Season 2013-14 Latest News



Late June

Sad news for the whole area as Eric Whalley passed away.

The only word that describes him is legend, not only for Accrington Stanley but for Clitheroe and of course, Great Harwood Town.

Eric enjoyed unrivalled success as manager of Clitheroe, who he took to titles in the 3 rd, 2 nd, and 1 st Divisions of the North West Counties League in successive years in the 1980’s.

He then took over at the Showground and continued with his ‘Midas’ touch, guiding us to the NWCFL 2 nd Division title in 1990/91 along with our best-ever showing in the FA Vase, a ¼ final appearance. His incredible record continued unabated as we gained promotion from the 1 st Division in 91/92. The following season saw us finish in our highest-ever league position, 8 th in the Northern Premier League Division One, and consolidation in 9 th spot in 1993/94, before he took over the Chairmanship of neighbours Accrington Stanley, guiding them into the Football League against all the odds.

After his departure, we then finished in 16 th and 19 th positions before being relegated back to the NWCFL.

Great Harwood FC would have folded years before we did thanks to Eric allowing us to use the Crown Ground for home games and was invariably be present if Stanley weren’t playing on the same day.

He was also always willing to put his hand in his pocket to help us out as we struggled financially.

He was also a huge success in Lancashire League cricket as well as in the business world with his firm EW Cartons.

Eric Whalley, you’ll be sadly missed but never forgotten.

Aldershot Town and GHTFC supporter Paul Clark will be hoping for a better season this time around as the Shots won’t be starting with a big points deduction and they’ve just signed two players from crisis club Salisbury City, Glen Wilson and Dan Fitchett.

The friendly games started very early for Nelson and they won their first outing, 4-1 at Croston Sports Club.

Early June

Whilst looking at the final tables for the Accrington Combination League, I was surprised to see the Division One champions Great Harwood Town. I’m not sure whether they are a new club or an existing one who’s changed their name but if anyone from the club reads this, then get in touch and I’ll make sure that your progress gets a regular mention on the web site.

The runners up in that division were Park and I have news of their ‘vets’ team. They’ve started competing in a veteran’s league and have an abundance of ex-Great Harwood Town players in their side. Neil Kennedy, Paul Demaine, Paul Whalley, Neil Baron, Andy Taylor, Graham Lightbown, Damian McKay, Adie Prestige, Mark Heyes and Dennis Hill all turned out as they defeated Shevington 3-2 at the LFA ground at Leyland.

The following game saw them making short work of Whalley Range, who they beat 4-0, but in the next outing they lost 3-2 to Lancashire Police thanks to some highly debatable refereeing decisions by an official who seemed keen to ingratiate himself to the ‘thin blue line’!!!!! Park had led 2-1 before dodgy penalty and offside decisions went against them.

At the top of the non-league tree, Hereford United and Salisbury have both been expelled from the Conference, leading to more chaos further down the ‘pyramid’ as clubs have been reprieved and others been moved into different leagues as a result.

One team that’s been affected badly is Lowestoft Town as they’ve been switched from the Conference South to the North meaning trips to the likes of Barrow and Colwyn Bay.

Chester, after years of progress, were relegated but the problems of the other clubs has given them a lifeline and another year in the top flight.

Two years ago, Formby had ten sides with differing age groups but by last season they’d been reduced to just one and now the football club has folded completely.

Ironic that the highlights of their 94 year history all came in the last two years with records being broken left, right and centre but the move to their new ground at the edge of town resulted in poor attendances-last season’s brilliant effort on the pitch was rewarded by a paltry average crowd of just 58 and with the committee being reduced to only four members, the decision was made to ‘pull the plug’.

A very sad end to a club, like ours, steeped in history and performing superbly on the playing field.

The NWCFL has decided that with falling numbers, the reserve division has been scrapped.

Next season will see three clubs relegated from the Premier League with the top two from the First Division and one more from the play-offs replacing them. That should keep the season alive for many more clubs in the lower division.

Cammell Laird 1907 have been accepted into the competition but Stockport Town’s application has surprisingly been rejected.

The average attendances for the league have revealed that Bacup Borough were the worst supported club in the Premier Division last term with less than 50 which must be hugely disappointing for Brent Peters who’s put his heart and soul into making the club a success. The change of name to incorporate Rossendale has had no effect whatsoever.

Bacup weren’t the only club in the division who failed to attract the crowds as only eight averaged three-figures.

Meanwhile, in the 1 st Division, 1874 Northwich were obviously the best supported club but Darwen supporters showed terrific loyalty despite an indifferent season on the pitch and they were the 2 nd best with an average turn-out of 114.

The Matt Derbyshire feature in the ‘Legends’ section of the site has been updated.

Late May

The big news from the end of May was the signing of Matt Derbyshire was Steve Evans and Rotherham United.

Matt’s signed a two-year deal with the Championship newcomers after being released by Nottingham Forest and he’ll be hoping to put one over on them next season, along with ex-clubs Rovers and Blackpool.

Ex-Boston United manager Evans has a CV unmatched in football with promotions achieved with all of his previous clubs.

Fleetwood Town’s rise through the league’s has been little short of miraculous and if the story had been pencilled in for a Roy of the Rovers magazine it would probably have been rejected as being too far fetched.

They secured their place in League One after a 1-0 win at Wembley against Burton Albion. That made it six promotions in 10 years and the ridiculous decision to dismiss the highly successful manager Mickey Melon by Chairman Andy Pilley has ended up being justified.

Graham Alexander has helped continue the club’s rise since we played them in our penultimate season in the NWCFL when a crowd of three figures was a highlight. Nathan Pond appeared at Wembley and he was in the side during their NWCFL days.

Just for the record, our last game against them was on 2 nd March 2005 at the Crown Ground when a crowd of 126 saw us more than hold our own against the Champions before going down 3-0.

They finished with 99 points, 7 clear of Newcastle Town while we finished bottom, just three points from safety.

Gt harwood town finished the season in 206 th place in the NLP fantasy league and how we dropped over a hundred places in the final week is a total mystery to me!!

With only the Skrill Premier play-off final to go, we were in 100 th place and with winners Cambridge United being on our list, we could surely have only gone upwards!!

United made it back into the Football League after 13 years as they defeated Gateshead at Wembley in front of 20,000 fans. The North Easterners left the League 54 years ago and their long wait goes on for at least one more year.

Wessex League Sholing produced a memorable performance in lifting the FA Vase by beating Northern League West Auckland Town 1-0 at Wembley in front of a disappointing turn out of 5,431.

Locally, AFC Fylde are hoping to make it into the Football League by 2022 and according to their Chairman, they are well ahead of schedule after gaining promotion to the Skrill North recently. That looked highly unlikely at the turn of the year with the Coasters lying in 10 th spot before a terrific run of form took them into the play-offs.

At the same time as they turned around their form, Skelmersdale United went the other way and a series of poor results saw them miss out but they did win the PFA Fair Play Award with just 42 yellow and 2 red cards.

Stafford Rangers have a long and successful past in the higher reaches of the non-league world but they suffered their 3 rd relegation in just six years and yet another manager, Graham Heathcote, has left the club this month after he felt unable to continue with the budget that he’d have to work with next season.

