, slipped to a 2-0 defeat in the second leg of their 1 st Division Trophy game at Abbey Hey and exit the competition after a 3-0 aggregate loss.
Just 42 fans watched that game and only 27 saw the other semi-final which Ashton Town beat Daisy Hill 1-0 to progress 3-0 on aggregate.
The crowd of just 33 was the highest in the 1 st Division on the Tuesday as non-league fans decided against a freezing couple of hours at a ‘real’ game, instead watching Man. United and Real Madrid on a warm sofa.
25 attended the Leek CSOB v Northwich Villa game which the hosts won 6-0, 21 saw leaders Formby win 3-0 at Ashton Town, and just 20 hardy souls watched Daisy Hill beat Holker Old Boys 3-1.
The 1 st Division title looks to be a two horse race as Formby and Abbey Hey continue to increase the gap between themselves and 3 rd placed Darwen.
Formby then showed their quality by defeating Bacup Borough 2-1 after extra time at West View in the quarter-final of the League Challenge Cup, before demolishing Atherton LR 4-0 away from home in the league.
Harwood fan Nick Hancock enjoyed a good couple of weeks as he saw his Buckland Athletic side pick up wins at home to Wells City, 4-2, and away to Odd Down, 2-1, six points which sees them rise up to 9 th in the Western League.
Poor old Woodford United made it 31 defeats from 31 games in the Evo-stik Southern League Central, losing 5-1 at home to Chalfont St Peter in front of just 34 spectators, 3-0 at Beaconsfield and 7-0 at home to Rugby Town.
Matt Derbyshire came on as a second half substitute but couldn’t help Blackpool avoid a 2-0 defeat at Eland Road against Leeds United. He was promoted to the starting line-up for the Seasiders next game at home to lowly Bristol City but once again his side failed to register on the ‘goals for’ column. The closest they came was when Matt met a 70 th minute corner and was denied by a fantastic save from the Robins’ keeper.
PNE’s recent good form continued as they drew 1-1 at MK Dons but Andy Procter had to make do with a place on the bench, a position he maintained until the end.
In the Evo-stik Premier Division, AFC Fylde travelled to an improving Blyth Spartans and blew them away with a four-goal 1 st half salvo. James Dean set up a goal on just 6 minutes and by that time the Whites were already a goal to the good. A third soon followed and Deano hit the 4 th after only 25 minutes when his shot was blocked but he was first to react to poke in the rebound. The Coasters added one more after the break with Deano making way on 78 minutes.
FCUM hosted leaders North Ferriby United desperate for a win that would see them close the gap on the leaders but despite being cheered on by the majority of a massive 2,465 crowd, they had to be content with a share of the spoils after a 1-1 draw.
A tough game at Matlock Town followed that and once again the Red Rebels could only draw, this time 2-2 while the Villagers pulled further in front after a 4-2 win at Whitby Town.
In the Blue Square Premier League, Southport needed an 83 rd minute penalty to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Dartford.
In the Evo-stik League Division One North, Ramsbottom United go marching on, beating Salford City 3-2 at Moor Lane, despite the hosts staging a late comeback from three down.
Clitheroe brushed aside Wakefield 3-0 away from home and both of our local sides made up ground on leaders Skelmersdale United after they surprisingly dropped two points at home to lowly AFC Goole. The side third from bottom of the league looked set to gain just their second win of the entire season, and inflict Skem’s second defeat as they led 2-1 going into injury time but were pegged back with a last-gasp equaliser.
Rammy then brushed aside Clitheroe without too many problems, 3-0 at the Riverside while 2 nd placed Hednesford beat improving Fylde 2-0.
Skelmersdale, who narrowly avoided defeat against Goole, again slipped up at lowly Harrogate Railway, losing 3-2, despite leading 2-1 with only 15 left to play.
At the bottom of the league, Garforth Town almost defied the odds before going down 4-3 at home to 5 th placed New Mills.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, Bacup Borough did neighbours Padiham a huge favour by defeating second-placed Maine Road 2-1 at West View thanks to two goals in the final five minutes.
Brent Peters’ boys then won 2-1 at St. Helens and the side look to be in good form going into next week’s cup final at the Reebok.
Padiham themselves also came from behind at Norton United to win 2-1, Keiran Fletcher making one of the goals, before travelling to Silsden where two first half Ben Allen goals were enough to see off the Yorkies.
Maine Road got back to winning ways at home to Barnoldswick Town, 1-0 the score in front of a very disappointing crowd of just 40.
A few days earlier, Barlick had needed a last minute goal to secure a point in a 1-1 draw at home to Wigan Robin Park.
Colne drew 1-1 at Glossop North End while Ian McGarry and Steve Pickup saw their Blackpool side take a first minute lead at Bootle only to lose the game in the 90 th minute.
Stockport Sports started the season full of optimism but their latest game shows just how far away they are from making a sustained promotion bid. They lost 8-1 at Runcorn Town who seem to have been scoring for fun for the past couple of campaigns.
In the 1 st Division Trophy semi-final 1 st leg, Darwen lost 1-0 at home to fellow high-flyers Abbey Hey, who followed that victory with another, 3-0 at home to Northwich Villa. Those three points took them into second place but their excellent season has failed to capture the imagination of the locals as just 36 saw the latest win.
Villa have had a difficult few days because the previous game saw them host leaders Formby who won 3-0 in front of just 27 supporters, an improvement on recent gates.
That game was the Squirrels first in a trio of games in just five days as they look to work their way through a huge backlog of fixtures.
The second game produced just their second league defeat of the season when they were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at Altcar Road by West Didsbury and Chorlton.
Two days later it was business as usual although hosts Nelson gave them plenty to think about during the 1 st half at Victoria Park. The Admirals led until 43 minutes when two quick-fire goals set the leaders on their way. Four more unanswered strikes made it a comfortable night in the end.
Leek CSOB are another side who find it difficult to draw a decent attendance as there latest game shows. 20 turned up and the stayathomes didn’t miss much in a goalless draw.
Matt Derbyshire had to make do with a place on the bench as Blackpool took on Leicester City at Bloomfield Road and despite coming on ten minutes from time, the Seasiders could only draw 0-0.
Andy Procter also came on as a substitute, on 82 minutes of Preston North End’s 1-1 draw at high-flying Swindon Town.
In the Blue Square Premier League, Southport lost 2-1 at home to Woking to remain in mid-table.
Dropping down a couple of leagues, AFC Fylde travelled to top-of-the-table North Ferriby United and returned across the Pennines with a tremendous three points after a 1-0 victory. Former Harwood favourite James Dean was the hero, scoring the only goal with a 79 th minute header after coming on as a second half substitute.
The Whites then thrashed bottom-of-the-table Eastwood Town 4-1 away from home in front of a paltry 98 fans.
Deano made it 3-0 in the 2 nd half with a shot from 12 yards before smashing in his side’s 4 th nine minutes from time.
Also in the Evo-stik Premier, FC United made it 8 wins in a row after a 1-0 home success against Ilkeston in front of just short of 2,000 fans at Gigg Lane.
In the 1 st Division North, Clitheroe look certain to finish in the play-off positions after drawing 0-0 at Burscough, and winning 1-0 against high-flying Mossley at Shawbridge.
Ramsbottom United continue to go from strength to strength after home wins against AFC Goole and Burscough. Improving Goole proved a tough nut to crack before the Rams edged it 1-0 before Burscough were sent back to West Lancashire with a 3-1 defeat.
In the NWCFL, the last representatives in the FA Vase, Runcorn Town, exited the competition after losing 2-1 at home to Walsall Wood in front of 233 supporters.
In the Premier League, Steve Pickup scored the 2 nd goal as AFC Blackpool defeated Stone Dominoes at Jepson Way, just a pity that only 36 supporters witnessed it.
Padiham trailed 2-1 at St. Helens before storming back to win 4-2 in a real thriller. Allen reduced the arrears from the penalty spot and repeated the trick just four minutes later to complete his hat-trick before Pickup added the ‘cherry on top’ with the fourth.
The Storks then triumphed 2-0 in the derby against Colne at the Arbories in front of a fine turn-out of 181.
Barnoldswick Town drew a fine attendance of 164 as they beat Glossop North End 3-1 before sending Silsden back over the ‘border’ after a 2-0 defeat.
Brent Peters was very unhappy with Bacup Borough’s performance as they went down 1-0 against Wigan Robin Park at West View with their efforts were put into context as Wigan has just lost 6-0 at home to Runcorn Linnets in front of a bumper crowd of 138.
In the 1 st Division, Darwen appear to be faltering, losing 2-0 at home to Oldham Borough before being held to a 1-1draw by Atherton Collieries, also at the Anchor.
Those dropped points allowed Abbey Hey to take over at the top after they won 4-0 at Eccleshall.
Nelson gave Championship favourites Formby a scare before going down 3-2 at Altcar Road.
Further south, Woodford United are still pointless after their latest defeat, 7-1 at Chalfont St. Peters.
Harwood fan Nick Hancock envisaged his ‘other side’ Buckland Athletic making a late promotion bid in the Western League but their many games in hand have counted for little, losing their last two games, 1-0 at home to Bitton and 2-1 at Brislington, leaving them 6 th from bottom.
Andy Procter was one of seven players dropped by stand-in manager John Dreyer at PNE as the Lilywhites took on League One leaders Bournemouth at Deepdale, but the ex-Great Harwood Town star at least made the bench. Andy wasn’t needed as the form book was turned on its head with Preston running out 2-0 winners.
Matt Derbyshire was handed his first Blackpool start as the Tangerines travelled to Ipswich Town and although the game-plan seemed to be ‘over the top for Matt to run on to’, it was Ipswich who took the three points courtesy of a 1-0 win.
In the Blue Square Premier League, Southport continued their good form but they had to come from behind to gain three points against Barrow at Haig Avenue. The struggling Cumbrians led 1-0 at the break but ‘port stormed back five goals in half an hour to win 5-2.
In the Evo-stik Premier, FC United rose to 3 rd place after wins at Frickley and Marine. They led 4-0 just after half time before the lowly Yorkshire club hit two consolation goals and they carried on their winning ways in the top of the table clash at Marine. Almost 1300 saw the Reds swap places with the Merseysiders after a terrific 3-0 win with Greaves hitting a hat-trick. With leaders North Ferriby United dropping two home points, the two wins put United within 13 points of the summit but they do have four games in hand.
The Red Rebels then exited the Doodson Cup after a narrow 4-3 defeat at Witton Albion, leaving them to put all their efforts into a promotion push.
AFC Fylde got an overdue win, hammering Stockbridge 4-0 at home with James Dean creating the final one.
Chorley also gained a rare victory, 1-0 at Frickley while bottom club Eastwood Town looked to be heading for just their 4 th win of the season when they led 2-0 after only 12 minutes at promotion chasing Buxton. Sadly for them, the Bucks drew level in the 2 nd half and then hit four more goals in 7 minutes towards the end of the game.
Fylde then made it through to the LFA Challenge Cup Final after a convincing 3-0 win against Kendal Town at Leyland.
Despite the game being very one-sided, it took the Whites until the 51 st minute to make the breakthrough and it was James Dean who made it. He beat the keeper to a loose ball and squared for Booth to tap in. Deano almost opened the scoring after 25 minutes when his header went narrowly wide and three minutes later he really should have done better when he headed over from 10 yards.
The win sets up a final at the Reebok Stadium against Bacup Borough on March 11 th.
In Division One North, Clitheroe remain in a play-off position but if they continue to drop home points then they’ll be slipping down the table soon. After a run of defeats they looked to be back on track, leading 2-0 against Salford City but were pegged back and had to settle for a point thanks to a last minute equaliser.
Second placed Trafford could have gone top had they beaten leaders Skelmersdale United but the visitors won 2-0, their 18 th win in 21 games. They then drew 1-1 at New Mills while Trafford clawed back two points with a 3-1 at Burscough.
Ramsbottom United dropped a couple of home points after being held to a 2-2 draw with Bamber Bridge but then hammered Harrogate Railway Athletic 4-0 at the same venue to hold their position in the final play-off spot.
The Rams then made their promotion ambitions patently clear by signing ex-Robin Simon Garner from Chorley.
Bottom side Garforth Town recently conceded their 100 th goal and they let another 6 in at Radcliffe Borough before travelling to second bottom Ossett Town. The home side had plenty of chances to pile on the agony but failed to score any of them whereas Garforth scored against the run of play and even missed a penalty to leapfrog their opponents.
In the Southern Division One Central, Woodford United succeeded in avoiding the 100 goals against but they still lost for the 26 th game in a row, 3-0 at home to Guildford City.
The NWCF League Challenge Cup 3 rd round saw Bacup Borough host Darwen and the fireworks were in evidence during a feisty clash at West View. Borough went through after a 1-0 win but not until Darwen had been reduced to ten men, a spectator had thrown a dustbin onto the pitch, players had to be restrained from ‘sorting out’ spectators, and the match officials had to endure a torrent of abuse from all present after a series of mystifying decisions, mostly on the non-award of several Darwen penalty kick appeals!!
In the same competition, Barnoldswick Town came from one down at home to 1 st Division high-flyers Formby to lead 2-1 but still went out after a 3-2 defeat, the final two Squirrels’ goals coming from the penalty spot in the 70 th and 90 th minutes.
Padiham knocked out Ian McGarry’s AFC Blackpool 1-0.
In the Premier League, Barlick recovered from their cup exit to draw 1-1 at AFC Liverpool and then win 1-0 at neighbours Colne before a fine crowd of 134.
That defeat followed Colne’s 1-1 draw in another local derby against Padiham and a 5-3 home defeat against leaders Runcorn Town, despite leading 2-1 at the break.
Squires Gate must have been relishing Stone Dominoes visit to School Lane but the side with the worst defence kept a memorable clean sheet and record a 1-0 win.
A trip to Bootle followed that disaster and an unsurprising early scoreline of 2-0 appeared to signal a similar result but Gate fought back to draw 2-2.
In the 1 st Division Nelson fell 3-0 at home to Atherton Collieries with all the goals coming in the 1 st half, and 5-1 at Abbey Hey before drawing 2-2 at Rochdale Town before a paltry 19 spectators.
Darwen won 2-1 at home to Atherton LR but Formby remain hot on their trail after beating Daisy Hill 4-3. The West Lancs. side had led 4-1 before the struggling Westhoughton side hit back to give themselves 15 minutes to find the equaliser.
The final action from the middle of the month took place at Stafford Rangers’ ground Marston Road where tenants Northwich Victoria demolished bottom side Hucknall Town 10-0 in the Evo-stik Division One South. Six players hit the target for Lee Ashcroft’s side and Town have now conceded 111 league goals this season. A great pity that just 52 supporters saw the goal-fest.
Matt Derbyshire had to be content for a place on the bench again as Blackpool hosted Barnsley and although he made a big impact when coming on after 69 minutes, it was the Tykes who hit the winner just two minutes from time. They took the lead before the Seasiders levelled in the second half and despite going down to ten men after the keeper was sent off, it was the hosts who looked the more likely winners especially after Matt’s introduction. He was just wide twice with headers and then hit a fantastic 20 yard shot that the Barnsley keeper touched onto the bar.
Better news in the next game as ‘pool hit a last minute winner to defeat Millwall 2-1.
In League One, PNE and manager Graham Westley are under plenty of pressure thanks mainly to their poor run of home results and they lost yet again, this time 2-1 to Shrewsbury. They led 1-0 at the break but the Shrews hit back and claimed all three points with a last minute penalty. Maybe the Lilywhites should give Andy Procter a run of games as they attempt to keep away from the ‘danger zone’-he was absent from the squad that faced Shrewsbury.
He re-emerged for the trip to Colchester United and saw a great header saved after 15 minutes before making way after 75 minutes of the 1-0 defeat.
In the Blue Square Premier, Southport gained a creditable point after a 2-2 draw at Hereford but the Sandgrounders left Edgar Street disappointed as they led 2-0 with just 15 minutes left. An own goal was then enough to give them maximum points at lowly Nuneaton
In the Blue Square North, Hinckley United are 23 points from safety after their latest heavy defeat and the 6-2 loss at Oxford City could have been much worse as they trailed 6-0 at half time. The latest setback left them with one point from 26 games.
In the Evo-stik League, AFC Fylde continue to struggle and they lost 1-0 at home to Chorley in the big Lancashire derby. James Dean saw an early attempt blocked before his 35 th minute shot was deflected wide. He then had a ‘goal’ chalked off for offside and was desperately close to breaking the deadlock on 66 minutes but a great save denied him. The Magpies hit the only goal on 92 minutes and Simon Garner came on from the bench a minute later as Garry Flitcroft sought to use up as much time as possible.
The Whites fared a little better in midweek as they made it through to the Lancs. Challenge Trophy semi-finals with a 3-2 home victory over Marine in front of just 63 fans at Kellamergh Park.
Chorley moved to just one place and one point outside the play-off positions but 5 th place FC United do have six games in hand and they look set for a top six finish after a 3-0 victory at close rivals Buxton in front of over 1100 fans.
If anyone at Victory Park had thoughts of making those play-offs, then their hopes came crashing down after their next game, a 6-1 home defeat to Rushall Olympic before another cracking turn out of over 500. The visitors led 4-1 at the break and 6-1 with almost half an hour to go with David Walker hitting the last four of those.
Meanwhile FC United heaped more misery on Fylde despite trailing 1-0 at the break. The Reds hit back to win 2-1 in front of another bumper attendance of over 2,000.
The bottom two met at Kendal and Eastwood Town looked doomed after the home side’s 6-0 win, but Kendal took that goal scoring form into their next game at Grantham Town. Both sides went goal-crazy in the opening 20 minutes with a goal apiece coming in the first three minutes. By the 20 minute mark the visitors led 3-2 and extended it just before the hour mark. The Gingerbreads made it 4-3 three minutes later but Kendal held on to move out of the drop zone and just two points behind their hosts with six games in hand.
In Division One North, Skelmersdale United closed the gap to just two points behind leaders Mossley after a 6-1 win at Curzon Ashton. Mossley dropped two points in a 2-2 draw at home to Salford City.
The two title contenders then clashed in front of a huge 300+ crowd and it was home side Skem who took the honours with a 2-1 win. Mossley had previously lost just one away game in 13 but despite that great record, the defeat leaves them two points behind and Skem also have six games in hand.
Lancaster City moved into the top half of the table after winning 3-0 at lowly Ossett Albion. Meanwhile, the other Ossett club, Town, won 2-0 at Clitheroe who remain in 4 th place. That defeat for the Blues was the third in a row at Shawbridge but they made some amends by winning 3-1 at Bamber Bridge. The Blues home defeat was good news for New Mills but they suffered a surprising defeat at home to Bamber Bridge, and even more surprising was the score, 5-1. The Millers then lost their 5 th game of the season, 2-0 at 2 nd placed Trafford.
Ramsbottom United went to 7 th spot after a 2-1 win against Wakefield at the Riverside before thrashing hapless Garforth Town 5-0 in Yorkshire to move up another place.
The previous week, bottom of the table Garforth had travelled to 4 th bottom Prescott Cables having conceded 97 league goals and although they avoided the dreaded century, they lost again, 1-0.
The Rammy defeat took them to that unwanted landmark and the side has failed to win any of their 11 home games this season, but despite their dismal campaign, they lie just 3 points from safety!
Another side that’s closing in on that unwanted milestone is Woodford United and the goals against column rose to 89 goals after the 5-0 trouncing, at home to lowly Northwood in front of just 32 loyal fans. They almost claimed their first point, losing just 2-1 at Barton Rovers but then lost 5-0 again at Fleet Town.
Sad to see a fans club in that league also struggling to attract supporters with AFC Hayes drawing a paltry 36 through the gate for their 4-3 defeat to former non-league ‘giants’ Aylesbury.
In the FA Vase, the NWCF League’s remaining side, Runcorn Town, are through to the 5 th round after a 2-1 win against Midland side Rocester and they’ve been rewarded with a home tie against Walsall Wood or Hanworth Villa.
In the Premier Division, 5 th placed Colne surprisingly lost 2-0 at Alsager Town while Bacup Borough also went down, 2-1 at Ashton Athletic meaning the sides swap places near the bottom of the table. Padiham fared much better, beating Norton United 4-0 and are now just two points behind leaders Maine Road with two games in hand. Barnoldswick Town won 3-0 at home to Stockport Sports with all the goals coming after the break.
Stone Dominoes held AFC Liverpool until a minute before half time but the floodgates opened thereafter, the visitors running out 6-0 winners and that’s now 94 league goals in the ‘against’ column for the Staffs. side.
The next round of games saw Barnoldswick come from one down to beat Ashton Athletic 2-1.
Runcorn Linnets also came from behind to beat Silsden 6-1 as did St. Helens who twice trailed at Glossop North End before triumphing 4-3.
Stone Dominoes defence continues to resemble a sieve and they conceded another six at Maine Road.
Padiham won again, 2-0 at Squires Gate with ex-Robin Martin Parkes back from injury.
In the 1 st Division, Nelson gained three points thanks to a 3-1 win against Cheadle Town at Victoria Park and built on that success by beating Oldham Borough 1-0 at the same venue.
Leaders Darwen were on course for a rare defeat, trailing 2-0 at Chorlton and West Didsbury at the break but stormed back to win 3-2.
Eccleshall made the very long trip to Holker Old Boys and won 2-0 in front of just 23 shivering spectators.
Buckland Athletic suffered a surprise 3-0 home defeat against Larkhall Athletic in the Western League, much to the disappointment of Harwood supporter Nick Hancock.
Another Robins fan, Paul Salt , enjoyed a much better week as he saw his ‘other’ Robins, Altrincham, storm up to 4 th place in the Blue Square North after home wins, 7-1 against the once mighty Pilgrims of Boston United, 2-0 against Gloucester City and 2-1 against Corby Town.
Harwood supporters Paul Clark and Don Fitzgerald could be watching non-league football again next season. Paul’s Aldershot side and Fitz’s Wimbledon continue to struggle at the foot of League Two and occupy the bottom two spots.
Once again the non-league programme was decimated in the latter part of the month, first with frost, then snow, then rain, meaning that the closing stages of the campaign could be chaotic unless the season is extended.
Some football was played in the southern part of the country including the Western League where Buckland Athletic missed the chance to go 7 th after being held to a goalless draw at Melksham Town.
Matt Derbyshire has signed for Blackpool on loan until the end the season so let’s hope that he finally gets a good run of first team games and shows the Seasiders fans what a good player he is. He’s still only 26 years old so if he can avoid injuries then there’s still plenty of time for him to make the headlines once again.
His first game saw him come off the bench at Wolverhampton Wanderers just after the hour mark, and with the scores level at one apiece, he had an immediate impact, being fouled in the penalty area. Unfortunately the referee didn’t see it that way and waved away the Tangerines’ protests. A second goal for hot-property Tom Ince secured the three points and made it a successful debut for the ex-Popside hero.
Andy Procter came on from the bench with 20 minutes remaining as PNE drew 2-2 with Coventry City at Deepdale.
Looking back nine years to the end of January, we lost 2-1 at Ramsbottom United in the Lancashire Challenge Cup quarter-final in front of 141 supporters, with Neil Zarac hitting our goal just three minutes from time.
In the same competition, Bacup Borough secured a fine 1-0 win at Clitheroe in front of 269 fans.
In the 1 st Division, Fleetwood Town were in 4 th place, 16 points adrift of leaders Mossley after losing 2-1 at Congleton Town.
Although the Robins were way back in 9 th place, we had several games in hand with only 3 rd placed Colne in a stronger position.
We lay 16 points behind leaders Maine Road with 6 games in hand. They needed a last minute equaliser to secure a home point against Norton United.
What a game at Atherton LR in Division One. They trailed Nantwich Town 4-0 at the break and 5-1 with just five minutes left, but hit back with three goals in those last few minutes only to be sunk by Lawton’s 90 th minute strike. Still not giving up, Rovers 17 year-old keeper Ashley Timms went up front for a corner and promptly slammed in the cross to make it a final score of 5-6.
Despite playing only a few games, Matt Derbyshire was 3 rd in the 2 nd Division scoring charts with 18 goals so far. Paul Mashiter was also right up there with 12.
We signed Brian Fogarty and Dean Lord during the week.
Colne were the toast of the NWCFL after becoming the only 2 nd Division side to reach the last 16 of the FA Vase. Future Harwood star Lee Slater was in the line up that won at AFC Wimbledon before a huge crowd of 3,215. He and the rest of the Colne contingent needed a police escort from the ground as irate Wombles players and fans found it hard to take defeat.
John Coleman, Accrington Stanley’s boss during our stay at the Crown Ground, was sacked at Rochdale after a poor run of results.
FC United were given some good news as the objections to their proposed new ground at Moston were rejected leading to hopes that work can begin soon.
As January came to a close, a few games did take place in the region and Bacup Borough made it through to the final of the final of the Lancashire Challenge Trophy thanks to an excellent 2-1 win against Padiham at West View.
In the Premier Division, Bootle suffered a rare defeat, 3-2 at Runcorn Linnets, and this after having led 2-0 at one stage.
In the Evo-stik North, Lancaster City were the only club to stage a game on the Saturday, despite the heavy snow throughout the north west, making the most of the opportunity by beating Prescott Cables 3-1.
A few days later, the Merseysiders managed to get another game in but once again they lost out, 2-1 at Bamber Bridge. Quite a surprise in the big West Lancs. derby at Burscough where the previously unbeaten Skelmersdale United lost 4-1 in front of a bumper crowd.
In the Doodson Cup, Chorley went out after a 3-2 home reverse against Cammell Laird, while FC United made it through with a 2-1 derby win at Ashton United in front of just 229 fans, although as usual, the majority were supporting the Red Rebels.
In the Blue Square North, Harrogate Town entertained Corby at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium and just 99 paying spectators turned up to see the ‘home’ side win 6-1 with all the goals coming in the second half.
In the Premier Division, over 3,000 saw Southport gain a tremendous point thanks to a 2-2 draw at Wrexham who would have gone top had they won.
At last, Matt Derbyshire managed a place on the Nottingham Forest bench for their home game against struggling Peterborough United, but despite the Reds impotent attack, he failed to get on. A late goal spared the home side’s blushes but if they continue to play so poorly, surely Matt will be given a chance to show his worth.
In the Blue Square Premier League, Southport moved into mid-table after a 4-2 win against Lincoln City at Haig Avenue.
It was then onto the FA Trophy where the Sandgrounders have Wembley firmly in their sides after they reached the last eight courtesy of a 2-0 win at Kings Lynn.
Also in the Trophy, the excellent Skelmersdale United finally exited after their tremendous run in the competition. Luton Town warmed up for the tie by thrashing Barrow 6-1 a few days before but Skem proved to be far more difficult opponents and were very unlucky to lose to goals in the 84 th and 90 th minutes.
In the Evo-stik Premier, no room for Simon Garner at fading Chorley but they gained a rare victory, beating lowly Blyth Spartans 1-0 before another superb attendance of over 600.
AFC Fylde got back on the right track as they picked up three points in a 3-2 home win against Nantwich Town. The White had in fact led 3-0 but in the end were left hanging on. Surprisingly, bearing in mind their recent unconvincing run, they lie just four points outside of the play-offs with games in hand on most of the teams above them.
FC United are just a single point from those positions after a convincing 3-0 win against Stafford Rangers at Gigg Lane, in front of a 2,131 crowd.
In the Evo-stik Division One North, Clitheroe were another of our local sides who made hard work of defeating a relegation-threatened side. They travelled to a Goole side who’s gained just 12 points from their 25 league games this term and found themselves next to bottom but after the Blues had built up a two goal lead, the Humberside outfit hit back in the second half, scoring once as well as striking the post and crossbar. Nevertheless, Clitheroe consolidated 4 th place.
Above them, 2 nd placed Trafford entertained leaders Mossley in an eagerly anticipated Manchester derby. 376 fans saw the home side close the gap by winning 2-0.
Ramsbottom United lie in 9 th place after they were beaten 3-2 by 5 th placed New Mills at the Riverside. A cracking turn-out of 300 saw the Millers build up a three goal lead before Rammy made the score respectable late on.
Also in Division One North, Garforth Town made it 97 goals in the ‘against’ column as they were hammered 5-1 at home to Burscough.
In the NWCFL, Barnoldswick Town found themselves two goals down inside 7 minutes against Runcorn Linnets and could only pull a single goal back by the end.
Colne remained 4 th by defeating Congleton Town 1-0 in a close game but the Reds must have been disappointed by the attendance of just 58.
Bacup travelled to leaders Maine Road and took a shock 2 nd minute lead but the Mancunians fought back to win 2-1 and remain top of the tree.
Padiham are just behind them in 2 nd place after a 1-1 draw at Stockport Sports and the Blues have three games in hand. The draw meant that they’ve now lost just twice from their last 22 games.
Good news for those two clubs was the defeat for Bootle, 2-1 at Wigan Robin Park, but the Merseysiders do have six games in hand on Maine Road.
In the 1 st Division, our two local sides met at Victoria Park and although lowly Nelson led 1-0 at the break, Darwen hit back to win 2-1 with the second goal a brilliant team effort, passing their way from the left back position to the winning strike, a goal that can be seen on ‘u-tube’. The Salmoners remain top and must surely be in line for a promotion spot if they continue to play like they did in the second half.
We’ve been keeping an eye on Woodford United of the Evo-stik Southern Central and their woe continues through January. They travelled to Burnham for a mid-week game and found themselves 6-0 down at the break but the good news is that conceded just one more goal in the 2 nd half.
They then entertained Slough, who not surprisingly won, 4-1, and that’s now 22 league defeats in a row and 84 goals against.
In the Blue Square South, title favourites Salisbury City entertained relegation certainties Truro City and as usual, the Cornish side were out of luck. The home side led 2-0 at the break but Truro defied all the odds and were level just three minutes after the re-start. Salisbury re-gained the lead on 67 minutes but were pegged back three minutes later. A morale-booting point was on the cards until the 90 th minute when the leaders scored the 7 th and final goal of the evening.
Once again, little to report on as the weather decimated the non-league programme but here’s what was happening in the NWCFL at this time seven years ago-our final season.
In Division One, Skelmersdale United led the way, two points ahead of Alsager Town although they had played two games more. Cammell Laird were the team of the moment having won 14 of their 17 games and they were 16 points behind with seven games in hand. Ramsbottom United were in mid-table having drawn 15 of their 26 games while Colne and Bacup Borough were well clear of the relegation danger zone.
In the 2 nd Division, FC United led the way, 14 points clear of the chasers with 17 wins and just a single defeat from their 22 games. Winsford United Padiham and Flixton were still in contention but the rest were way behind. The mighty Robins lay in 6 th place, just in front of Nelson and Darwen.