Farnborough have been fined £5,000 for drug testing one of their own players. Their suspicions were confirmed and the player in question was sacked but the governing body said that they were the only ones who could drug test players and imposed the penalty. The club admitted their mistake but as their actions were vindicated, the heavy fine appears to be nothing short of ridiculous.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic had a good season on and off the pitch down in the South West but other clubs in the region have endured some problems.

Torre, of the South Devon League, have quit after one of their players assaulted a referee who needed hospital treatment after the incident, as did the 18 year-old ref. who was in charge of the Cornish Trelawney League game between Hayle and Storm, which the home side won 3-2.

Macclesfield Town and Hereford United are two of the latest clubs to be having problems and both need to convince the Conference officials that they can ‘fulfil their obligations’ next season before their inclusion can be confirmed.

Plenty of clubs won’t be playing in the divisions they thought they’d be in next season after several resignations.

Worksop Town resigned from the Evo-stik Premier after years of ‘ground problems’. 48 hours later they withdraw that request but the League refused leaving the club without a league to play in nest season.

That decision benefited Kidsgrove Athletic who were saved from relegation to the NWCFL. That in turn saved Bacup from the drop into the NWCFL 1 st Division.

1 st Division runners-up Formby have resigned from the League but any thoughts of bottom Premier side Wigan Robin Park had of a reprieve were quashed as the team finishing at the foot of the a league table must go down.

That was good news for 3 rd placed 1874 Northwich who now take Formby’s place in the Premier Division.

Leek CSOB have not surprisingly resigned from the League considering the pitiful attendances they draw and the long travelling distances involved.

They’ll be replaced by Barton, near Northwich, who come in from the Cheshire League after finishing 5 th last season. Any clubs wishing to join the League must finish in the top five so they just about made it as did another newcomer, Litherland Remyca.

When the Merseysiders finished their fixtures in the Liverpool County Premier League, a 7 th place spot was achieved, which appeared to end their hopes of promotion, but then another club was found guilty of playing an ineligible player and Remyca were awarded an extra three points, taking them up to 6 th.

After the remaining League fixtures were completed, somehow the club went up to 5 th on goal difference and secured their place in the NWCFL for next season.

Two more clubs, Stockport Town, and Cammell Laird 1907, have also applied to join the competition and their applications will be dealt with soon. Laird are a new club, founded by members of the old one and will play at the same venue, Kirklands Stadium.

A new club, Blackburn Town, were unsuccessful with their bud to join.

Colne have a new Chairman, Shaun O’Neill, who helped form the Football Club in 1996.

Ex-Robins Simon Garner and Ryan Parr are hoping for a much more successful time next season with Clitheroe after a 17 th place finish in the Evo-stik North. The Blues also lost their final five games without scoring a goal.

Early May

Matt Derbyshire ended the season at Nottingham Forest playing games and scoring goals, like he’s done throughout his career, so it must have come as quite a shock to him when he was told that he wouldn’t be offered a new contract.

It would seem strange that incoming manager Stuart Pearce pulled the trigger, especially as he’d seen what Matt could do whilst playing for England.

He won Forest’s goal of the season for his cracker against Leeds United, with a whopping 41% of fans voting for him, and he also finished the campaign with four goals in four games.

His ten goals in all competitions made him second top scorer, just two goals behind Paterson.

His final appearance was in the home game against play-off chasing Brighton & Hove Albion, who needed to win to make it into the top six. Matt saw his early shot sail just over the bar before putting the Reds into a 1-0 half-time lead with one of the weakest goals he’s ever scored. He met a left wing cross but a poor header just about made it into keeper Kuszczak’s hands-hands that looked as though they were covered in grease as the ball somehow squirmed through his grasp and over the line-JUST!

Albion, supported by 2,000 travelling fans, went all-out attack after the re-start and equalised but with well over the 90 minutes on the clock, looked to have blown their chances. A header from Ulloa then found its way through Matt’s legs as he stood on the goal line to end a disappointing season for a Forest side who looked ‘nailed on’ for promotion after the turn of the year when they were hammering the likes of Watford, Rovers and West Ham amongst others.

Paul Salt made the mistake of booking his holidays to commence after the football season was over, not thinking that his Altrincham favourites could be involved in the play-offs and he missed the tense 2 nd leg at home to Hednesford Town.

A near 2,000 crowd saw the Robins’ hopes slipping away after an 80 th minute strike put the visitors ahead but they hit back with goals in the 85 th and 87 th minutes, from Reeves and Lawrie, give them a 4-3 aggregate victory and a home final against Guiseley.

The Yorkshire side defeated North Ferriby United 3-0 on aggregate and the club laid on free transport for their supporters to Alty.

4,632, the biggest home attendance this century, packed into Moss Lane and they witnessed a tense, tight affair that finished 1-1 and led to extra-time.

With 119 minutes on the clock, Greg Wilkinson was brought on from the bench as he’s a ‘dab-hand’ with penalty kicks, but they weren’t required after he scored with his first touch to send his side back into non-league’s top division.

One of the clubs replacing them in the Skrill North will be AFC Fylde after they came from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Ashton United, before winning the penalty shoot-out 4-3 with keeper Ben Hinchcliffe hitting the winning spot kick.

In the Evo-stik North, Ramsbottom United capped another memorable season by making it to the Premier Division after a final win at Bamber Bridge.

A 6 th minute goal set them up but Brig equalised 15 minutes later and that’s the way it stayed until three minutes from time when the Rams looked to have scored the winner.

A flare thrown onto the pitch delayed the game for a couple of minutes but in the 95 th minute the home side were awarded a controversial penalty which was converted with the final kick of the game meaning extra-time would be played.

Just before the end of the 1 st period, Brig had a header cleared off the Rammy goal line and 15 seconds later the ball was nestling in the other net to make it 2-1.

Keeper Fearon made the save of the game on 117 minutes to preserve the Rams lead and give them an unlikely promotion, bearing in mind that they lost their opening four games and later had three points deducted.

Andy Procter’s future could be away from Gigg Lane as he ended the campaign as an unused substitute for Bury’s game at Morecambe. A goalless draw saw the Shakers finish in 12 th spot.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon finished in 20 th place, just 3 points above the drop zone after their final game ended in a 3-2 defeat at our old landlords Accrington Stanley. Almost 2,000 turned up to see the Reds storm into a 3-0 lead after just 47 minutes but they were left biting their finger nails as the Dons made it 3-2. The home victory was only Stanley’s 6 th of the season but a final placing of 15 th was a massive success.

Fleetwood Town finished in 4 th position, just outside the promotion places after losing 2-1 at Chesterfield, a win which gave the Spirites the Championship.

The play-off semi-final 1 st leg at York was postponed late after heavy rain but played two days later and a Matty Blair goal against his former club gave Town a 1-0 lead to take into the second leg.

Exiting the Football League for the 1 st time in their history were Bristol Rovers who only occupied a relegation spot for the final 54 minutes of the season.

They’ll be playing Grimsby Town there after they failed in the Conference play-offs for the 4 th season in a row. They were beaten by Gateshead in front of a mind-boggling 8,144 at the International Stadium. The ‘Heed’ had been attracting 6-800 fans for most home games this term so the turn-out must have been a great surprise to club officials. The game saw their unbeaten run stretch to 14 games since their last defeat in February.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic won 3-2 at Melksham Town before entertaining Western League Champions Larkhall Athletic in their final game of the season knowing that victory would leave them in 7 th place, but despite a spirited performance, before a great turn-out of 177, the champs won 2-0 to win the league by a massive 21 points.

The FA Vase was won by minnows Sholing who defeated favourites West Auckland Town 1-0 at Wembley. The win capped a great win for club having already won the Wessex League and Southampton Senior Cup.

In the United Counties League, poor old Woodford United ended the season with a 13-0 (9-0 at half time) home defeat against Burton Park Wanderers, a narrow 1-0 home loss to Buckingham Town, and a 9-0 defeat at Peterborough Sports to leave them with one win and 41 defeats for the campaign, 23 goals scored and 223 conceded. Things can only get better!

Another non-league football club have folded after vandals wreaked havoc at their Phoenix Park ground. Northern Counties East side Dinnington Town had their nets slashed, seats broken, fires started, mini goals smashed and plastic shards driven into the pitch. But don’t blame the scum, “there’s nothing for them to do in the evenings!!”

With only a couple of results left, Fantasy League side Gt Harwood Town are currently 101 st, one place down from the previous week and desperate to make the top 100 by the end of the season.

Late April

Matt Derbyshire has finally been given some first team time but it’s come too late for Nottingham Forest to make the play-offs. Matt started in the home game against struggling Birmingham City and it took him just 99 seconds to hit the only goal of the game. He was put through by Patterson for a ‘one-on-one’ with the Blues keeper and made no mistake. On 18 minutes he completely outpaced the visitor’s defence to set up a chance for Osborn who headed just over the bar.

On 26 minutes his great shot curled just wide and in the early stages of the second period he headed a fraction over before being subbed 13 minutes from time.

Not surprisingly Matt started the following game at Leeds United where once again he scored an early opener. This time it took him just 91 seconds to put the Reds in front and less than quarter of an hour later his second more or less sealed the points and 2-0 was how it finished. That was only his 6 th start in the league and his 6 th goal and after the game caretaker manager Gary Brazil singled out the ex-Harwood star for some high praise.

Those two victories brought the Reds back into the play-off picture but a 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth saw their hopes extinguished. Matt set up MacLaughlin who scuffed his shot wide and on 39 minutes his angled shot was well saved.

Once again, he completed the full 90 minutes.

Andy Procter was an unused substitute as Bury took apart play-off chasing Plymouth Argyle at Gigg Lane to continue their excellent run of form and took the Shakers from relegation candidates to play-off outsiders themselves but a 1-0 defeat at York City ended those hopes with Andy once again remaining on the bench.

The next game saw Portsmouth visit Lancashire and they, like Bury, have pulled themselves well away form the lower reaches of League Two to ensure safety. The Shakers took a 2-0 lead into the break with Andy coming on for Platt in the 30 th minute and just three minutes after the re-start, his brilliant diving header made it three and surely the three points. With 8 minutes remaining, Pompey had fought back to leave them just a goal behind but Bury’s 4 th in the 87 th minute ended the visitors hopes-or maybe not! Portsmouth hit back immediately and then scored in the final minute to claim a point after a great eight goal thriller.

Don Fitzgerald saw his AFC Wimbledon side go two goals down at home to Newport County after 47 minutes but they fought back to earn a point.

Next up for the Dons was a trip to Devon to take on Plymouth Argyle and they again went behind before fighting back to win 2-1 and in doing so, ensured their safety and ended Argyle’s play-off hopes.

Another home game, against Morecambe followed, and a chance to reward their loyal supporters but another poor home performance saw them go down 3-0.

Fitz’s other local side, the Robins of Carshalton Athletic, had already been relegated from the Ryman Premier League when they entertained Margate but it was the Kent side who did all the entertaining in a comprehensive 6-0 win.

In the Skrill Premier League, Paul Clark’s fears proved to be unfounded as Aldershot Town secured their safety.

They defeated Salisbury City 3-2 at the ‘Rec’ to move three points clear and a 2-1 win at Woking, in front of a near 5,000 crowd, saw them all but mathematically safe and those points proved to be crucial as a last day 2-1 home defeat by Hereford United meant that the Shots stayed up on goal difference.

The Bulls looked to be on their way down until an 88 th minute winner saw them also survive on goal difference after an 86 th minute Salisbury equaliser at Chester put the Cheshire side down instead.

Southport ended the campaign just two points clear and that was due to a great 2-2 draw at promotion chasing Gateshead and a fine 2-1 home win against play-off qualifiers Halifax Town. The Shaymen had led at the break much to the delight of the 1,000 travelling fans but the Sandgrounders fought back brilliantly to extend their stay in the Division.

The boot was on the other foot in their final fixture at Welling where they fought back from one down to lead 3-1 at the break but the Wings hit back to win 4-3.

Soon afterwards, manager John Coleman resigned, stating that at his age he should be managing in the Football League.

In the Skrill North, Paul Salt’s Altrincham secured their place in the play-offs with some devastating late season form. After a goalless draw at Stockport County, before 3,770 fans, Vauxhall Motors were brushed aside 5-1 at Moss Lane before another disappointing home turn-out of 831 and then hit another five, without reply at relegated Histon. The game was all over after 15 minutes with the Robins already 3-0 to the good.

In the same Division, Boston United all but ended North Ferriby United’s title hopes with a 2-0 win at York Street but it proved insufficient for the Pilgrims to make the play-offs themselves as they finished in 6 th spot.

The fight to join them next season went to the final day and it was Chorley who triumphed.

After wobbling a few weeks ago, they re-found their top form, drawing 1-1 at Whitby Town, and then beating Marine 4-2 at Victory Park with James Dean scoring twice in front of over 2,000 fans. More than half of those travelled to Buxton for the final game knowing that a win would secure the title and two Hine goals did just that.

In the Skrill South, Mike Barry’s side, Eastbourne Borough, finally had their play-off ambitions scuppered by a 1-0 defeat at Ebbsfleet United.

Phil O’Dell’s favourites FC United won 3-2 at Stamford thanks to a Norton hat-trick in front of over 1,200 supporters and then drew 3,056 fans to Gigg Lane to see them take on local rivals Ashton United and their title ambitions were in tatters at the break with the Robins 2-0 up but goals in the 62 nd, 72 nd, and 90 th minutes kept the Reds in the hunt.

A 3-0 win at Barwell saw them finish with 108 goals scored and 96 points won but for the 4 th season running, it was on to the play-offs.

For the 4 th season they proved one step too far as the Reds went down 2-1 at home to Ashton United. A 1 st half penalty looked like being enough to send them through to the final but an injury time equaliser sent the game into extra time and with 120 minutes on the clock and penalties looming, the visitors struck the winner.