Castleton Gabriels propped up the division, still waiting for their first win after 19 games.
Nelson hosted FC United at the Crown and drew over 2,000 fans while NWCFL sides Cammell Laird, Nantwich Town and Squires Gate all made it through to the FA Vase 5 th round.
Harwood’s 1-0 win over Leek CSOB was our 702 nd league point. Ed O’Neil scored our only goal in front of 58 spectators while an astonishing 3,549 noisy fanatics cheered FC United to a 2-1 home win against Ashton Town following on from the 3-1 win against Nelson.
Alsager Town, struggling at the moment with dwindling crowds, drew 232 for their league game with Curzon Ashton which they won 2-1, Rammy hosted Salford City at the Riverside and over 200 fans witnessed the 2-2 draw, while the enigmatic Stuart Rudd notched a hat-trick as Skelmerdale defeated St. Helens Town 6-1. That made it 21 goals in just 24 games for Rudd while Paul Fildes had fared even better for Padiham with in the 2 nd Division with 19 goals from 19 games.
Stone Dominoes continued to struggle as they were thrashed 7-1 at home by Silsden.
A Hopley hat-trick helped Winsford United to a 3-2 win against Darwen at the Anchor and Nelson won 2-1 at Daisy Hill.
The FA Cup 3 rd round saw Nottingham Forest, Matt Derbyshire’s parents club, host Oldham Athletic, the club that he’s been with for the last couple of months, and as Forest recalled the Harwood legend, one would have imagined that he’d be given a chance by the new manager-but no. He’s failed to make the bench in recent weeks and was cup-tied for the 3 rd round game, but he must have wondered why as the Reds were dumped out of the competition by their League One opponents. A 1 st half own goal gave Forest the edge but three goals in seven 2 nd half minutes saw the Latics progress despite last minute consolation from the home side.
PNE travelled to seemingly doomed Hartlepool and scraped home by the only goal with Andy Procter coming on as a sub. with just 4 minutes to go.
The Lilywhite then succumbed 1-0 at Millwall in the FA Cup but despite the close scoreline, North End exited with barely a whimper, Andy being an unused sub.
In the Blue Square Premier, Southport were involved in a real ‘6-pointer’ at Telford and came out on top with a comfortable 3-1 win, amassing 13 shots on target while the Shropshire side managed just 2. A home win could have seen Telford swap places with ‘port but they remain 4 th from bottom while the Sandgrounders move into mid-table.
Spare a thought for Blue Square South Truro. They remain bottom despite a Herculean effort at 2 nd placed Welling. They built up a 3-1 half time lead which they kept until the 62 nd minute when player-manager Lee Hodges was sent off for a foul in the penalty area. Welling scored from the spot and eventually equalised but Truro looked set for a fine point until the 94 th minute when the home side struck to win 4-3.
In the Evo-stik Premier League, Simon Garner had to be content with a place on the bench for Chorley as they made the short journey to Kendal Town. They trailed 1-0 at the interval but stormed back to win 4-1 with Simon entering the fray in the 77 th minute.
The Magpies then travelled to high-flyers Hednesford and Simon came on from the bench a little earlier, in the 55 th minute, but was substituted himself 25 minutes later suffering from double vision, possibly a consequence of the ‘free for all’ that took place when he found himself in the referee’s notebook for his part in the affair.
AFC Fylde enjoyed a fantastic 4-0 win at Marine although James Dean failed to find the target but their poor recent run of results returned as they lost 1-0 at Buxton in their next outing.
A Doodson Cup tie at Witton Albion soon followed as did another defeat, 3-1.
In the same competition, the seemingly invincible Skelmersdale United hosted Cammell Laird and after 2-2 draw, Laird won 3-0 on penalties.
FC United led 2-0 at Nantwich Town but were pegged back before clinching the three points with an 83 rd minute winner.
In the Evo-stik South it was a case of unlucky 13 for Hucknall Town as they lost 13-0 at Loughborough Dynamo. With 35 minutes of the contest gone, the home side remarkably were only 1-0 up and by the break were just three goals to the good but an incredible six goals in nine minutes after the re-start made it a night to remember for the 122 lucky spectators inside the ground. Almost as incredible was the fact that nine different players managed to get themselves on the scoresheet.
Staying with the ‘incredible’, Loughborough then hosted Northwich Victoria and the attendance dropped to just 110 !!
How anyone could witness a 13 goal thriller then fail to support the team in the next game is beyond comprehension. The home side led 1-0 at the break but Vics. hit back to win 3-1. Northwich then made another short trip, to Chasetown, and after a goalless 1 st half, the home side took the lead before Vics. went nap to win 5-1.
In the North, Ramsbottom United hosted their near-neighbours Radcliffe Borough and a crowd of just under 300 saw the Rams triumph 3-2. Another derby game followed for the Blues, at Bamber Bridge, where they drew 1-1.
Clitheroe managed a 2-2 draw against Lancaster City at the Giant Axe before hosting Radcliffe. After a close opening 70 minutes, Borough scored three times in 18 minutes to seal the victory.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, Bacup Borough lost 4-2 to high-flyers Bootle and the Merseysiders moved to within 6 points of the summit with 6 games in hand.
Colne moved up to 5 th thanks to the three points they gained from a 3-1 win at St. Helens.
Barnoldswick Town enjoyed a superb 4-1 win at Stockport Sports while Ian McGarry’s Blackpool won 4-2 at lowly Stone Dominoes in front of just 22 spectators.
In the 1 st Division, Darwen moved back to the top of the table after an emphatic 6-0 home win against Northwich Villa in front of an impressive crowd of just under 100.
Nelson trailed 3-0 at Atherton Collieries but fought back to 3-2 before the home side sealed the points with a further two strikes of their own.
Formby must still be favourites for the title as they won 7-1 at Eccleshall and are 10 points behind the Salmoners with 8 games in hand. Amazingly, the Squirrels have played only 10 league games this season and the prospect of three or four games a week towards the end of the campaign could yet be their downfall.
Matt Derbyshire’s loan spell at Oldham Athletic has ended after parent club Nottingham Forest re-called him, no doubt due to the change of manager at the City Ground. Sadly, he failed to make the squad for the next three games and with no reserve side, he may find himself out of action for some time to come.
The Latics meanwhile, are missing him, and two home defeats saw them plummet towards the relegation zone. After the second of those games, three of manager Paul Dickov’s backroom staff were shown the exit door.
Better news for Andy Procter though as he has started the last couple of games for PNE and has been arguably their best player. Against Bury at Deepdale, he saw his 3 rd minute shot tipped behind by the Shakers’ keeper and 20 minutes later his goal-bound shot appeared to have been handled wide of the post by a defender. Just before the break he had the ball punched off his head as he looked certain to put the Lilywhites ahead. He was substituted after 56 minutes, due more to fatigue than anything else.
PNE then entertained a Doncaster Rovers side who showed exactly why they have the best away record in the league by winning 3-0. Andy was one of very few positives for the home side and it was he who had their first shot on target after 52 minutes. Once again he was withdrawn, after 74 minutes, but had surely done enough to keep his place in the New Year.
The month ended with yet more bad weather causing chaos for the local non-league sides. In the Evo-stik Premier Division, AFC Fylde made the most of their only game, winning 4-0 at home to Kendal Town in front of just over 300 fans.
Chorley also recorded an excellent attendance despite their poor form over the last couple of months. Just under 600 saw them gain a rare victory at Victory Park, 1-0 against Marine.
Neighbours Bamber Bridge also made the most of their home game in Division One North,, coming from 3-2 down to beat Lancaster City 4-3.
Clitheroe entertained Ramsbottom United who cruised to a 3-1 win thanks to a Lee Gaskell hat-trick in front a fine 357 crowd.
One side who didn’t see a bumper holiday crowd for a ‘derby’ game was Cammell Laird who beat Prescott Cables 5-2 in front a shocking turn-out of just 38.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, 226 witnessed a great 3-0 win for Padiham against Barnoldswick Town at the Arbories, but that attendance was more than doubled at the Runcorn derby between Linnets and Town which ended 1-1.
The closest neighbours, Squires Gate and AFC Blackpool could muster only 72 which the visitors won 2-0, much to the delight of ex-Great Harwood Town boss Ian McGary who is on the staff at Jepson Way.
In the 1 st Division, Nelson had a very good 3-0 home win against Holker Old Boys while there were some thrillers elsewhere.
The Oldham derby saw Chadderton entertain Borough and the visitors had just about wrapped the game up inside quarter of an hour having built up a 3-0 lead. Chadderton did score two of their own before half time but so did Oldham and with less than an hour played, they led 7-2. Chaddy tightened up for the final half hour conceding just one more goal.
Another away side enjoyed a good win, Cheadle Town coming out on top 5-3 at Irlam but after they were cruising 4-0 after 54 minutes, Irlam hit back to make it 4-3 just before the end.
In the Blue Square Premier, Southport let a two goal lead against Macclesfield slip away before a late goal gave them a fine victory in front of over 1100 fans at Haig Avenue.
Another four-figure crowd turned out for their next home game three days later when the Sandgrounders could have leap-frogged opponents Hyde into mid-table security with a win. Sadly they lost 1-0 and with the majority of the league being so tight, the result saw the Tigers rise to 9 th, while Southport remained in 18 th.
In the Evo-stik SLP, Kettering won again, 4-3 at Hitchin but they remain 16 points behind the days opponents who sit 3 rd from bottom.
In Division One Central, Woodford United made it 19 defeats in a row as they lost 3-0 at Daventry Town but amazingly they sit just 4 points behind North Greenford and 9 behind Chertsey Town.
In the Ryman Division One North it was the battle of the ‘bridges’ although lowly Redbridge didn’t put up much of fight at 2 nd placed Heybridge. The home side ran out 11-0 winners and it could have been much worse as they led 10-0 with 25 minutes still to play.
Harrogate Town have ended twice our interest in the FA Cup in recent seasons and they must have been looking forward to a gigantic 3 rd round tie after being drawn at home to the lowest ranked team left in the competition, Hastings United. The game ended in a draw as did the replay but the Sussex side triumphed in a penalty shoot-out to set up a third round tie at Championship Middlesbrough.
Andy Procter made his first start of the season for PNE but was subbed along with ex-Boston United star Anthony Elding soon into the second half of the Lilywhites goalless draw at Portsmouth.
He was again in the starting eleven for the next game, a Johnstones Cup tie at Bury, and was involved in plenty of action as North End went through 5-4 on penalties after an exciting 3-3 draw. The visitors took the lead but the Shakers equalised in controversial circumstances when the PNE keeper kicked the ball out for Andy to receive treatment, but instead of returning the ball, Bury played on and soon scored. North End re-gained the lead when the home stopper punched the ball out to the edge of the box where Andy showed great control before firing a superb shot into the bottom corner of the net.
As the 90 minutes came and went, PNE were leading 3-2 but five minutes into stoppage time, Bury made it 3-3 to take the tie into extra time.
Andy scored PNE’s first kick, as did the next seven players before Bury missed one.
Not surprisingly, he began the again as the Lilywhites travelled to the Ricoh to take on Coventry. The ex-Robin played in front of a middle four and was at the heart of most good things that his team did. He took just four minutes for his first shot, a 25-yard effort which was well saved.
On 30 minutes he came agonisingly close to connecting with a cross and just into the second half he saw another well saved but soon afterwards he was substituted after appearing to be ill.
A poor display by Oldham Athletic saw their recent good run come to an end as they were beaten 2-0 by Swindon Town at Boundary Park. Matt Derbyshire was well shackled throughout and failed to have much impact on a solid Robins’ defence.
James Dean was on target for AFC Fylde but he couldn’t stop them from suffering a surprise 3-2 home defeat to Ilkeston. After the visitors had taken a first half lead, Deano set up the equaliser for Barnes with a terrific through ball and after the Coasters had fallen behind again, the roles were reversed as Barnes fed Dean who scored with a great half volley. Ilkeston took the lead for the third time 10 minutes into the second period and this time they held on until the end.
He was on target again for the following game at Stafford Rangers. He headed in from a corner but the home side were already 3-1 up and they scored again before the end.
Chorley continue to struggle but they must have expected to get back on the winning trail as they hosted next to bottom Stocksbridge and things looked to be going to plan as they led 1-0 with 15 minutes left but the Yorkshire side struck back to earn a point thanks to an 88 th minute equaliser. The visitors eventually finished with nine men thanks to two sendings off. The Magpies have now gone eight games without a win and any promotion hopes they had at the beginning of the campaign are quickly disappearing.
Meanwhile Simon Garner is back from his loan spell at Bradford PA but spent the entire 90 minutes shivering on the bench.
FC United won 1-0 against Grantham Town thanks to a last minute Wolfenden goal.
Kendal Town have been promotion contenders in recent seasons but that looks highly unlikely this time round after they lost manager Lee Ashcroft to Northwich Victoria and several players who followed him there.
In Division One North, Clitheroe hosted a Garforth Town side who had conceded an average of over four goals a game and when the Blues made it 3-1 on the hour mark the Shawbridge faithful must have been expecting a goal-fest but 3-1 is how it stayed.
They then travelled to Farsley for a Doodson Cup tie but were well beaten 4-1.
Plenty of goals in the Southern based leagues with leaders Hemmel Hemstead smashing eight past lowly Hitchin who hit two of their own.
The only team below them Kettering Town, finally got their first win of the season as they defeated Chesham 3-1 to move onto -2 points but they were back to earth with a bang in their next outing at lowly Gosport Borough where they were hammered 7-0.
Back they came again at Barwell where they won 2-1.
Division One Central Woodford United with 16 defeats in a row this season hosted 4 th bottom Thatcham Town with high hopes of gaining their first point but four goals in each half by the visitors sealed a magnificent 8-1 victory.
They then took on Leighton Town at home and things were going very well as they led 4-2 at the break, but true to form, the visitors scored three goals without reply after half time to win 5-4.
The majority of minor non-league games were postponed during the middle part of the month but a few games did survive.
In the North West Counties League Colne beat visitors Runcorn Linnets 2-0 with Hart on target once again. Bacup Borough lost by the same score at Glossop North End while Padiham are now just three points behind leaders Maine Road, with two games in hand, after their 4-1 win against Ashton Athletic at the Arbories.
Bacup managed to progress into the Lancs. Trophy semi-final after defeating Daisy Hill 2-1 at West View in front of only 28 spectators.
Norton United looked doomed just a few weeks ago but their incredible turnaround continued as they beat Silsden 5-3. United were already two goals to the good after only 3 minutes and had the game in the bag by the break when they were 3-0 up.
Long time 1 st Division leaders Darwen have lost the top spot after Ashton Town won 5-0 at Daisy Hill while the Anchor Ground was deemed unfit for their scheduled game.
It was a case of deja-vu for Southport as they took the lead at Stockport County in the 2 nd round of the FA Trophy but just like in the recent league game at Edgeley Park, the Hatters hit back to draw.
No such problems in the replay as the Sandgrounders won 3-1.
In the same competition, there’s no stopping Skelmersdale United as they knocked out another Blue Square North side. Guiseley are currently flying high in the league having won 14 of the 18 games but they went down 2-0 to the Evo-stik side.
Poor old Cornard United of the Eastern Counties League have lost their opening 16 games of the season although they did manage a narrow 2-0 defeat to Halstead Town recently. That was a big improvement as their goals against column testifies, currently numbering 82, whilst they’ve managed to score just 6 goals themselves.
Saltdean United, from the Brighton area, plying their trade in the Sussex County League, have even more defensive problems. Although they’ve played only 17 games, they’ve now conceded an incredible 104 goals after their latest thrashing, 8-0 at home to Little Common.
In the Non-League Fantasy League, ‘Great Harwood Town’ have failed miserably again, currently lying in 759 th place from 1,636 entrants but that’s pretty good compared with the ‘Boston Danglers’ who find themselves in 1,352 nd spot.
Finally for this section, we have to end on the ridiculous decision by the BBC to drop the fantastic Friday night non-league hour on Radio Lancashire. This has got to be the best football show on the radio but thanks to so-called cutbacks, the hierarchy has deemed fit to ditch it-UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Only one place to start this month even though it’s non-league, Fleetwood Town(AKA Andy Pilley)have decided to dispense with the services of their most successful manager in the club’s history by showing Micky Mellon the door at Highbury.
Mellon’s record at Fleetwood is nothing short of phenomenal but after the FA Cup defeat to Aldershot-which will have delighted Great Harwood supporter Paul Clark-he was shown the exit door.
When interviewed on the radio, Pilley was asked if the new manager would HAVE to get the side promoted, he replied that PROGRESS was the only remit. Pity that Micky Mellon didn’t achieve progress every season then !!!!!!
Obviously there’s more to this affair than meets the eye and the ex-manager will surely encounter little difficulty in finding a job in the game sooner than later.
Just like in our final season, the beginning of the month saw dreadful weather resulting in many fixtures being postponed. We ended November with a terrific 6-0 win at Castleton Gabriels but had to wait three weeks for our next action when we won 2-0 at Oldham Town. Castleton meanwhile, followed up that home defeat with a 10-2 embarrassment at Gigg Lane against FC United.
Matt Derbyshire finally got back amongst the goals after a run of nine games. Oldham Athletic’s FA Cup tie at home to high-flying Doncaster Rovers saw the Latics win 3-1 to set up a trip to Matt’s employers Nottingham Forest who no doubt won’t allow the ex-Robin to take part in. The 2 nd round game saw Donny take an early lead before Oldham equalised and Matt then scored two simple tap-ins in 7 second half minutes to take them through in front of a paltry crowd of less than 3,000.
The next game, a League One fixture at Colchester United, gave Oldham more joy after a 2-0 win with Matt claiming the second goal. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I must report that it was surely an own goal as a defender kicked the ball towards his own goal, where it hit another defender on the line. He looked in every direction, then skywards, in an effort to find out where the ball was. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t look downwards and as he swivelled around like a man who’d just knocked back 20 pints, he touched the ball over the line-Matt, you’re having a laugh!!
Still no game time for Andy Procter at PNE but he did get on the pitch for the final 16 minutes of North End’s 2-0 home victory against Gillingham.
The next home game saw him remain on the bench throughout as his side were comprehensively beaten 3-1 by Crewe Alexandra.
In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Chorley and AFC Fylde are side by side in mid-table but the Coasters are just a point behind with seven games in hand.
Simon Garner’s Chorley are struggling at the moment and their recent poor form continued as they lost 1-0 at Ilkeston.
Fylde meanwhile hammered Grantham 5-3 at Kellamergh Park in a game which looked like being a rout when James Dean made it 4-0 just before the break. The Coasters then made it five not long after the interval but the Gingerbreads pulled a goal back soon afterwards when the home keeper conceded a penalty for which he was sent off. Two more strikes made it a nervous last ten minutes but Fylde held on comfortably.
In the 1 st Division North, Clitheroe suffered two away defeats to leave them in 3 rd place although they have played more games than most of their rivals. They came from a goal down at Cammell Laird to lead but the Birkenhead side hit back to win 3-2 in front a shocking crowd of just 38.
They then travelled to lowly Harrogate R.A. who won 4-2 thanks to goals in the 80 th and 90 th minutes. The Blues had earlier fought back from a two-goal half time deficit to level with just 13 minutes to play.
Ramsbottom United are finding life on the road rather more to their liking than games at the Riverside this season. They’ve won just two home fixtures whilst they’ve now enjoyed seven away wins, the latest a 6-1 thrashing of Ossett Albion. The Yorkshire side must have been fearing a repeat of that home loss as their next game saw visitors Goole storm into an early 2-0 lead, but they hit back to win 3-2.
Bottom of the table Garforth Town have now conceded an average of more than four goals a game after their latest thrashing at home to Curzon Ashton. Town actually took the lead before conceding six goals to the Mancunians who are now just two points from the play-off positions.
In the Evo-stik Southern Division One Central League, Woodford Town are currently averaging only 3 ½ goals conceded each game but after 16 games they’ve yet to pick up a single point and their total of just seven goals scored suggests that they’re not about to turn the corner any time soon.
Local interest ended in the FA Vase as Barnoldswick Town went down 3-1 to AFC Emley at the Silentnight Stadium in front of over 200 supporters.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, lots of game falling foul of the wet and freezing weather but Padiham managed three games during the early part of the month. Ben Allen scored twice in four second half minutes to seal a 2-0 win at Wigan Robin Park before the Storks entertained Bamber Bridge in the quarter-final of the Lancs. Challenge Trophy. They made it through after an excellent 3-2 win and they then moved up to 2 nd place in the league after a 1 st half hat-trick from Allen helped them to a 4-0 success against Stone Dominoes.
Colne gained a fine point in a 2-2 draw at Runcorn Town with Hart on target once again. Ex-Harwood star Ed O’Neil produced a great run and cross which almost sealed the three points for the Reds.
In the 1 st Division, Darwen led twice at Cheadle Town but had to be content with a point from a 2-2 draw, a result that saw Abbey Hey move within a point of the leaders after they won.
Ashton Town are enjoying their best season for many years but the public appear to have little interest. Their latest win, 7-1 against Northwich Villa, was watched by just 23 spectators.
In the Blue Square Premier Division, Southport hosted Braintree Town in a ‘six-pointer’ and two goals in five second-half minutes from the visitor’s Marks sealed the points for the Essex side which leaves them just a point behind the Sandgrounders with a game in hand.
Harwood Supporter Nick Hancock from Devon must be delighted with the progress of his 1 st love Buckland Athletic as they march up the Western League. A few weeks ago they were in the relegation places but after a series of wins they now occupy a mid-table position.
The latest victory was a fantastic 5-0 win against 4 th placed Hallen and although 17 points behind the leaders Brislington, they can’t be discounted against making a serious promotion challenge.
Our best FA Vase run saw us reach the last eight of the competition when we were eliminated by Littlehampton Town and they ‘bit the dust’ this week when they were beaten in a 2 nd round replay by Hanworth Villa.
PNE could only draw 0-0 at home to Notts County and fared even worse at Leyton Orient, going down to a comprehensive 2-0 defeat with Andy Procter nowhere to be seen.
Oldham Athletic followed up their midweek win at Hartlepool with another maximum haul against Shrewsbury Town at Boundary Park. Matt Derbyshire’s brilliance on the right wing ended with a cross that was converted by Grounds to score the only goal of the game.
Simon Garner made his debut for Bradford Park Avenue after his loan move from Chorley. He lasted an hour before making way as the Tykes lost 3-1.
He was missing from the next two games and after the 4-0 home success against Hinckley United and a 6-1 win at Workington, which moved them into 4 th place, he may struggle to regain his place.
His parent club Chorley entertained inconsistent FC United and were unlucky to go down 2-1 thanks a great late winner in front of 1130 fans. The Reds needed those points after another home defeat, 1-0 against Marine.
AFC Fylde drew 1-1 at Frickley in the Evo-stik Premier Division and now lie in 11 th place. James Dean came on as a 60 th minute substitute with the Coasters one down and he was about to knock in the equaliser but was beaten to it by defender Buck who scored an own goal.
In the 1 st Division North, unbeaten Skelmersdale United found themselves 2-0 down at home to Salford City with just 20 minutes left but stormed back to win 3-2.
They then travelled to York Street in the FA Trophy to take on the mighty Boston United, two divisions above them, and earned a replay after a fine 1-1 draw. Even down to 10 men they gave as good as they got in the final minutes.
Also in the Trophy, Southport eased through, winning 4-0 at Stafford Rangers.
Back in the Evo-stik, New Mills opened up like a house on fire at home to Garforth Town to lead 3-0 only for the visitors to hit back before the interval and go in just a goal down, but in the second period the Derbyshire outfit scored six more without reply. When Great Harwood Town were in the NWCFL, New Mills were always amongst the best supported clubs but only 71 saw this latest gaol bonanza.
Another club to hit nine during the week was Witton Albion who won 9-1 at home to Middlewich Town in the Mid-Cheshire Cup despite only leading 2-1 at the break.
Ramsbottom United lost by the odd goal in seven against Curzon Ashton at the Riverside with Dennis scoring all of the Mancunians goals before a good attendance of 199.
Clitheroe kept up the pressure at the top, winning 2-0 against Prescott at Shawbridge.
In the NWCFL, Colne enjoyed a fabulous 6-0 derby victory over Bacup Borough at Holt House with Jason Hart hitting another hat-trick. He then hit another, his 22 nd of the season in the next game at home to Maine Road but it wasn’t enough as the Reds went down 2-1.
Bacup lost again, 3-1 at Winsford United while Squires Gate slumped to another defeat after their great win against Stockport Sports, 4-1 at home to Runcorn Town.
Sports meanwhile suffered again, losing 4-0 at Padiham with the Storks hitting all four in the first half including three in the opening 11 minutes.
Barnoldswick Town lost ground on the leading pack after losing 2-1 at rivals Congleton Town.
The cold wet weather appeared to keep spectators away from the 1 st Division Trophy games with the following turn-outs.
Atherton Collieries, 33, for their 3-1 defeat by Rochdale Town.
Cheadle Town, 30, who saw the home side go down 3-0 to Ashton Town.
High-flying Abbey Hey, 28, for the 2-0 win against Nelson.
Daisy Hill, 25, as they went through 2-1 against Eccleshall.
Holker Old Boys, 20, to see the 3-1 win against Irlam.
Last and definitely least, Northwich Villa, 5 (five) who saw an easy 3-0 win against Chadderton.
Darwen drew the highest attendance of the round, 70, who enjoyed a 2-0 victory against Oldham Borough with Hession again on target.
The Salmoners have re-signed ex-Robin Richard (tricky-Dicky) Fogarty.
In the FA Trophy, two great results for clubs who’ve crossed swords with Harwood in the not too distant past. Firstly, a car full of Robins supporters travelled to see Skelmersdale United take on Boston United in a replay and the underdogs deserved their 2-1 victory. The West Lancs. College Stadium is the third Skem ‘home’ ground which I’ve seen them perform on. Loyal Harwood supporters will remember our last away game there when they played at Burscough-and we’ll never forget Neville Nelson’s 30-yard ‘rocket’.
The last time I visited Matlock Town’s Causeway Lane was to see Harwood gain an easy victory in the Northern Premier League but things are rather different now and like Skelmersdale, they forced a terrific draw at higher placed opponents, before winning through on their own ground. Mansfield Town were despatched rather more easily than the 2-1 scoreline suggests and the Gladiators reward is a home tie with FA Cup heroes Dorchester Town.
Further afield, crisis club Kettering Town continue to struggle on and off the pitch, ending the month with heavy defeats against Bedworth and Bideford to leave them stranded on -5 points after 14 games. The only bright note was the home attendance for the 4-1 home defeat to Bedworth, over 400.
The Lancashire Challenge Trophy gave Darwen a trip to the competition’s leading side, Southport. We played there a few years ago, and after the original tie at the Showground was postponed several times, it was switched to Haig Avenue, only to be called off again due to a burst water pipe in the dressing rooms!
I couldn’t make the Harwood game when we lost 4-1 with John Eastham scoring the goal. This time I travelled to the game on the Darwen supporters coach and was amazed to see over 50 of their fans in attendance-a following which we never matched while I was involved with the Robins.
Goals in the 2 nd and 28 th minutes for the Sandgrounders effectively won the tie but Darwen knuckled down after that and gave as good as they got, coming close on a couple of occasions and hitting the bar late on.
Bacup Borough enjoyed a terrific and well deserved win at Evo-stik Radcliffe Borough. The visitors twice led with the 2 nd goal coming in the 90 th minute but with the home fans ready at the exits, they forced penalties with a last-gasp leveller. Bacup then won the shoot-out 4-3.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, Barnoldswick Town won 2-0 at Squires Gate while in the 1 st Division, Nelson conceded three 1 st half goals at struggling Holker Old Boys before eventually going down 4-0.
Romulus of the Evo-stik Division One South were unlucky to lose 2-1 at home to Hednesford Town in the FA Trophy but the game must have taken a lot out of the players because just two days later they lost a League game at Belper Town 9-0.
Matt Derbyshire and his Oldham Athletic team-mates held Bournemouth at bay for 70 minutes at Dean Court before they capitulated to concede four quick-fire goals whilst scoring just a single late consolation themselves.
A midweek trip to lowly Hartlepool gave them the opportunity to get back to winning ways, and this they did but it was anything but plain sailing.
Just 91 fans followed the Latics North East and they saw Matt intercept a sloppy pass from the home keeper to set up fellow forward and loanee Baxter to open the scoring but Pools came back to equalise.
Into stoppage time Oldham were awarded a penalty which led to a dispute between Baxter and Matt with the former eventually taking the spot-kick. He shot was saved but his blushes were saved when he knocked in the rebound.
With new additions to the PNE squad, Andy Procter’s hopes of breaking into the starting eleven are becoming more remote and he was omitted from the ‘16’ once again as the Lilywhites drew 1-1 at home to high-flying Brentford.
In the Evo-stik League, AFC Fylde came from behind to take an 86 th minute lead against Worksop Town but the visitors hit back with 90 th minute leveller. James Dean remaining on the bench throughout.
Chorley’s poor run continued as they lost 1-0 at home to table-toppers North Ferriby United. That made it five games without a win although they more than held their own in this one only to go down to a last minute strike. Simon Garner has left the Magpies in search of more first team opportunities and he’s signed for Bradford Park Avenue on loan.
In Division One North, Clitheroe’s good form continued, coming from a goal behind at New Mills, to win 2-1.
Ramsbottom slipped up, losing 2-1 at Trafford while FC United look far from promotion contenders this term, their latest set-back a 4-0 home drubbing by Rushall Olympic before almost 1800 fans.
In the NWCFL, Bacup Borough defeated AFC Liverpool 1-0 at West View while post-McKenna Squires Gate moved out of the bottom two with a great 2-0 win at home to Stockport Sports. That result proved too much to take for Sports boss Peter Withe who resigned afterwards.
Colne recorded a tremendous 7-0 win at ‘whipping boys’ Stone Dominoes watched by only 24 spectators and they’ve now seen their side concede an average of almost four goals a game.
In the FA Vase, Barnoldswick Town marched through to the next round after a 5-2 home win against Armthorpe Welfare but the result was in doubt until the last few minutes despite the convincing scoreline as Barlick scored twice in the last five minutes.
Norton United gained a great 1-0 win at Deeping Rangers and followed that with another superb effort at league leaders Maine Road where they drew 1-1. That point moved them up to 16 th place in the Premier Division.
In the League Challenge Cup, Darwen recovered from their defeat at Southport to thrash improving Holker Old Boys 5-1 away from home with Hession and Brown both scoring a brace.