AFC Fylde also topped the 90 point mark despite losing their 23 game unbeaten run at home to Grantham Town. 2-1 the score with Richie Allen on the mark for the Coasters and he hit another two in a great 5-0 win at Skelmersdale United. They finished their league fixtures with a 1-0 home win against Kings Lynn Town and then entertained Worksop Town in the play-off semi-final. An Allen hat-trick saw them through to the final after a 3-1 win.

Skem meanwhile somehow missed the play-offs despite their devastating early season form. Before the Fylde defeat, their hopes were extinguished after a 4-1 loss at Ashton United. They ended the season with a 4-0 win at relegated Stocksbridge PS.

Simon Garner’s Clitheroe finished in 17 th place after losing 3-0 at home to Champions Curzon Ashton and 2-0 at Padiham.

The Storks secured safety with a 1-1 draw at Lancaster City, who missed a penalty, before the Clitheroe win and a 3-0 success at Ossett Albion saw them finish in 19 th spot, 13 points clear of the drop zone.

Ramsbottom United claimed the final play-off position after a very exciting finale. They trailed 3 rd placed Warrington 2-1 at the Riverside before goals in the 88 th minute, a penalty, and a 93 rd minute winner before 366 fans.

A 2-1 win at Salford City was followed by a home game against 4 th placed Bamber Bridge and a goalless draw saw them pip Lancaster to claim the all important 5 th place.

A trip to Darlington in the play-offs saw the Rams produce a terrific performance to win 2-0 and make it through to the final.

There they’ll meet Bamber Bridge who also won away, 1-0 at Warrington Town.

Ossett Town and Ossett Albion were both happy to draw a three-figure attendance for home games but when the sides met at Easter they attracted a cracking turn-out of 351 with visitors Albion claiming the bragging rights with a 1-0 win.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Brent Peters Bacup suffered a last day heartbreak by being relegated.

They ended the campaign with a 2-0 home victory over Glossop North End, and were then beaten 2-0 by Runcorn Town, also at West View. Despite that defeat, they were still three points clear and then drew 1-1 at Colne before a final day 1-1 draw at Abbey Hey.

That was enough to save the Mancunians, but with Alsager Town and Squires Gate both beneath Bacup, they went into the final stages of the afternoon in confident mood, even more so when news of their rivals came through.

Squires Gate trailed 1-0 at Ashton Athletic but fought back to win 2-1, saving them, and Alsager trailed 2-1 at home to Wigan Robin Park. The Bullets hit a 70 th minute equaliser but Bacup were still safe until an 89 th minute winner. The three sides that stayed up finished on 40 points with Bacup just one behind and a better goal difference than any of the others.

At the top of the table, our old adversaries Norton United took the title by 5 points from Runcorn Linnets. It was clinched in great style with a 4-0 victory at Winsford United. They amassed 100 points with a 1-0 win at Glossop in front of a crowd of 245, and also passed the 100 goal mark. Linnets can count themselves very unfortunate as they scored 103 goals and earned 95 points.

The Easter derby in Runcorn was watched by a fantastic turn-out of 592 with Linnets hammering Town 4-0.

Of our local sides, Barnoldswick Town did Bacup no favours by losing 2-0 at Alsager Town before a 3-1 defeat at Silsden and a 2-1 home loss to Ashton Athletic. They finished with a 1-1 draw at home to Runcorn Linnets before only 115 supporters at the Silentnight Stadium.

Colne beat Bootle 2-1 at Holt House before a healthy 135, and continued that good form with a tremendous 2-1 win at Runcorn Town thanks to two Jason Hart goals.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson won the title after a fantastic season. They clinched promotion with a 4-1 win at Rochdale Town in front of a mammoth (for Rochdale) 63 fans) which followed on from a 3-0 victory at Northwich Flixton Villa in front of only 19 spectators so once again the local populous have showed their apathy towards the Admirals.

They then clinched top spot with a 3-1 win at neighbours Darwen, despite not being at their best, in front of over 200 fans at the Anchor.

The fight to secure 2 nd position went to the final day after 261 fans saw Formby and 1874 Northwich fight out a goalless draw at Burscough.

That result left Nelson needing a point for the title, which they duly got at Darwen, and Formby needing to defeat a good Atherton Collieries side at home to gain the second promotion spot.

An own goal gave them a 1-0 win and promotion thanks to a better goal difference.

Darwen ended the campaign well despite that last derby defeat, winning 2-1 at Northwich F.V., in front of 22 supporters, and coming from behind to secure a tremendous 4-1 win at Hanley.

They finished with a 1-0 home win against Ashton Town, again in front of a three-figure attendance, a result which ensured an 8 th place position.

Oldham Borough lost 2-1 at home to Cheadle Town in front of just 12 spectators.

Atherton Collieries entertained Atherton L.R. over the Easter period and a huge 251 crowd turned up to see the 0-0 draw.

Rochdale Town have had to play several games a week towards the end of the season and the goals have continued to come in their droves.

A better than average crowd saw them cruising to a 2-0 home win against Widnes before two Tollit goals in the last three minutes secured a point for the visitors.

Ten less turned out for the next game in which Town beat Leek CSOB 2-0.

A long midweek trip to Holker Old Boys on the Tuesday resulted in a 6-3 defeat and that was followed by a 7-0 home win against Irlam the following night in front of 24 fans, with both Smith and Bradbury notching hat-tricks.

We’ve been keeping tabs on hapless Woodford United in the last couple of seasons and they show no signs of turning the corner as their season ended as it began, disastrously. A 6-0 defeat at Eynesbury in their 39 th league game made it 23 goals scored and 200 conceded.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic have enjoyed a great end to the season to finish in the top half of the Western League. A 1-1 draw at home to Willand Rovers was followed by a 3-0 win at 4 th placed Street before a disappointing 2-0 home defeat by Sherbourne Town.

They got back to winning ways with a 3-0 success at Winterbourne United.

Ex-Great Harwood Town star Dave Eastwood continues to do great work at Mill Hill in the Blackburn Sunday League and they clinched the title after a fantastic season. They took on 2 nd placed Clifton with both sides having won 14 and losing one of their fifteen games and a 2-0 win gave Dave’s side the win they needed.

For the record, their results read as follows;

1-0 v Bee Hive (BSFL Charity Trophy)

4-1 v AMT Lawyers

4-2 v Bee Hive

3-2 v New Gardeners

3-2 v AMT Lawyers

6-0 v Rishton Rangers (Blue & White Rosebowl)

4-1 v Longshaw

7-1 v Havelock Inn

2-2 (4-5 on pens) v Oswaldtwistle St. Mary’s (Blue & White Rosebowl)

5-0 v Longshaw

16-0 v Station Hotel

13-0 v Station Hotel

4-1 v Havelock Inn

17-0 v New Gardeners

4-6 v Oswaldtwistle St. Mary’s

5-1 v Clifton

3-1 v Beehive

3-0 v Oswaldtwistle St. Mary’s

2-0 v Clifton

League Record: P 16 W 15 D 0 L 1 F 97 A 18 PTS 30

Early April

Nottingham Forest’s poor run continued as they lost 2-1 at home to bottom-of-the-table Millwall with Matt Derbyshire surprisingly kept on the bench throughout.