Sean O’Driscoll allowed Matt Derbyshire to become ‘cup-tied’ by playing for Oldham Athletic at Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup 1 st round, a decision that shows Matt is no longer in the Nottingham Forest boss’s future plans. That could be a mistake for while the Latics made it through to round two, Forest were getting thumped 4-1 by Millwall at the City Ground.
Oldham Athletic looked to have a tricky tie at Aggborough but they eased to a comfortable 2-0 win with Matt having a 26 th minute effort ruled out for offside with the game scoreless.
Two home games followed and the Latics were looking to move into the top half of the table but lowly neighbours Bury gained their first away win of the season courtesy of a 2-1 win against a lack-lustre home side.
Table-toppers Tranmere also left with maximum points after their 1-0 win. Matt almost gifted the visitors a first half lead when his weak back pass was intercepted by Cassidy who thankfully blasted over.
He then saw his 20-yard effort blocked in the closing moments.
The goals have certainly dried up for the ex-Harwood hero and he’ll be looking to get back on track ASAP.
One of, if not the biggest upsets of the FA Cup 1st round occurred at Plainmoor where Harrogate Town, twice our opponents in recent years, won 1-0.
Harwood fan Paul Clark will have been delighted to see his Aldershot side come from 1-0 down at the break to win 2-1 against Hendon and set up a 2 nd round tie at Fleetwood Town.
Another of our long-distance supporters, Don Fitzgerald , saw his AFC Wimbledon side draw 1-1 at York and if they win the replay, and MK Dons win theirs against Cambridge City, the two sides meet in the next round, as they almost did a couple of years ago.
In the Evo-stik Premier Chorley would have gone 3 rd with a win over promotion rivals Worksop but were held to a 1-1 draw with Simon Garner an unused sub.
The next game at 3 rd placed Ashton United saw Simon missing from the squad altogether as the Magpies twice let the lead slip before going down 3-2.
The big game in these parts took place at Kellamergh Park and Accrington Stanley breezed through thanks to a four goal blast from Will Hatfield. Once Stanley took the lead the result was never in much doubt as their skill and fitness proved too much for the hosts, much to the disappointment of the majority of the 1200+ crowd. James Dean came on in the 2 nd half as Dave Challinor rang the changes in an effort to get back into the game.
Fylde then entertained Atherton LR in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy and were two goals to the good within 6 minutes before running out 6-2 winners with James Dean netting the 5 th goal on 76 minutes, a cool lob over the stranded LR keeper.
The Coasters then exited the FA Trophy, losing 2-1 at Solihull Moors with Deano coming on as a late sub. in an effort to find an equaliser. It was he who came closest to forcing a replay when he just failed to get on the end of an Allen cross.
Game of the day in the division was at Ilkeston where visitors Kendal Town led 4-1 with just 6 minutes left only for the home side to hit three late goals, much to the dismay of the fans who left early.
In Division One North, mid-table Lancaster City proved no match for Ramsbottom United who led 4-0 at the break and eventually won 5-0 to move in the play-off positions. They then hosted leaders Mossley and drew a tremendous attendance of 371 but despite dominating for long periods, went down 2-1.
The Rams rise up the table after the Giant Axe win was thanks in part to Bamber Bridge who thrashed 4 th placed Farsley 4-0 at Ironbridge.
At the end of October, Clitheroe lost their unbeaten home record this season, losing 7-1 against Skelmersdale United with seven different scorers for the visitors. The Blues were soon in trouble, going a goal behind after only two minutes and that deficit was doubled after another couple of minutes, but they made slight amends in their following game, winning 1-0 at Ossett Albion to remain in 3 rd place.
The good form continued as they defeated an excellent Curzon Ashton side 2-1 at Shawbridge.
In the NWCFL, Padiham are 4 th after coming from behind at AFC Liverpool to win 3-2 while neighbours Colne also had a great win on the road, 1-0 at close rivals Congleton Town.
The Storks couldn’t build on their success, losing the next game 2-1 at home to Alsager Town which ended their nine game unbeaten run, and that after they’d taken the lead.
Bacup Borough were yet another of our local sides to let slip a lead as they lost 2-1 against Runcorn Town at West View.
A Lancs. Challenge Trophy gave them a chance to get back to winning ways and they progressed thanks to a comfortable 2-0 home success against fading Lancaster City.
Colne would also have been expecting to win again as they hosted Wigan Robin Park but dropped two points after a 3-3 draw despite leading 2-0.
3 rd placed Bootle proved too strong for Bacup Borough, running out 2-0 winners with both strikes coming in the 1 st half and Brent Peters’ boys then lost 2-1 at home to Runcorn Town despite a much improved performance.
Barnoldswick Town recorded a fantastic 9-0 win at strugglers Stone Dominoes and had actually scored seven by the hour mark. What a pity that the goal-fest was witnessed by just 26 spectators.
Manager-less Squires Gate lost 4-0 at Glossop North End and the Derbyshire outfit were involved in another high-scoring game at lowly Norton United who enjoyed a surprise 5-3 win. They’d built up a 4-0 lead by the half hour mark before North End pulled it back to 4-3.
Gate look to be in real trouble this term and another defeat followed, 3-1 at home to Congleton Town despite taking the lead.
AFC Blackpool managed a single shot on target at Runcorn Linnets but it was enough to secure the points. Steve Pickup played but the Seasiders keeper wasn’t Bobby Harris .
Padiham, Barnoldswick and Colne now lie 5 th, 6 th, and 7 th respectively.
In the 1 st Division, Darwen won on the road, 3-2 at Irlam in a dramatic match. They led 2-0 with time running out but the home side fought back to level in the final minute thanks to a header form the home keeper. Irlam were still celebrating the ‘point’ when an own goal in injury time gave Darwen maximum points.
More defensive woes cost them all three points in their next game when they lost 5-3 at Chadderton.
It doesn’t look as though they’ve too much defensive cover in the reserve team because they lost 9-1 at home to Irlam.
Northwich Villa drew just 15 fans who saw the home side beat West Didsbury & Chorlton 2-0 and 22 supporters saw Rochdale crash 4-0 at home to struggling Holker Old Boys.
Northwich then saw 27 people through the turnstiles for the visit of Nelson and it was the away supporters who left happiest after two goals in the final 10 minutes rescued a point in a 2-2 draw.
In between those two Villa home games, there was a ‘real’ derby in the Mid Cheshire Senior Cup, as Northwich Victoria hosted their town rivals. Not much of a contest though as the former non-league giants Vics won 7-1 after leading 5-0 at the break before a pitiful attendance of just 21 which must certainly be the club’s worst ever crowd.
Although it didn’t occur in our region, the Ryman South game is certainly worth a mention. Bottom of the table Walton Casuals entertained mid-table Merstham and the 112 fans were treated to a fantastic opening 45 minutes as the strugglers burst into a 4-0 lead after only 17 minutes and reached the interval 6-1 to the good. Double figures were discussed during the break but it all went pear-shaped after that as the visitors struck five times without reply to take a share of the spoils in a 6-6 draw.
Not only that but after the last minute penalty equaliser, Merstham then saw an effort from Saraivas parried by home keeper Fernandez who then did enough to force Nwokeji to shoot just wide with his follow up.
Matt Derbyshire couldn’t save Oldham Athletic from losing their recent unbeaten spell at Carlisle United. The Latics went down 3-1 with Matt being replaced at half time because of a rib injury with the game scoreless.
Another trip, this time to Crawley ended better as a 1-1 draw was secured with Matt going very close to scoring on 72 minutes. With Oldham leading 1-0, he burst through and rounded the keeper who then dived back to scramble the ball to safety.
Andy Procter is still getting very little playing time at PNE, coming on for the last three minutes plus injury time at Scunthorpe where the Lilywhites won 3-2, and he was then an unused sub. for the next game, a 1-1 draw at Tranmere Rovers.
AFC Fylde produced a fine performance in their FA Cup replay at Ilkeston to win 1-0 and set up a mouth watering 1 st round tie at home to Accrington Stanley. Farrell scored the goal and James Dean came on for him during the second half.
Next up was a home FA Trophy game against Nantwich Town and once again the Coasters were held to a draw, this time goalless. Deano shot just wide before half time and then produced a brilliant save just four minutes from time.
In the replay, he almost scored after 20 minutes but did put the visitors ahead on 49 minutes before the Dabbers fought back to level. The whites re-took the lead only for Nantwich to score again and force extra-time. The game eventually went to penalties but not before Deano came very close to winning the tie right at the end of the 120 minutes. He then hit the 3 rd successful spot-kick as his side won 3-1 in the shoot out.
Simon Garner replaced Rovers legend Matt Jansen for Chorley’s game at Matlock Town, co-incidentally managed by another Rovers legend Mark Atkins. He completed the 90 minutes but couldn’t stop his side going down 1-0.
He was then dropped for the following game at Grantham where the Magpies won 1-0 before being brought back into the side for a third consecutive away game, at Stafford Rangers where once again he was on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat.
Our old friends FC United went out of the FA Trophy, losing 2-1 at Stamford but then got back on track with a 2-1 Evo-stik League victory at Ashton United. A quick look at the attendance of 503 might suggest that the Reds’ away support is on the wane but Ashton’s previous home gate was just 103.
Also in that division, Blyth Spartans made the long midweek trek down the A1 to take on Worksop but the game was effectively over after just 13 minutes with the home side already 3-0 up. After half an hour it was 5-1 and ended up 8-1.
In the FA Cup, minnows Stalybridge Celtic travelled to near neighbours Stockport County and found themselves 2-0 down as the first half entered injury time. There were ten minutes of that due to a serious early injury to one of the players. County then looked to have sealed the victory with a third goal but Celtic soon made it 3-1 and within minutes were awarded a penalty. That would have set up a great second half but Adam Pepper saw his spot kick saved.
The Hatters then led 4-1 soon into the second half, then 5-2 before the Blue Square North side finished the scoring with the best goal of the game.
I travelled to Bower Fold the following week to see the once mighty Boston United gain their first ever points there thanks to a 1-0 win and poor Adam Pepper, the best player on the pitch, saw another penalty saved.
In the NWCFL, Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate entertained AFC Liverpool and found themselves 2-0 down after only 6 minutes and looking at a thrashing but they fought back to level in the second half before a penalty sealed it for the Scousers.
A League Challenge Cup game followed that and Gate looked on course for a fine draw at Alsager Town but goals in the 80 th, 89 th, and 90 th minutes put paid to their progress in that particular competition.
That spelt the end of Russ’s time at Gate but hopefully he’ll be back in the game soon.
Jason Hart hit another hat-trick for Colne as they thrashed Silsden 5-0 but then lost 3-1 at 1 st Division Abbey Hey in the Challenge Cup, with Hart again on target.
After one abandonment and a postponement, Barnoldswick Town finally completed their FA Vase game with Maine Road. The Mancunians led 2-0 at Holt House after only 16 minutes and held that lead until 10 minutes from time before the Reds went goal-crazy scoring four times to take them through.
The League Challenge Cup then followed and the home game with Glossop North End followed a similar pattern. The Derbyshire outfit led 2-0 at the break but once again Barlick knocked in four second half goals to win the day.
In the West Riding Cup, they were unable to claw back the deficit as Harrogate Railway stormed into a 4-1 lead before hanging on to win 4-3.
In the same competition, Padiham defeated Daisy Hill 2-0 at the Arbories while Darwen beat Leek CSOB 3-0 at the Anchor.
Back in League action, the Salmoners remain top despite a 4-3 defeat at Atherton Collieries.
Bobby Harris’ AFC Blackpool had a tremendous 3-0 win at St. Helens before beating Ashton Athletic 2-0 at Jepson Way. The scorer of the late second goal was a certain Steve Pickup who ‘shinned the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box’. Don’t know if it’s the ex-Harwood stalwart but I’ll endeavour to find out.
Nelson went out after a 2-0 home defeat by neighbours Bacup Borough and then lost again at Victoria Park, 4-0 to Eccleshall before just 18 hardy souls.
Some non-league fans obviously don’t like these cold autumn evenings as Oldham Borough attracted just 15 spectators for their 1-0 win against Ashton Town.
In the Evo-stik League, Ramsbottom United continue to impress and their latest success was a 2-0 win at Harrogate Railway Athletic, a result which sees them in 5 th spot. They then exited the FA Trophy after crashing 3-0 at Stafford Rangers.
Clitheroe couldn’t close the gap on leaders Mossley as they were held to a goalless draw against 4 th placed Farsley at Shawbridge.
In the Blue Square Premier, Southport are safely in mid-table after coming from two down at home to Hereford United, to draw 2-2.
Ramsbottom United slipped to a 1-0 defeat at New Mills thanks to an 88 th minute free-kick.
In the FA Cup, Arlesey Town of the Evo-stik Southern Premier League welcomed a Brackley Town side who had nine wins and a draw from their ten league games but no one could have imagined the incredible start to the game. The home side raced into a three-goal lead inside 10 minutes but with 18 minutes of the game left, they only led 4-3 but they hung on to make it through.
Southport moved into mid-table after a fine 3-1 win against Nuneaton at Haig Avenue before a much-improved crowd of over 1300.
Matt Derbyshire’s arrival at Oldham Athletic has coincided with the Latics rise up the League One table and their good form continued at unbeaten title favourites Sheffield United. The Blades took the lead with a penalty just after the interval although Matt forced a good save from the home keeper soon afterwards. With 96 minutes on the clock Smith scored the equaliser to send the superb following of almost a thousand fans into raptures.
The next game saw Leyton Orient hold Oldham until 13 minutes from time when Matt scored his fourth goal in 6 games and 7 minutes later he helped set up Baxter to seal the points.
Andy Procter made a rare appearance for PNE in their Johnstones Paint Trophy tie at the Globe Arena. He made a last ditch sliding tackle in an effort to stop Morecambe taking the lead but to no avail as Mustoe tucked the chance away. He had two headed chances in the first half, on 15 and 30 minutes, but on each occasion put the efforts wide.
Nevertheless, the Lilywhites fought back to win 4-2.
Andy was then an unused substitute for the following two home games, a 0-0 draw against MK Dons and a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United.
Another ex-Harwood star, Simon Garner , is also struggling to hold down a regular first team spot at Chorley although he played in the 3-3 home draw against Nantwich Town. For the next game at Rushall Olympic he was back on the bench although he entered the fray on 57 minutes. The game ended goalless but Simon left the field worse for wear causing him to miss out against AFC Fylde at Victory Park. The Magpies led at the break but ended up on the wrong side of a 4-1 scoreline and also had two men sent off in the final 10 minutes.
In the next home game it was Chorley who came from behind to register an emphatic victory. Frickley, who’d already knocked them out of the FA Cup recently, took an 8 th minute lead but hit back with five unanswered goals, Simon coming on from the bench on 70 minutes with the score at 3-1.
AFC Fylde are continuing to move onwards and upwards and they beat FC United 4-2 in front of big crowd of 1,418 with James Dean entering the fray in the 76 th minute. He was then an unused sub, for the great 4-1 win at Chorley before the FA Cup against Ilkeston where he came on as a 75 th minute sub. in the 75 th minute of the 1-1 draw.
In the NWCFL, Padiham are the areas leading lights and they’ve lost just once in 14 league games this term. They also made it through to the next round of the Lancashire Challenge Trophy after defeating neighbours Colne 2-0 at the Arbories. A crowd of 212 saw them draw 2-2 at home to Bacup Borough with ex-Robin Martin Parkes starting the scoring on just 2 minutes.
They also dropped two points after a disappointing 1-1 home draw against AFC Blackpool but then won 2-1 at Winsford United to move into 4 th place in the Premier Division.
Colne had the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways after their cup defeat at Padiham when they hosted lowly Norton United at Holt House but despite the Staffs. side leaking goals for fun this season, the game ended 0-0.
Maybe Norton have signed some new players because they then defeated a Stoke City side 3-2 in the Staffs. Senior Cup in front of a huge 200+ crowd. To prove those two results weren’t flukes, they travelled to AFC Liverpool and won again, 3-2, to move level on points with their opponents.
Colne’s next game was at AFC Blackpool and Jason Hart replicated Matt Derbyshire’s great performance at that venue by scoring four goals as the Reds won 5-0.
Blackpool are scoring and conceding plenty of goals, no more so than in their game at Glossop North End where they fought back from a 3-1 down to lead 4-3 before having to settle for a point in a 4-4 draw.
What’s even more surprising is that Great Harwood Town legend Bobby Harris is the current keeper and in his final spell with the Robins he conceded just four goals in his last nine appearances.
There was another hat-trick hero just a few yards away from Jepson Way at School Road, Josh Miller hitting all three in a 3-2 win for Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate against Ashton Athletic and he also scored in the next game at Silsden but Gate let a half time lead slip to go down 2-1.
They then travelled to high-flying Stockport Sports and did magnificently to hold on for an hour, but a hat-trick from the leagues leading scorer John Marsden helped the home side to a 4-0 win. That makes it an incredible 18 goals in just 15 games.
Lots of games called off due to wet weather in the middle of the month and Barnoldswick Town have suffered more than most. They managed just a single game but made the most of it, winning 1-0 at Wigan Robin Park.
Bacup Borough followed up their 2-2 draw at Padiham with another two goals at Congleton Town but the high-flyers took the points thanks to four strikes of their own.
In the 1 st Division, leaders Darwen beat Ashton Town 3-2 in front of what was reported as an attendance of 169! Another three-figure crowd saw their next game against title rivals Abbey Hey and the visitors closed the gap on the Salmoners after an emphatic 4-0 win.
Nelson lost 4-2 at Chadderton before another defeat, this time 2-0 at home to Daisy Hill.
Another high-scoring game was the Oldham-Northwich Villa clash which ended 3-3 before another paltry attendance of 20.
Mind you, that was good compared with Villa’s next match, a home game with Ashton Town which they lost 5-0 before….11 spectators.
Oldham also continued on the goal trail in their next game at Eccleshall, winning 7-0 with the evergreen James Curley hitting four, and that’s 10 for the season in all competitions.
In the FA Cup, Southport have enjoyed some highlights in recent years but they failed to make it through to the first round after losing 2-0 at Wrexham.
FC United couldn’t replicate last year’s heroics as they went down to crisis club Hereford United 2-0 at Gigg Lane before the second highest crowd of the round, 2,212.
Another 2,000+ attendance saw the derby clash between Stockport County and Stalybridge Celtic and they were treated to a cup classic which the Hatters won 5-3.
The shock of the round was on the cards up until the 89 th minute when Yate Town, having come from 1-0 down at half time, led Blue Square leaders Newport County 3-1 but the Welshmen fought back to equalise in the 94 th minute.
A couple of strange exits from clubs we’ve played regularly in recent years, with Nelson parting company with their manager, he stating he was sacked and the Chairman saying he quit.
New Mills boss Ally Pickering led the side to the NWCFL title last year and this season has been even better with seven wins from eight games but he said that he was forced out by the committee.
In the same division, the Evo-stik Division One North, Skelmersdale United had won their first seven games conceding just two goals in the process but with just 11 minutes left of their home game with Curzon Ashton, they trailed 2-1. They then hit an equaliser before a last minute Hine winner kept their 100% record intact.
Burscough have struggled in recent years but they’ve enjoyed a reasonable start to the campaign and a 6-1 victory at Harrogate Railway Athletic moved them into the top half of the table.
Warrington Town went one better in the home game against second bottom Goole winning 7-2. The visitors had actually led 1-0 up until the 44 th minute and were only 2-1 down with just a quarter of an hour to play.
Ramsbottom United moved into 7 th place after coming from 1-0 down at half time, to win 2-1 at Wakefield.
In the South Division, lowly Hucknall Town proved no match for leaders Coalville Town despite home advantage. They found themselves 9-0 down still with 23 minutes to play but then scored themselves and ‘hung on’ to finish with a 9-1 defeat.
Matt Derbyshire made it three goals in 5 games for Oldham Athletic as they won far more convincingly than the 2-0 scoreline suggests at Crewe Alexandra.
Matt set up fellow forward Baxter in the first minute but the shot was blocked and despite almost constant pressure, the score remained blank in the first half. During that period the Alex keeper parried a shot which Matt then tucked away but he was wrongly flagged for offside.
The second half continued in the same vein and after the Latics had taken the lead, the ex-Harwood legend made sure of the points when he slotted in a low left wing cross from 6 yards.
Next up was a ‘derby’ game against PNE and once again the Latics forward line ran their opponents a merry dance. Matt was in great form again although he didn’t manage to add to his goal-scoring tally as his side breezed past the Lilywhites 3-1, with the visitors goal a mere late consolation. Matt managed to get himself booked on the hour mark and the other ex-Robin Andy Procter was disappointed not to have come off the bench.
A few days earlier, Andy managed to get 20 minutes playing time in for PNE as they won 3-1 at Doncaster Rovers. He came on just after the final goal of the evening.
Most of the midweek games in the opening week of the month were postponed due to the heavy rain but a few did survive.
FC United, who came back from three down at home to Mossley in the FA Trophy, themselves built up a three goal lead in the replay before going through 3-1.
In the NWCFL, strugglers Norton United and Stone Dominoes both look to be on the way to conceding a hundred goals this season. Norton shipped in another five at Alsager Town, making it 35 goals in 10 games, while Stone conceded six at home to Congleton Town, a total of 43 goals in 13 games.
Barnoldswick Town have enjoyed success in recent season in the West Riding Cup and they overcame a tricky-looking tie at Armthorpe Welfare, winning 4-1.
Back in League action, they then drew 2-2 at Runcorn Town.
Also in the Premier Division, Bacup Borough defeated Alsager Town 2-1 at West View while Colne also won at home, 3-2 against Winsford United.
Padiham won 2-1 against Glossop North End at the Arbories while there was still little cheer for Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate as they went down to the only goal of the game at home to Wigan Robin Park.
Gate remain above Norton United who shipped in another three goals without reply at home Runcorn Linnets.
In the League Challenge Cup, Nelson took the lead at home to Rochdale but still lost 2-1 before just 15 spectators at Victoria Park.
Simon Garner came on from the bench after only 12 minutes of the Magpies Evo-stik game at lowly Eastwood Town and he helped them get back on track with a 1-0 victory.
AFC Fylde made it through to the 4 th qualifying round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history by way of a tremendous win at home to Blue Square North Solihull Moors. The Whites tore into their higher-placed opponents from the start and it was James Dean who set up the opener for Booth on 12 minutes. He eventually made way on 65 minutes just after Fylde had made it 3-1 and a late goal completed the rout.
The early October clash between Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers should have seen Harwood legend Matt Derbyshire face his childhood heroes for the first time but of course, he was on loan at Oldham. With the Reds short of attacking options due to suspensions and injury, there was every chance that he would have been in the starting line-up but the 1200 visiting supporters(including yours truly) had to put up with 90 minutes of 2 nd rate attacking ineptitude.
Here’s a piece from the Forest matchday programme:
‘ Matt Derbyshire admits his rise to prominence at Blackburn Rovers was the stuff of comic books.
Born and bred up in the Lancashire town as a Rovers fan, the striker made the leap from the North West Counties League to a starring role for his beloved club in the blink of an eye.
Derbyshire had a spell working for Blackburn’s community development but was spotted by the Ewood Park club while plying his goalscoring trade with local side Great Harwood Town .
Rovers were late to make a move and were in danger of missing out on his services to either Manchester United or Everton.
But once his boyhood favourites came into the equation, Derbyshire dropped any thought of moves to either Old Trafford or Goodison Park.
“Blackburn were my club and once they were in for me I wasn’t going to sign for anyone else”.
“I grew up in the town, supported the club and had worked for their community department but to get the chance to play for them as well was amazing…the stuff of dreams.
“I’m not sure how much they knew about me as a player when I was working at the Community department but they had someone watching a Great Harwood Town game.
“I scored quite a few goals for them in a short period of time and fortunately Blackburn spotted me and gave me my chance.
“I loved every single minute of my time at Blackburn. When Mark Hughes came in as manager he gave me the opportunity and scoring at Ewood Park was one of the best feelings ever.
“Within a year or two of leaving Great Harwood Town I was scoring for a club I loved and at a place I spent so much time as a fan.
“I idolised Alan Shearer when I was growing up but I was so lucky to play with some great players at Blackburn-guys like Tugay, Roque Santa Cruz, Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts…fantastic players.”
Derbyshire scored 10 league goals in 63 appearances but took the difficult decision to leave Blackburn-and his Lancashire roots-following the appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager.
“It was tough, a really upsetting time if I’m honest,” the 26 year old says. “My first team opportunities became limited and I felt the time was right to move on.
“Olympiacos were offering me the chance to play in the Champions League, which was a fantastic experience, but leaving Blackburn was an incredible wrench.
“I’d grown up with a lot of special people around me at Ewood-from the kit lady to the guy who looks after the boots-I loved every single one of them and still speak to many of them now.
“Leaving them behind was tough but I felt it was the right thing to do at the time.”
Derbyshire made another career choice last month by joining Oldham on an emergency loan in a bid to play first team football on a regular basis.
Opportunities of that nature have been hard to come by since he ended his Greek adventure to join us in the summer of 2011.
But the move to Boundary Park has given him a new lease of life, as he demonstrated by scoring in each of his first two appearances for the League One outfit.
“I’ve been troubled by injury and illness since joining Forest and going to Oldham has given me the chance to play some games and work on my fitness,” he says. “It’s good to see my name on the scoresheet again.”
Matt Derbyshire gave another fine display for Oldham Athletic at Brentford but was unable to stop the Latics losing 1-0. He saw an early shot well saved before the Bees scored the only goal but Oldham were very unlucky not to take at least a point.
It was a case of deja-vu for their next fixture, against Coventry City at Boundary Park when they lost again by the only goal.
Matt was brought down by the keeper in the box but instead of awarding a red card and penalty kick, the referee waved play on.
In the second half the ex-Robin saw a shot brilliantly saved and then created a chance from nothing which was again stopped by the City keeper. A goal in the dying moments meant the Latics are still deep in relegation territory.
In the same League, Andy Procter is enjoying very little playing time for PNE, missing out on the squad for the 3-1 reverse at Walsall, and only coming on for the final 4 minutes of the Lilywhites 3-1 League Cup defeat to Middlesbrough at Deepdale,
The North End manager Graham Westley admitted that he’d had enquiries about the ex-Robin with a view to a loan deal (Accrington Stanley or Rochdale maybe) but that he’d rejected the advances.
In the FA Cup, the last NWCFL side exited as Abbey Hey were thrashed 6-0 at Halifax Town despite the first goal taking 43 minutes to arrive.
Elsewhere in the competition, Chorley lost at home to Frickley Athletic who enjoyed the best of some very dubious decisions by the referee including a controversial sending off and penalty. Simon Garner was booked before being substituted at the break as Garry Flitcroft went for a more attacking option.
A home tie in the FA Trophy followed that defeat and once again the score was the same. Whitby Town were the victors as more refereeing blunders cost the Magpies. Simon was flattened from behind in the box just before the interval but the official waved aside Chorley’s claims.
Simon was subbed again, this time in the 70 th minute.
AFC Fylde made it through after a tough 2-1 win at Bishop Auckland with James Dean scoring the opener after 26 minutes. He could have scored 7 minutes earlier but headed over the bar. He was subbed on 65 minutes as the Whites held on despite plenty of home pressure.
They also made it through to the next round of the FA Trophy when they were rather fortunate to defeat Marine 1-0. Fylde were struggling to make headway before Deano was brought on from the bench on 63 minutes. He gave his side many more attacking options and it was from his astute header that Barnes notched the winner.
Bamber Bridge lost 1-0 at home to Blue Square North side Guiseley in the FA Cup but made it through in the Trophy courtesy of a 3-2 home win against Ossett Albion.
Great Harwood Town fans will remember trips to Salford City and crowds there of around fifty but the FA Cup brought almost 1,300 to the ground, almost all of them FC United fans who saw the Reds progress to the next round. They actually led 3-0 in the 88 th minute but were left hanging on by the end after a quick-fire double by City.
In the Trophy it was the Reds who needed to come back from three down as Mossley led by that score with only 17 minutes remaining but a barnstorming finish saw them clinch a replay.
In the Evo-stik League, Ramsbottom United are still right up there despite dropping two points after a 1-1 draw at Farsley.
The Blues then made it through to the next round of the FA trophy after defeating Northwich Victoria 4-2 at the Riverside.
Clitheroe led 2-0 against Wakefield at Shawbridge but had to be content with a point after a 2—2 draw. They then travelled to Marine for an LFA Cup game and once again they led slip the lead, going down 2-1.
Back in League action, they ended the month in 3 rd place after beating Warrington Town 2-0 at home and extend their unbeaten start to six games.
In the South Division, the once mighty Northwich Victoria are still struggling and just 62 saw their 4-4 draw with Loughborough Dynamo at Marston Road, Stafford.
In the Blue Square Premier, Southport drew 1-1 with Stockport County at Haig Avenue before a surprisingly low crowd of just over 800. They then lost 3-1 at Luton and remain just two points above the drop zone.
In the NWCFL, 3 rd placed Barnoldswick Town suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat at Ashton Athletic but came back in their next game to beat AFC Liverpool 1-0 at the Silentnight Stadium.
Padiham looked on course for a home win as they led Winsford United 3-1 with just 10 minutes to go but the Cheshire side fought back to win 4-3 to end the Blues unbeaten League start. The Storks made amends by winning 1-0 at Alsager Town in their next outing.
Squires Gate gained a rare win, much to the delight of Boss Russ McKenna, 2-1 at home to highly-rated Maine Road but it was back to normal in their next fixture at Winsford where they lost 4-1.
Colne led 1-0 and then 2-1 against Alsager Town at Holt House but still lost 3-2. They then made the trip high-flying Stockport Sports and gained an excellent point after a 2-2 draw. Sports had just moved up to 2 nd after a 7-0 home victory over Norton United.
Mixed results for Brent Peters’ Bacup Borough as they thrashed Runcorn Linnets 4-1 at West View with the mercurial Tommy Turner scoring again. They then went to Norton United and must have expected to gain three more points but the home side won 1-0 to move off the foot of the table.
In the 1 st Division Darwen remain top going into October despite a surprise 1-0 loss at Atherton LR. but they came back in the next game to win 2-1 against Chadderton at the Anchor. The twice than normal attendance of 110 probably had a lot to do with the ‘feel-good’ factor around the town after Steve Kean’s long-overdue exit from nearby Ewood Park.
Nelson lost their first game of the season, 1-0 at Ashton Town in front of 25 supporters, two less than saw the derby between Oldham Borough and Rochdale Town.
The poor old boys of Holker only managed to get 20 through the turnstile and most of them went away in the doldrums after the home side’s 5 th defeat in five League games, this one by a single goal against Leek CSOB. No joy in their following game at West Didsbury & Chorlton where they lost 3-0.