Next up was Sheffield Wednesday, also at the City Ground, and at last the ex-Harwood legend was given a start. He took just 58 seconds to make a good impression, heading narrowly wide and on 20 minutes he saw his goal-bound right foot shot blocked by a desperate defender. In the second half, he looked to have been fouled in the penalty area but the referee turned down the appeals.

The game went to form and Wednesday led 3-1 with only 13 minutes left before ten man Forest levelled to take a much needed point.

A trip to stuttering QPR followed but the poor form continued with the Reds being thrashed 5-2 although Matt completed another 90 minutes.

After a quiet 1 st half, personally, with Rangers leading 2-1, Matt waltzed past Dunne to set up Mackie but he failed to take advantage.

15 minutes from time he headed the equaliser but 10 minutes after that QPR made it 3-2. Another header from Matt almost levelled but two goals in stoppage time sealed the points for the Londoners.

He then provided the last action of the game when his 93 rd minute left foot shot was blocked.

Andy Procter’s Bury all but secured their League Two place for next season after two home wins in five days, 2-1 against Bristol Rovers and 2-0 against Exeter City. Andy came on for the final 10 minutes of the first win but remained on the bench for the second and the three points saw the Shakers move up to 11 th.

A tough trip to Scunthorpe United was next and once again Bury produced the goods, drawing 2-2. They had to come from behind twice and Andy entered the fray ten minutes from time with his side trailing 2-1. The point took Scunny to the top of the table.

Also in League Two, Don Fitzgerald’s Wimbledon dominated against Bristol Rovers but had to settle for a point after a 0-0 draw, a result which keeps both teams clear of the drop-zone.

They then won 1-0 at play-off contenders Southend United thanks to a 58 th minute penalty.

Accrington Stanley dominated for large parts of their home game against Northampton Town but despite the Cobblers 1-0 win, they still looked doomed along with Nick Hancock’s local League side, Torquay United.

In the Conference/Skrill Premier, Southport suffered a demoralising 4-0 home defeat against Braintree Town before losing 3-1 at 2 nd placed Cambridge United to remain 4 points above the drop-zone although it looked like being a good day at the Abbey after they took the lead on 16 minutes.

They then picked up a point in a 1-1 home draw with Barnet.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot looked like gaining a good point but an 85 th minute goal saw them go down 1-0 at top-of-the-table Luton Town.

Another tough midweek trip followed, to Alfreton but against all the odds the Shots triumphed 4-1, a score which flattered the home side according to a delighted Paul.

He then made the long trip up north, along with 150 Shots’ fans, to Macclesfield where free entry swelled the crowd to 2,207. I hope none of the travelling faithful left early because their side equalised with a 95 th minute penalty and that point took them out of the drop zone. A surprising stat from the game was that there were no corners for either side.

In Skrill North, I met up with Harwood supporter Paul Salt, now following the Robins of Altrincham, for the ‘six-pointer’ against Boston United at Moss Lane and we both went home fairly satisfied after a hard fought 0-0 draw. The programme notes mentioned the fact that the teams on show were the two leading scorers in the Division so a goalless draw looked highly unlikely!

Nevertheless, it proved to be an entertaining game for the very low turn-out of 650 with around 50-60 from Boston. Third in the table and leading scorers, the Alty officials can feel very let down by the local populous.

A tough trip to Telford United followed for Salty’s boys and they were beaten 3-1 but still looked ‘nailed on’ for the play-offs at least. That win for the Shropshire side took them to the top of the table despite their 6-1 midweek drubbing at Guiseley.

A small crowd of just 270 saw bottom side Workington host the Robins in what turned out to be a ‘no-contest’, Paul’s boys winning 6-1 much to the delight of the Harwood fan and his travelling companions.

A home clash with title rivals North Ferriby United followed and the game ended 1-1 after Alty trailed at the break. Thankfully a decent crowd of over 1,100 witnessed the clash.

One League below, the title race is exciting as ever although Worksop Town appear to have blown their chances of finishing in top spot after losing 3-1 at home to play-off chasers Rushall Olympic while Ashton United are hanging on to the final spot despite losing 3-1 at home to lowly Ilkeston Town.

The Tigers then led 1-0 at the break before losing to a 90 th minute goal at Skelmersdale United while Fylde won 1-0 at Ilkeston.

Chorley held on to top spot after an amazing 13-1 victory against Droylsden at Victory Park with James Dean netting a hat-trick. He hit his first on 44 minutes making it 7-0! The Magpies had made an incredible start, leading 4-0 after 8 minutes.

The Bloods then came close to earning a point before going down 2-1 at home to Barwell.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United had a much tougher task at Blyth Spartans but triumphed 1-0 and Fylde are still in 3 rd place after a comprehensive 5-0 home win against already relegated Stocksbridge P.S.-Richie Allen hitting a hat-trick.

The big one followed that group of games and 4,152 packed out Gigg Lane for what almost felt like a title decider. Of course over 6,000 turned out to see Great Harwood Town win 1-0 there but we were a big attraction a few years ago.

The Championship appeared to be in the bag for the Magpies who led 2-0 with just 7 minutes remaining but the Red Rebels stormed back to equalise and were left with over 5 minutes to find a winner which sadly for them never came.

Over 3,300 saw United’s next game at home to mid-table Buxton and things were going according to plan with the home side taking a 3 rd minute lead but Buxton soon levelled and scored the decisive 2 nd after an hour to claim a shock result.

The defeat left Chorley with a 6 point lead after they defeated already doomed Stocksbridge PS 3-1 at Victory Park and that left them needing 3 points for the title.

Skelmersdale United’s woe continued as they lost for the 15 th time this season, 1-0 at home to lowly Stamford and there only hope of success is a quick turnaround of fortunes and a 5 th place finish as the leading four clubs are well clear of the field.

In Division One North, Ramsbottom United were held 1-1 at the Riverside by play-off rivals Farsley but then made short work of Kendal Town at the same venue, winning 3-0 with all the goals coming before the break.

The return game at Farsley was next on the agenda and the ‘six-pointer’ looked like going the Rams way until two injury time goals sealed a 3-2 win for the hosts and that defeat looks likely to have ended United’s play-off chances.

Simon Garner’s Clitheroe travelled to high-flying Warrington Town more in hope than expectation and were well beaten 3-0 while Padiham suffered their 22 nd defeat of the season, 3-1 at home to Cammell Laird.

The Blues then lost 2-0 at promotion chasing Bamber Bridge and the Storks lost 1-0 at lowly Radcliffe Borough and 3-0 at Darlington in front of a four-figure crowd.

Leaders Curzon Ashton hammered visitors Prescott Cables 6-0 to leave themselves needing just one win from their last six fixtures to clinch the title. They completed the job two days later with a 1-0 win at Harrogate RA.

In the NWCFL, Brent Peters’ Bacup enjoyed a fine 3-0 home win against Squires Gate but then went down 1-0 to Stockport Sports, also at West View, to keep them in the bottom two. The second of those games was watched by just 27 fans.

Their third and fourth home games in quick succession saw them beat St. Helens 3-2 and Glossop North End 2-0.