More shocking crowds were at Daisy Hill, 18 to see a 5-1 victory over Leek CSOB, and at Northwich Villa where 17 witnessed the home side’s 3-0 loss to Cheadle Town.
Down in the South West, Buckland Athletic lost their first League game of the season, and how, 6-1 at Cadbury Heath. Although ending September third from bottom, they do have up to 6 games in hand on their rivals after good cup runs.
Beginning mid September as we ended early September, with our highest-placed former player Matt Derbyshire , and he was on target again for Oldham Athletic as they drew 1-1 with Scunthorpe United at Boundary Park. The Latics had to come from behind and Matt converted a cross at the near post on 40 minutes having already seen the Iron keeper make a great save from an earlier effort.
He also looked to have popped in the winner in the 92 nd minute but the effort was ruled out for a very soft foul on the keeper by another Oldham player. A big worry for Paul Dickov’s club was the attendance of less than 3,000, indeed taking into consideration the 200 or so away fans, not many more than 2 ½ thousand Blues supporters were present.
Andy Procter was an unused sub. as PNE crashed to a 2-1 home defeat against Crawley. He was missing from the squad for the next game against Hartlepool as the Lilywhites won 5-0 so there’ll be no quick recall for ex-Robin.
In the Evo-stik Premier Division, AFC Fylde thrashed visitors Buxton 5-0 with James Dean netting a quick-fire nine minute hat-trick just after the break.
Three days later the Whites travelled to Nantwich Town, themselves on a high after a great win at Gigg Lane against FC United, and they sent out a warning to fellow promotion contenders with a 3-0 victory. Deano failed to hit the target but saw one second half effort blocked on the six-yard line.
The afore mentioned game at Bury saw FCUM lose their unbeaten record thanks to two goals in the final 11 minutes which saw the Dabbers overturn a 1-0 deficit.
Two more sides with big ambitions met at Victory Park and Hednesford came out on top, 2-1, thanks to a rare blunder from Simon Garner. He was dispossessed just three minutes from time and that mistake led to the winning goal.
In the NWCFL Premier Division, two unbeaten sides met at the Arbories and they kept those records thanks to an entertaining 1-1 draw.
Ex-Robin Martin Parkes came close to breaking the deadlock in the first half.
Barnoldswick Town were shocked to find themselves 2-0 down at home to lowly Stone Dominoes but fought back to earn a point.
Still not much joy this term for Russ McKenna and his Squires Gate side and they went down again, this time 2-0 at home to Bacup Borough.
Norton United scored bags of goals as they won promotion last season and they’re hitting the net regularly this time round but they’re conceding a frightening number of goals.
They led Maine Road 3-0 at the break but still went down 4-3. Their next home game saw them take the lead again, this time against another of last season’s free-scorers, Runcorn Town. By the break Town had stormed into a 5-1 lead before eventually running out 9-3 winners!
Another classic game also took place in Staffordshire as Leek CSOB took on Bewdley Town in the FA Vase. The Old Boys ran out 6-3 winners but what a pity that an incredible ‘crowd’ of just 11 witnessed the goal-fest.
Nelson exited the competition after losing 3-2 at home to Wigan Robin Park. The Blues had in fact raced into a 2-0 lead after only 13 minutes before the visitors took control.
Ex-Vase heroes Colne went down 2-1 at home to Bottesford Town while Squires Gate lost 3-1 at Armthorpe Welfare.
Of our ex-opponents, Guisborough Town had the best win, 5-0 at Stokesley SC while Norton & Stockton Ancients were edged out 2-1 at Chester-le-Street.
Glasshoughton Welfare lost 4-0 at impressive Maine Road and Winterton Rangers also went out after losing 3-0 at Congleton Town.
Other big-hitters included Odd Down, from Bath, who beat Cullompton 8-1 and Shawbury United who defeated Bromyard Town 8-3. For those, who like me had never heard of those two sides, Shawbury in Shropshire and Bromyard in Herefordshire. It wasn’t all plain-sailing for United as they found themselves 2-1 down before equalising just before the break.
Great Harwood Town supporter Nick Hancock must be very pleased with the start to the season that his number one love Buckland Athletic have made-and so must the Chairman as they continue to rake in the cash with their wins in FA Cup and FA Vase. The Yellows breezed into the next round of the FA Cup with a 5-1 home replay win against Plymouth Parkway and a few days later made it through in the Vase courtesy of a 7-1 mauling of Porthleven. Easy to see what the supporters consider to be the main competition as 209 saw the Cup game whereas just 79 turned out for the Vase.
In the NWCFL 1 st Division, Darwen won again to maintain their position at the top of the table. They came from behind to beat Daisy Hill 3-1 at the Anchor.
Nelson were held 2-2 by West Didsbury & Chorlton while four second half goals saw Northwich Villa defeat hapless Holker Old Boys 4-0 in front of…..EIGHT spectators.
In the FA Trophy, Clitheroe forced an excellent draw at Northwich Victoria before going down 3-0 at Shawbridge in front of a disappointing crowd of 151.
Bamber Bridge also went out, losing 2-1 at Harrogate Railway Athletic.
Ramsbottom United made it through, winning 1-0 at our old adversaries Brigg Town with the win coming a couple of weeks after the Rams FA Cup success against the same opponents.
Further afield, in the Ryman League battle of the ‘bridges’ Heybridge recorded their first win of the season in style, winning 8-0 at Redbridge.
Andy Procter got PNE off to the perfect start in their Johnstones Paint Trophy tie at Carlisle when he set up Beardsley for the opener after just 3 minutes. Unfortunately the Lilywhites failed to capitalise on the good start and the tie went to penalties after a 1-1 draw with North End going through 3-1 on spot kicks.
Andy was on the bench for the next game against high-flyers Swindon Town and he came on after 78 minutes. Within a couple of minutes he almost scored with a great header as North End ran out 4-1 winners.
In the Evo-stik Premier League, James Dean starred in a 4-3 home victory over Whitby Town. The Coasters then travelled to Ashton United where they recovered from a 1-0 half-time deficit to lead 2-1 only to be denied the three points just three minutes from time although a point was the least the Manchester side deserved.
Deano saw his 12 th minute header go just wide and he should have scored just after the break but fired wide when in a great position. After another miss he was substituted after 72 minutes.
An FA Cup tie followed as Fylde entertained Ramsbottom United and despite a tremendous performance from the Rams, Deano’s boys made it through to the next round, and pocketed the £3,000 prize money after a 3-1 win.
Deano had a shot blocked after only 7 minutes and should have scored with a ‘one-on-one’ after an hour.
Meanwhile, Ramsbottom got back on the winning trail with a 2-0 win at Goole, with both goals coming in the opening 15 minutes.
The Blues couldn’t build on that win as fancied Skelmersdale United comfortably won 2-0 at the Riverside.
In the same division, Clitheroe were trailing 2-1 at home to Burscough before goals in the 79 th and 88 th minutes gave the Blues the points.
They repeated the feat in their next game at Mossley as they overturned a 1-0 half-time loss to win 3-2.
An FA Cup tie at Skelmersdale United followed that win but the Blues went down 1-0.
In the same competition, Padiham lost their replay at Burscough 2-1 despite taking the lead while Lancaster City were hammered 4-0 by Salford City at the Giant Axe.
Holker Old Boys finally bit the dust as they went down 3-0 at Tadcaster Albion and Abbey Hey were the only NWCFL side to make it through to the next round as they enjoyed a great 2-1 win at Sheffield.
The following week the Cumbrians exited the FA Vase after a 2-1 home defeat against Hebburn Town in front of a paltry 25 spectators.
Chorley won 2-0 at home to Nantwich Town before 633 fans at Victory Park and just 1,024 fans witnessed FC United’s 5-0 thrashing of Cammell Laird at Gigg Lane.
The Magpies then beat Ilkeston 1-0 in the League in front of a similar crowd before winning a top of the table clash 3-1 at Witton Albion before an impressive 450+ attendance.
FCUM had to play their big League game against unbeaten Hednesford Town at Stalybridge but the attendance wasn’t affected as over 1,700 witnessed a 1-1 draw.
The Reds then won 1-0 at Whitby Town to maintain their own unbeaten start to the campaign.
Top scorers in the Cup were Curzon Ashton who slaughtered Maltby Main 8-1 despite leading just 2-1 after 44 minutes.
Another side to go goal-crazy were Shildon of the Northern League. They entertained South Shields who held their own for 13 minutes but found themselves 7-0 down at the interval. The home side added another four after the break.
In the FA Vase, Brent Peters’ Bacup Borough managed a fine 0-0 draw at AFC Liverpool but went down by the only goal in the replay at West View.
Premier Divison Padiham travelled to high-flying 1 st Division Formby and led 1-0 at the break but then shipped in five second half goals to go crashing out.
Nelson attracted just 30 fans to Victoria Park who saw the Blues defeat Appleby Froddingham 3-2.
Northwich Villa could only muster a crowd of 21 for their 1-0 home defeat against Daisy Hill the same number witnessed Wigan Robin Park’s 2-1 home win over Oldham Borough, the evergreen James Curley scoring the visitors consolation.
We travelled to Bilston for a Cup game not too many years ago and they defeated NWCFL side Stone Dominoes 2-0 while some of our other recent opponents had mixed luck. Two of them met at Guisborough where Town defeated Crook 2-1 but fellow North-Easterners Seaham Red Star lost 2-1 at home to Willington.
Some very high-scoring games went as follows:
Holwell Sports 5 Kirby Muxloe 6. (1-0, 1-1, 1-2, half time, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4, 4-4, full time. Just two minutes into extra time Kirby had surged into a 6-4 lead but the home side pulled a goal back before peppering the visitor’s goal without success.
Horsham YMCA travelled to Worthing United in confident mood having beaten them 6-1 in a League clash just five days earlier but the bottom of the table side showed great fight in forcing a 5-5 draw and here’s how the scoring went:
0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 3-3, full time, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 5-5.
Horsham won the replay 4-0 with all the goals coming in the opening 55 minutes.
Jarrow Roofing were coasting at home to Brandon United 3-1 but the visitors fought back to lead 4-3 with just a minute left when Jarrow hit the leveller. The hosts then hit three without reply to win 7-4.
In the NWCFL, Barnoldswick Town carried on with their good form, winning 4-0 against Maine Road at the Silentnight and 1-0 at Winsford United.
Colne lost 2-1 at high-flying Bootle and also lost Ed O’Neil through injury after only 7 minutes but followed up that defeat with two home wins, 4-2 against AFC Blackpool and 3-1 against Glossop North End.
Padiham recovered from their FA Vase mauling to beat St. Helens 4-1 at the Arbories while Bacup Borough were watched by only 33 fans as they hammered Stone Dominoes 4-0.
Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate hosted pointless Norton United but the Staffs side finally got off the mark after a 2-1 win.
Gate then travelled to Runcorn Linnets and burst into a 2-0 lead within 20 minutes but still left empty-handed as ‘Corn scored three goals of their own.
In the 1 st Division, Darwen breezed past Leek CSOB 3-1 at the Anchor with Hession scoring the final goal and then won 6-0 at Rochdale Town before 32 fans. At the same time, Darwen’s Reserve side were losing 8-0 at home to Padiham Reserves.
The Salmoners and Formby have now opened up a 7 point gap at the top of the table.
The Squirrels hosted Eccleshall and stormed into a 5-0 half time lead before the visitors fought back to 7-3 just after the hour mark. Formby then upped the tempo to run out 9-3 winners.
Just 21 hardy souls saw James Curley score yet again as Oldham beat Irlam.
That crowd was 3 more than Leek drew for the 2-1 home defeat by West Didsbury and Chorlton.
Matt Derbyshire has moved to Oldham Athletic on loan so he should finally be playing some first team football. He made his debut in the home fixture against League One leaders Notts County and unsurprisingly he scored.
County went in front just after the break but three minutes later Matt burst into the box, rounded the keeper, and slotted into the net. A few minutes later he rose above the defenders just a yard from goal and was about to score again when he was pushed over but the resultant spot kick was blazed over the bar by Simpson. The ex-Robin was then replaced on 77 minutes by Baxter who scored the Latics’ second equaliser just three minutes after the Magpies had re-taken the lead.
In truth, County deserved nothing from the game for turning out in a strip that can only be described as horrendous-some very thin hoops of burnt orange and black-surely no fans have bought replicas?
As if things couldn’t get any worse for Matt Derbyshire , despite him not coming on from the bench against Fleetwood, he was omitted from the Nottingham Forest squad for the opening League game against Bristol City at the City Ground. Forest won 1-0 but hopefully the side will struggle in the coming weeks and give Matt an opportunity to show what he can do.
A trip to Bolton Wanderers followed but once again he found himself an unused sub. but he must have been hoping for a run-out as the Reds hosted Wigan Athletic in the League Cup but he wasn’t even named in the squad!
Andy Procter has settled down this season after a very difficult first few months at PNE. He starred in the Lilywhites tremendous 4-1 thrashing of Championship side Crystal Palace in the League Cup and made the decisive 3 rd goal.
The Evo-stik League began with a Friday night game between Stocksbridge Park Steels and Chorley and what a game it was. A nine goal thriller was decided in the 77 th minute when the Magpies scored to make it 5-4. The game was a bit of a disaster for ex-Robin Simon Garner . His poor pass was intercepted allowing the Yorkies to take the lead but Chorley soon equalised. He then headed against his own bar when attempting to clear and the rebound was put away for 2-1. Once again the visitors drew level but just before the break he gave away possession in the box but thankfully a terrible finish saved his blushes.
Soon after the interval the Steelers took the lead for the 3 rd time and on 70 minutes they scored again to virtually seal the victory.
Ince then reduced the arrears a minute later and incredibly the same player made it 4-4 just three minutes after that. Just three more minutes had passed when Chorley scored the 9 th and final goal of the evening to clinch a famous victory.
Despite that good start, it’s been a mixed start to the campaign with over 600 fans seeing their opening home game against Witton Albion who won 2-1. They then defeated Grantham Town 2-0 at Victory Park before going down 2-0 at Marine.
AFC Fylde travelled to Ilkeston for their first game at this lofty level and competed well against the new club who’re looking to get back the levels they were at before the ‘old club’s’ demise. A vociferous home support of over 450 made the atmosphere intimidating but it was the Whites who almost took the lead after just 6 minutes when James Dean went close. The ex-Harwood star then set up Barnes on 19 minutes but the forward missed an excellent chance.
On 53 minutes Fylde went in front but a couple of minutes later Ilkeston equalised and that’s the way the game ended. Deano was substituted after 69 minutes.
They then drew 2-2 at Kendal Town before defeating North Ferriby United 1-0 in front of almost 250 fans. The attendance was up again for their next home game when they were surprisingly beaten 2-1 by Ashton United.
In the same Division, our old friends FC United took hundreds of fans to their opener at Grantham Town and the majority of the 1,220 fans present went home happy after the Reds 4-2 victory.
Their next two home games drew crowds of 1,062 and 1,763 and two wins took the Reds to the top of the table. Whitby Town were beaten 3-2 and Matlock Town were hammered 4-0.
They finally dropped points after a 1-1 draw at fancied Witton Albion.
In the Evo-stik North, Clitheroe enjoyed a tremendous 2-0 opening day victory at Garforth, or so it seemed. The Yorkshire side could be in for a torrid time this season as they also lost their second game-6-0 at Curzon Ashton. Dennis scored five of those goals but what a pity that only 105 supporters witnessed the feat.
Next up for the Blues was a home game with Harrogate RA but they were held to a 3-3 draw.
Ramsbottom United were competing at this level for the first time in their history and they entertained Cammell Laird at the Riverside in what turned out to be an opening day classic.
The Scousers led 2-0 and then 3-1with Henders notching a hat-trick, but goals in the 80 th and 89 th minutes salvaged a point before an impressive crowd if 189.
The Rams then won 1-0 at Ossett Town who lost their following home game 8-0 against Trafford. Wright scored a hat-trick for the Mancunians but he was overshadowed by Michael Oates who hit five. Just three days later the same player hit four in a 7-0 home win over Wakefield.
The other promoted side, New Mills, fared even better, winning 4-1 at Harrogate Railway Athletic.
Another side who we’ve encountered in recent times, Trafford, had a dream start to the campaign, winning 8-0 at Ossett Albion with Oates hitting five and the other three goals coming from Whight.
Spare a thought for Northwich Victoria in the Evo-stik South. One of non-league’s top sides over the past 30 years, now find themselves homeless and surrounded in controversy with their disillusioned fans staying away. Just 86 were present for their first game of the season and they saw the Vics lost 4-3 (at home) to Stamford.
Stockport Sports (Woodley Sports) have, according to reports, gone full-time but they’re start to the season has been pretty dreadful and they surprisingly exited the FA Cup at the 1 st hurdle, losing 2-1 at Ashton Athletic.
In the other replays, Colne found themselves 3-0 down in the 1 st half at Congleton but fought back to go in at the break just a goal behind. Sadly for the Reds the home side eventually ran out 5-2 winners.
A trip to Wigan Robin Park soon followed and ex- Robins Ed O’Neil and Bobby Harris both had excellent games. In the 1 st half Ed set up McCloughlin whose header struck the crossbar and in the 2 nd he presented Hart with an opportunity but his spectacular overhead kick flew just over the bar. Bobby made a string of fine saves as the hosts took control of the game but Colne looked set for the points as they lead 1-0 in the 90 th minute but a penalty for Wigan gave them a share of the spoils as Bobby was beaten at last.
Holker Old Boys finally had something to cheer about as they overcame Newton Aycliffe 3-0 at home in front of a huge crowd of 101. The visitors were hit with three goals in a ten minute period late in the game.
In the NWCFL, Barnoldswick Town are looking to go one better than last season and take the title and they’ve had a fine start to the new campaign. They won 3-1 at neighbours Bacup Borough before beating St. Helens 4-2 at the Silentnight.
They then drew 0-0 at AFC Blackpool to end the month in 3 rd place.
Bacup then lost 2-0 at Runcorn Town while local rivals Padiham won 1-0 at Stone Dominoes in front of just 31 fans. That victory followed a great game at the Arbories against Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate and this is how the scoring went:
0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 4-3, 5-3, 5-4.
‘Gate then lost 3-0 at Congleton but earned their first win with a 3-1 win at home to Colne.
Last season’s 1 st Division Champions Wigan Robin Park could attract only 37 supporters for their game with Alsager Town, a game which they won 2-0.
An extraordinary game at Winsford United where AFC Liverpool took the lead only to lose 8-1!
In the 1 st Division, Darwen continue to impress, beating new boys West Didsbury & Chorlton 2-0 at the Anchor before winning 3-1 against Oldham Borough at Atherton Collieries two days later with the final goal coming from substitute Johnny Hession. That win took the Salmoners to the top of the table.
The great form continued as they won 3-1at Eccleshall with Bobby Langford grabbing a hat-trick.
Nelson remained top despite dropped a couple of points in a 2-2 draw at Daisy Hill but dropped a place after Darwen’s Monday night win.
By the end of August they’d slipped to 3 rd behind Formby who maintained their 100% record.
Holker couldn’t replicate their FA Cup form and were hammered 5-1 at home to Atherton Collieries despite taking the lead. They then had to travel to the North East again for their next FA Cup match against one of our recent cup opponents Crook Town and forced a magnificent 4-4 draw-maybe they have some different players for cup games? They then finished the job off in Cumbria, winning 3-1 before a huge crowd of 140.
Another big FA Cup attendance at AFC Liverpool where 361 witnessed the home side’s exit as they lost 1-0 to Prescott Cables.
In the same competition, Padiham drew 0-0 at home to Burscough while Ramsbottom United had a fine 3-0 win against our old adversaries, Brigg Town at the Riverside.
Great game at Leek CSOB who entertained Formby. The home side took the lead only to find themselves 7-1 down in the closing minutes when they hit a couple of consolation goals.
In the midweek games, Bacup Borough beat AFC Blackpool 1-0 at West View while Norton United lost their fourth game in a row and are rooted to the foot of the table.
The Staffordshire side, like fellow NWCFL side Holker, without a point all season, are faring rather differently in the FA Cup and also drew their away tie, 4-4, at Cradley Town, before winning the replay 5-0.
Early August 2012
The NWCFL kicked off early on the 4 th of the month, and it was a case of deja-vu for Darwen as they began the campaign at Ashton Town. Last term they lost 4-0 and once again they conceded four times and even though they scored three of their own, they still left empty handed.
Their first home game saw them entertain a Holker Old Boys side who began the season disastrously with a 7-0 home defeat by Abbey Hey. In a game which I saw, Darwen ran out easy winners 3-0 with the home goal coming under threat just once in the entire 90 minutes. The official report credited two goals to the impressive Lee but the Holker right back clearly turned one of those into his own net.
The good form continued into the next game where they faced Northwich Villa at Fixton and cruised to a 4-2 victory in front of just 12 hardy souls. Northwich are playing home games at now defunct Flixton after the Manchester side ‘packed it in’ last season after years of apathy from the locals.
Nelson’s indifferent pre-season form didn’t stop them from making a fantastic start to the season as they surged to the top of the table after the opening week with three straight wins.
An Egan hat-trick was the highlight of a 3-1 win at Irlam, a 5-2 home win against Atherton L.R. in front of an excellent three-figure crowd was followed by a 2-1 win against Leek CSOB at Victoria Park with goals, from Egan and a last minute winner from Whitwell.
The FA Cup began and local sides Barnoldswick Town, Squires Gate made early exits. Barlick were surprisingly beaten 2-0 at Barton Town Old Boys while Russ McKenna’s boys lost 3-0 at fellow NWCFL side Maine Road.
‘Gate’ were then involved in a thriller at School Road when they entertained Alsager. Leading 2-1 with just minutes to play, the Bullets scored twice in two minutes but a minute later Russ’ side hit back to earn a point.
A trip to the Silentnight Stadium looked like yielding three points as McKenna’s men led 2-1 with time almost up but goals in the 89 th and 90 th minutes gave Barlick the points.
Padiham made it through thanks to a narrow 1-0 home win against Wigan Robin Park before a crowd of 135 while neighbours Colne could only draw 0-0 with Congleton Town at Holt House. Colne then went down 2-1 at home to fancied St. Helens with Harwood old-boys Steve Pickup and Ed O’Neil both completing the 90 minutes for the Reds.
The same two players also completed the whole of the following game at Ashton Athletic where Steve in particular had an outstanding game in defence as a Hart hat-trick helped them to a 3-1 win.
NWCFL new boys Chorlton & West Didsbury began with a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Formby with the Squirrels winner coming in the final minute. An excellent three-figure crowd witnessed the Manchester side’s league debut.
They soon registered their first points though with a 3-0 success at Chadderton and followed that with a 4-2 win at Oldham Boro. The travelling support hardly competed with Harwood’s as the game attracted just 15 spectators.
One of the most exciting ties of the extra preliminary round involved two NWCFL teams, AFC Blackpool and AFC Liverpool and it was the visitors who made it through with their first ever FA Cup win, 6-3.
Our Devon friends, Buckland Athletic edged home 2-1 against Bridport while some of our ex-opponents enjoyed mixed fortunes.
Crook Town beat Penrith 2-1 at home while Norton and Stockton Ancients live to fight another day after forcing a 2-2 draw at Pontefract Collieries.
Winterton Rangers took on Bacup Borough and the visitors emulated Great Harwood Town by winning in East Yorkshire, the score, 3-0.
The other East Yorks. side that we’ve met recently, Hall Road Rangers, lost 2-1 at Staveley Miners Welfare.
Brent Peters’ boys travelled to West Yorkshire to take on Silsden where the home side came out on top, 1-0, before over 200 fans. Silsden were then involved in a terrific West Yorkshire Cup tie where visitors Brighouse overturned a two-goal half-time deficit to win 3-2.
Matt Derbyshire is still struggling to make an impression at Nottingham Forest and he was not involved in the 3-1 win against Aston Villa but replaced Reid after 55 minutes in the 2-0 defeat by West Brom.
The next friendly game saw Forest go two up inside 15 minutes against Notts. County with Matt entering the fray on 55 minutes as a replacement for Findlay. A great run down the right was followed by a superb ball to set up McGoldrick but his effort was saved.
Things turned sour in the final few moments as Matt conceded a free kick on the edge of the box from which ex-Rovers player Alan Judge scored the equaliser.
Simon Garner played for Chorley as they took on a Blackburn Rovers side featuring plenty of players with first team experience. He set up Denham to score one of the Magpies two goals but the Rovers hit back to win 3-2.
After two heavy league defeats, Holker Old Boys earned a great 1-1 draw at Newton Aycliffe in the FA Cup.
Truro look set to continue in business after their striking players were finally paid their wages.
Four of the Blackburn and Darwen Robins travelled over to Fleetwood to see Matt Derbyshire in action for Nottingham Forest in the League Cup tie but we all left disappointed as the ex-Harwood legend remained on the bench despite the visitors making three changes during the second half after a lack-lustre opening period.
After a number of summer signings at the City Ground, maybe Matt will have to move on to gain a regular first team place and as far as the Harwood supporters are concerned, it’s ‘O’DRISCOLL OUT!’
Ramsbottom United were glad to see the back of June-the wettest one on record-as their Riverside Ground was left under a foot of water. Thankfully all was back to normal after a few days of dry weather and apart from a little damage to the dressing rooms, no lasting damage was done.
The Rams started off their pre-season with a trip to neighbours Colne where the home side won 3-2. Next up was a trip to Bootle where they also conceded three times but at least they forced a draw.
Colne’s victory in the afore-mentioned game owed as much to Harwood legend Bobby Harris as it did to substitute hat-trick hero Micky Saunders. Despite going behind, the Reds fought back to lead 3-1 before Bobby produced a series of saves to help his side to victory.
That win followed on from a 3-1 success at Rochdale Town and the good run continued as Radcliffe Borough were beaten 2-1 at Holt House.
Bacup Borough took on St Johns in the Isle of Man and drew 2-2 and lost 2-0 at Fulwood Amateurs while Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate enjoyed a 2-1 win against Bishop Auckland at School Road.
Brent Peters’ side then lost 3-1 at home to Mossley.
Padiham won 1-0 at Coppull United who’d beaten Nelson 3-1 a few days earlier.
The Admirals lost again next time out, 1-0 at home to Oldham Borough.
Barnoldswick Town also travelled to the Chorley area to take on Euxton Villa and won 3-1 before playing at AFC Fylde and earning a creditable 0-0 draw before a crowd of 60.
James Dean made his debut for the home side, completing the first half before making way at the break.
He then pitched his wits against a much stronger side in Chester and shot just wide after 29 minutes before setting up Winter who fired just wide. He then ‘scored’ after 36 minutes but the strike was disallowed for a foul. A fantastic attendance of 489 saw Deano’s new side run out 1-0 winners.
A crowd of around half that size witnessed another home friendly where a young Wigan Athletic side went down 2-0 with Deano coming on as a 61 st minute substitute.
A young Accrington Stanley side were Fylde’s next opponents and proved no match for the ambitious Kirkham side who hammered their illustrious neighbours 6-0.
Deano scored the 5 th a couple of minutes before the break and the Stanley keeper saved his side from a much heavier defeat after half time.
Team-mate from last season, Simon Garner, completed the 90 minutes in all of Chorley’s opening three friendly games. They drew 0-0 at AFC Blackpool, won 6-0 at West Lancs. League neighbours Eagley before beating Blackpool 2-1 at Bloomfield Road.
Clitheroe entertained two NWCFL sides in Maine Road and Runcorn Linnets, winning the first game 1-0 and drawing the second 2-2.
Darwen look to be in good form going into the new season, defeating two sides from higher levels at the Anchor. Ashton United were beaten 2-1 before highly-rated Stalybridge Celtic were thrashed 3-0.
They next took on a young Padiham side who won 2-1, while the Storks first eleven thrashed a young Accrington Stanley side 4-0.
In their final warm-up game, the Salmoners hammered last season’s champions Wigan Robin Park 8-1 at the Anchor to give encouragement to their supporters for the coming campaign.
NWCFL new boys West Didsbury and Chorlton suffered two heavy home defeats but then got back to winning ways soon afterwards.
They lost 6-1 to Maine Road and 4-0 to AFC Liverpool before beating Welshpool Town, 3-1, and St. Helens Town, 2-1, at the same venue.
Matt Derbyshire finally got some 1 st team action under his belt in Nottingham Forest’s first friendly at Mansfield Town. He came on a half time substitute but found it difficult to make much impact as the Reds went down 2-1. He’s been given a new squad number at the City Ground, 27, which if memory serves me right, was his shirt number at Ewood Park.
Our old friends Boston United made it through to the Lincolnshire Cup Final after defeating Lincoln United 4-0 and Stamford, 5-3 on penalties after a 3-2 draw, both games away from home.
As usual, very little to report on this month but we have another new match report and photo on the latest update.
We won’t be following Halifax Town too closely this season as both ex-Harwood players have recently left.
Simon Garner has joined ambitious Chorley while James Dean has joined the AFC Fylde revolution.
Deano scored 83 times in 130 appearances for the Yorkshire side including 40 in his first season there and is the all-time leading scorer at the Shay since the club re-formed.
Simon signed for the Magpies despite efforts from Fylde to keep the two ex-Robins together and one of his first games will see him pit his wits against the Rovers in a pre-season friendly at Victory Park on Tuesday August 14 th.
Hopefully we’ll have more of Matt Derbyshire to talk about during the coming season after his illness-plagued last campaign when he played just 16 games, 8 from the bench, scoring two goals. Forest play Fleetwood in the League Cup so many Harwood supporters will no doubt be visiting the re-vamped Highbury Stadium for that one.
In the NWCFL, Widnes haven’t been able to join the competition as they don’t currently play in one of the step 7 feeder leagues.
Oldham Borough (Town), have had to vacate their Whitebank Stadium because when clubs ground-share with clubs from another sport-Oldham Rugby League Club play there-they must have priority of fixtures. The Rugby Club now own the Stadium so that specification couldn’t be adhered to. Borough will now play their home games at Atherton Collieries Alder House ground.
Bacup Borough have been docked three points and fined £300 for their failure to fulfil their home fixture against Colne, who themselves have been awarded the three points.
Borough insist that the NWCFL have failed to stick to their own rules during the end of season fixture pile-up and will appeal against the decision.
Woodley Sports have changed their name following their relegation back into the NWCFL and will be known as Stockport Sports.
Flixton have re-signed from the Premier League, not surprising considering the poor support they receive from the local populace.
That decision by the Manchester club means that St. Helens Town have been reprieved from relegation.
Norton United have received a grant of over £65,000 from the Football Foundation so their ground should see some improvements over the coming months.