Colne couldn’t break down Glossop North End at Holt House and had to settle for a point after a goalless draw and then earned another point with a 1-1 draw at West Didsbury & Chorlton.

The Mancunians had lost 5-2 at Barnoldswick Town a few days earlier.

The Reds then went down 4-2 at AFC Liverpool and 2-1 at Winsford United but a last minute Cavanagh strike earned Barlick a point at home to Congleton Town.

In Division One, Nelson are being pushed all the way to the wire but they show no signs of slipping up and they more or less ended rivals Atherton Collieries hopes by beating them 4-2 at Victoria Park before a reported attendance of 200 (two hundred!)

That defeat was Colls second of the week after they were beaten in an absolute thriller at Rochdale. The attendance of just 22 would suggest that they don’t possess any kind of following, making the Nelson crowd even more unbelievable even though admission was free.

Rochdale started like a house on fire and led 4-0 after only 21 minutes but Colls then got their act together to make it 4-3 by the break. Two quick goals just after half-time made it 6-3 and three more goals arrived in the next seven minutes to leave the score at 7-5 with less than an hour played. Over 20 minutes passed before the next goal which was scored by Atherton, setting up a grandstand finish but five minutes from time Rochdale hit the 14 th and final goal of a classic encounter.

They now have three players who’ve passed the twenty goal mark for the season; Smith, Bradbury and Evans have scored an amazing 85 goals between them.

Colls previous two fixtures had seen them score 11 goals, 6-2 against CheadleTown and 5-1 against Widnes Vikings.

Dale then entertained Cheadle in another ‘derby’ game and only 20 people turned up for the 2-0 defeat.

Two days later they entertained Ashton Athletic in the League Cup semi-final 1 st leg and were beaten 3-1 in front of 43 fans.

They should have hosted Widnes three days later but the pitch was waterlogged.

Two days later they entertained title-chasing Formby and blew them away with a four unanswered strikes in the opening hour before the Squirrels scored a couple of consolation goals.

A days rest then it was over to Premier Division Ashton Athletic for the 2 nd leg of the cup and once again they were beaten 3-1.

Two days on and yet another home game, against bottom side Northwich Flixton Villa who couldn’t stop the irrepressible forwards who notched another bag-full in a 7-2 win.

21 people turned up for that one but the following evening one of them couldn’t make it as the Blues went down 3-2 to Holker Old Boys.

Darwen defeated Chadderton 3-0 at the Anchor before going down 2-0 to title-chasing Formby away in front of 31 spectators.

Back at the Anchor they then defeated Daisy Hill 2-0 thanks to a double from Posteraro and a fine attendance of almost 100 saw the action.

124 turned up for the next game but they went home disappointed after a 3-2 defeat to Oldham.

The Salmoners got back to winning ways with a 2-1 success at Northwich FV.

Only 15 spectators saw a Ryan Ball hat-trick give Leek CSOB a 3-1 win against Daisy Hill.

In the Western League Premier Division, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic enjoyed a great week, beating Hengrove 4-0 at home and bottom of the table Bishop Sutton 6-1 away.

A 1-1 draw at Brislington and a 3-1 home success against Odd Down(Bath) has left them with a good chance of finishing in the top half.

Late March

Matt Derbyshire finally saw some action after he was brought on with 20 minutes to go in Nottingham Forest’s home game against lowly Doncaster Rovers. The Reds struggled to find the breakthrough and had to be content with a point after a goalless draw, Matt heading over the final chance of the contest.

He was again on the bench for the big East Midlands derby at Derby County and was for once probably relieved as Forest were blown away by the rampant Rams in front of a massive 33,000 sell-out crowd. He came on with ten minutes remaining and the Reds already 5-0 down and after seemingly ‘nailed-on’ for at least a play-off spot, they now look like outsiders thanks to their dreadful recent form.

That defeat cost manager Billy Davies his job but that isn’t necessarily going to be good news for Matt as although he obviously wasn’t going to be starting many games under the ex-Preston boss, rumours have suggested that the owner would like a couple of his compatriots starting the games and that may have been the reason why Neil Warnock turned down the job recently.

Next up lowly Charlton Athletic visited the City Ground and pulled off a tremendous 1-0 win-thanks to their only shot on target. Despite the misfiring forwards struggling again for Forest, Matt wasn’t brought on until two minutes from time. That was still long enough for him to set up Djebbour with a deft header but the shot flew high and wide.

In the next game he was given a huge FOUR minutes to make an impact and he almost did with a header that flew narrowly wide leaving Forest settling for a 1-1 draw.

No place in the Bury squad for Andy Procter as the Shakers forced a 0-0 draw at Southend United and he was still absent for the next game at bottom side Torquay United. After a run of 12 unbeaten games Bury must have been red-hot favourites but they were sunk by a 91 st minute goal which gave the Gulls a vital 2-1 win.

The next game saw the Shakers host Dagenham & Redbridge and Andy was back in the squad, albeit on the bench. He entered the fray with the score at 1-1 and he almost provided the winner but his great header cannoned off the crossbar.

A visit to Rodney Parade to face Newport County followed that and Andy came on in the 64 th minute of the goalless draw.

A vital game followed at Northampton Town and a 3-0 win all but secured the Shakers League Two place, Andy entering the fray after 50 minutes with the score at 2-0.

Don Fitzgerald must surely have given up hope as Wimbledon trailed 1-0 at Burton Albion with all five minutes of added time having been played but the game went on…and on….and on…..and in the 98 th minute the Dons struck to secure the unlikeliest of points and at the end of the campaign, it could prove crucial.

They say that lightening doesn’t strike twice but the Dons next game proved the saying is sometimes wrong.

Cheltenham were the visitors to the Cherry Reds Stadium and they looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory as they led 2-0 in front of an impressive turn-out of 3,670 but Wimbledon stormed back with an amazing three goals in four second half minutes. Just a minute later Cheltenham equalised and looked set for a point but in the 96 th minute, the Dons struck another late, late winner to seal a memorable win.

Well, you couldn’t make it up! A visit to Northampton Town followed with the Cobblers knowing that a win would probably put them level on points with Portsmouth and that’s the way it was going after they overturned the Dons early lead but, here we go again!

Once more, in the 96 th minute, Sammy Moore rescued a point but even then Northampton could have won it when Sinclair hit the post in the 98 th minute.

Their luck ran out in the next game at Mansfield Town where a poor performance saw them go down 1-0.

Old landlords Accrington Stanley looked set for a great win at Rochdale and led 1-0 with only 13 minutes remaining but Lund struck twice for Dale with the winner coming in stoppage time.

The Reds then entertained Morecambe who have beaten them in the Football League and the record was maintained in some style as Stanley won 5-1 to move from 3 rd bottom to mid-table.

Their excellent recent form continued as they drew 1-1 at home to play-off chasing Plymouth Argyle and 0-0 at in-form Dagenham & Redbridge.

A 1-0 success at Exeter City saw them move 9 points clear of the drop zone to virtually ensure their safety.

Fleetwood Town v Portsmouth would have been just a ridiculous dream just a few years ago but the sides met at the Highbury Stadium with Pompey arriving as huge underdogs. Despite being backed by the usual huge following, 855, the visitors were well beaten 3-1 and sank to 4 th bottom.

10 years ago Pompey were competing in the Premier League while Fleetwood were still in the NWCFL-the supporters of the respective clubs could not have imagined what was to come in the following years.

In the Skrill Premier, Harwood supporter, and huge pessimist Paul Clark was resigned to seeing his Aldershot side all but relegated despite their great mid-week win. They trailed 2-0 at home to play-off challengers Nuneaton at the break but stormed back to salvage a point backed by the majority of a 1600+ crowd.

The Shot’s cause wasn’t helped by Southport’s tremendous 4-1 home win against Macclesfield Town.

Another home game followed but once again they had to settle for a point as visitors Kidderminster Harriers held out for a 0-0 draw.

Paul then travelled to Braintree but came home disappointed after a 1-0 defeat leaving his side two points from safety.

With the games coming thick and fast, he then saw the Shots entertain play-off chasing Gateshead and things were going well with his side leading 1-0 at the break but early in the second period Williams was sent off leaving the home side up against it and two goals gave the ‘Heed’ victory. That defeat left the Shots four points from safety and desperately needing a couple of wins in the coming weeks.

One of those came with a 1-0 success against bottom side Hyde in a nervy encounter at the Rec. The two sides just above them, Chester and Hereford United both lost leaving the Shots just a single point adrift.

Southport travelled to struggling Chester and found themselves 2-0 down just after half-time but fought back to earn a point with an 89 th minute leveller from Karl Ledsham. It was he who’d brought Southport back into the game with their first goal and then missed a penalty before equalising to delight their 250 travelling supporters. They then gained another valuable point in a 1-1 draw at Kidderminster in a game that would have seen Kiddy move up into 4 th place had they won.

It could have been even better for ‘Port as Fitzpatrick hit the inside of the post with the last kick of the game.

Their much improved home form then continued as they beat Forest Green Rovers 2-0 and that win was vital as they’re still just four points clear of Aldershot as the season enters its final month.

In Skrill North, Altrincham moved up to 5 th after a 1-0 win at Solihull Moors, much to the delight of Great Harwood Town fan Paul Salt and they strengthened their position with a 3-0 win against Gainsborough Trinity at Moss Lane.

The Robins then went 3 rd after their third straight win, 4-1 at home to Bradford Park Avenue and then continued the winning run by beating Colwyn Bay 3-1 in North Wales and by the end of the month were 7 points clear of 6 th place with two game sin hand.

Play-off rivals Boston United looked like slipping up again as they trailed 4-2 at Barrow with the game going into added time but the Pilgrims hot-shot Ricky Miller struck twice to secure the unlikeliest of points.

Home wins against Oxford City and Gloucester City kept them on Alty’s tails.

Also in that division, an amazing story from the Gainsborough Trinity versus North Ferriby United game. The visitors Jarman scored a hat-trick of penalties with all three given after fouls by the home side’s Howes on Wilson. One would have thought that the defender might have been a little more cautious with his tackling after a couple.

In the Evo-stik Premier League, a crowd of over 2,000 saw Phil O’Dell’s FC United continue their good recent form by beating play-off rivals Kings Lynn Town 2-0 with the visitors failing to register a shot on target at Gigg Lane before thrashing lowly Stafford Rangers 4-0 at the same venue to move into 3 rd spot.

An attendance of 1,000 packed out Skelmersdale for United’s next outing and the majority went home delighted after the Reds won 3-1 and condemn Skem to their third home defeat in a row. That result followed a 2-1 loss at Blyth Spartans and a 3-1 home defeat by Witton Albion and the West Lancs. side have gone from top two certainties to fading play-off hopefuls.

The unstoppable Red Rebels then reached the top, the highest position in their short history, when they breezed past Witton Albion 5-2 at Wincham Park. A surprisingly low crowd of 612 watched the game, considering that around 2,000 travelled to most of their away games in the NWCFL 2 nd Division.

I tried in vain to contact Phil with a view to meeting up for the next game, at home to Mark Atkins’ Matlock Town. Over 2,000 saw the Reds go behind just before the break but two Greaves goals made it 11 wins in a row.

Fylde moved up to 2 nd after they completed a quick double against Stamford. A 3-1 away success was quickly followed by a 2-0 home win before a 2-0 win at Frickley.

Chorley’s ‘procession’ to the title now looks in real danger after they lost 1-0 at Rushall Olympic. Around half of the crowd of 253 had travelled down from Lancashire but they saw their favourites distinctly off-colour in the first half although James Dean had two efforts saved. The 1-0 scoreline could and should have been more but for some poor finishing from the hosts. After the re-start, the Magpies were more determined and it looked as though Deano would equalise when through but retreating defenders put pressure on him and he could only shoot straight at the keeper.

Chorley finished the game with ten men after two red cards.

Two days later they took on Fylde in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy Final at the Reebok Stadium and although Deano equalised just before the break, the Coasters went on to claim the silverware after a 4-1 win.

That made it just one win in the last 7 games for the Magpies.

Thankfully, they got back on the right track with a 5-1 thrashing of Nantwich Town at Victory Park with Deano converting a penalty to make it 2-1 at the break and then tapping in on 56 minutes to more or less secure the win.

They then had the chance to re-gain top spot after FC United knocked them off the summit the night before when they travelled to play-off hopefuls Ashton United but they lost 2-1, a result that put the Mancunians into 5 th place at the expense of Skelmersdale.

Deano scored a 25 th minute penalty at Ilkeston which put the Magpies 2-0 up and they went on to win 3-2 with the ex-Harwood star coming close to scoring more goals in each half and claiming the man-of-the-match.

By contrast, Worksop Town had lost only one of their last 7 and the 2-0 success at Trafford took them up to 2 nd and the goals tally to 104.

They then brushed aside Stafford Rangers at Marston Road, again by two goals to nil but struggled at Droylsden before notching an 84 th minute winner in a 7 goal thriller.

Before that game, Droylsden finally won their first game of the season and what a great game it was. They entertained Witton Albion, the visitors fresh from a cracking 3-1 win at Skelmersdale, and incredibly led 3-0 at the break but within 25 minutes of the re-start it was 3-3 and the signs were familiarly bleak but the Bloods dug in to score the final goal and send the loyal few remaining supporters home happy.

Stocksbridge P.S. have joined Droylsden in Division One North next season thanks to their latest defeat which was sealed by ex-Blackburn Rovers and Colwyn Bay player Shelton Payne who hit all of Trafford’s goals in a 3-1 win.

In Division One North, Ramsbottom United visited bogey side New Mills who’d won nine and drawn two of their last 11 clashes but a first half hat-trick from Gaskell broke the jinx.

The Rams had led 3-1 after only 30 minutes and were then presented with the opportunity to more or less seal the points 7 minutes later but Spencer missed a penalty. Just before the break the Millers then converted one of their own and fought hard to draw level but without success. The Blues had lost their goalkeeper Shenton to injury just after their third goal and in the second half had Smalley sent off but hung on to stay on the tails of their four main play-off rivals.

They then defeated Prescott Cable 5-3 at the Riverside to finally move into the play-off positions but the reported attendance of 101must have been a real kick in the teeth for the Rams’ officials.

The club could find themselves in hot water after some of their followers were involved in violent clashes at Stainton Park where rivals Lancaster City were playing Radcliffe Borough. Three people needed hospital treatment after they clashed with City supporters.

Despite being held to a 1-1 draw at Burscough, they moved up into 4 th spot after Lancaster’s defeat against play-off rivals Bamber Bridge.

Padiham suffered another defeat, 1-0 at home to third bottom Radcliffe Borough to leave them eight points clear of the drop zone but then picked up a fine point in a 1-1 draw at Kendal Town. Another home game, against Burscough, gave them the chance to move well away from the drop zone but they went down 2-1.

Their up and down form continued at New Mills where they won 3-2 thanks to two goals in the final 12 minutes, the winner coming in the final minute. Ex-Robin Martin Parkes hit the woodwork in the second half with the score at 1-1.

Simon Garner’s Clitheroe are 18 points clear of the relegation spots despite another defeat, 2-0 at Ossett Town. They restored a bit of pride as they then drew 2-2 at home to Cammell Laird.

Another poor defeat followed, 1-0 at lowly Radcliffe Borough.

A massive 1,429 turned out to see Darlington host leaders Curzon Ashton who moved nine points clear at the top after a fabulous 4-0 victory.

Ossett Albion deserve a mention for their 1-0 win at Cammell Laird. Bottom of the table and almost certain to be relegated, they certainly haven’t given up and earned their 5 th win of the season in front of 31 (thirty one) supporters.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, our local sides continue to struggle in the attendance charts. Bacup could muster only 34 as they went down 1-0 to West Didsbury & Chorlton while 20 more saw an 89 th minute penalty salvage a point for Barnoldswick Town against Alsager Town.

A paltry 53 turned out for the next home game which saw them go down 2-1 to Stockport Sports and officials are seriously considering whether to drop out of the ‘pyramid’ with crowds and volunteers dropping-a problem that many local clubs, including ourselves suffered from. Let’s hope that the locals get behind a club that has enjoyed great success over the past few seasons and can stabilise in the Premier Division.

Brent Peters’ side then drew 0-0 at Ashton Athletic before earning another point after a fine 1-1 draw at Runcorn Linnets while Barlick beat Colne 1-0 in front of a much healthier 148 at the Silentnight Stadium. Maybe the locals are rallying round as a 90+ crowd attended the next game against Bootle and although the visitors came from two down to win 3-2, the fans were well entertained.

Colne went down 1-0 at Holt House to title contenders Norton United before their derby defeat and then lost 6-1 at home to Runcorn Linnets before a crowd of almost 200. They improved greatly in the next game but still went down, 2-1 at Norton United.

A 90 th minute Berwick penalty gave them all the points with a 3-2 home win against Stockport Sports, their cause helped by their opponents ho ha two players sent off.

Runcorn meanwhile, drew 445 for their next outing at Glossop North End where the game ended 1-1.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson were far from their best at Ashton Town but still came away with the three points after a 2-1 win. It was back to normal for the next game at Victoria Park where they hammered Leek CSOB 7-0 with all the goals coming inside an hour.

The attendance was a mind-boggling 30!

A cracking attendance of 285 saw the promotion battle between Hanley Town and 1874 Northwich which the visitors won 2-1.

Formby are one of five sides vying for the two promotion places and they moved into 2 nd spot, six points behind Nelson with two games in hand, with a 5-1 win at Leek CSOB. Not sure how many fans the West Lancs. side took to Staffordshire but the attendance of 15 suggests-not too many!

That win followed their semi-final 2 nd leg win in the 1 st Division Challenge Cup against Darwen. It took extra-time before the Squirrels won 4-1 and 6-4 on aggregate.

Darwen brushed past struggling Leek CSOB 5-2 at the Anchor before entertaining 1874 Northwich. Thanks to the usual terrific away following, 177 were present as the visitors won 4-1 to keep in contention for a promotion spot.

The Salmoners then entertained Widnes Vikings and won 1-0.

In the 1 st Division Challenge Cup, Hanley Town had to make the ridiculously long mid-week journey to Barrow to face Holker Old Boys and looked to have secured victory when goals in the 74 th and 88 th minutes turned around a one-goal deficit but two injury time strikes won it for the Cumbrians in front of a higher than usual crowd of 89. Nevertheless, it proved to be insufficient as Hanley went through 5-4 on aggregate.

In the League Challenge Cup, Rochdale Town had to play the home tie against Runcorn Town at the visitors ground but they still managed to pull off a shock result by winning 3-1 in front of a surprisingly low crowd of just 30.

Down on the South Coast, Mike Barry saw his Eastbourne Borough favourites beat Chelmsford City 4-2 before they travelled to 2 nd placed Bromley where another win would have seen them move up into 5 th place in the Skrill South but despite the home side’s recent poor run-four defeats in a row-they won 2-1 to keep the Sports just outside of the play-off positions.

In the return fixture a week or so later, they had another chance to move up and Bromley also had the chance to top with a win but the sides had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw.

In the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic enjoyed a 2-0 win at Cadbury Heath before trouncing Radstock 7-0 at home. They then exited the Les Phillips Cup after a 3-2 defeat at Cribbs and then lost again, 2-1 at home to Melksham.

Nick’s other team, Stevenage lie bottom of League One after two narrow defeats, 3-2 at home to Milton Keynes and 1-0 at Northampton against Coventry City.

A reoccurring theme of non-league clubs struggling to survive continues with Bashley and Arundel both struggling, the latter after their ground looked more like a lake then a football pitch over recent months.

Ex-Great Harwood Town winger Dave Eastwood is still enjoying great success with Mill Hill in the Blackburn Sunday League and his team go into the final month top of Division One after an eventful March. They began by playing 3 rd placed New Gardeners in what looked to be a tough game but…………won 17-0!! They then lost their first game of the season, after 11 straight wins, 6-4 against Oswaldtwistle St. Mary’s before beating 2 nd placed Clifton 5-1, ending their opponents 100% league record of 12 wins and changing places with them at the top.

Early March

Matt Derbyshire once again found himself warming the bench for the entire 90 minutes despite Nottingham Forest suffering their second heavy defeat in a row, this time 4-1 at home to Wigan Athletic.

The next game at bottom-of-the-table Barnsley saw yet another loss, 1-0, and Matt finally saw some action. He entered the fray on 70 minutes and had the chance to gain some glory in the final few moments but scuffed his close-range shot which went straight to the Tykes keeper.

Andy Procter also failed to make an appearance from the subs bench as his Bury side went down 2-1 at Cheltenham.

He was then omitted from the squad altogether for the big derby game against Rochdale at Gigg Lane where a massive crowd of 6,295 witnessed a goalless draw. A win for the visitors would have seen them go top of the table.

Also in League Two, Don Fitzgerald’s Wimbledon followed up their great late win at Newport County with an equally impressive goalless draw at out-of-form Fleetwood Town. That point took them 9 points clear of the drop zone.

Sadly for Fitz and his chums, they couldn’t build on those results and lost 1-0 at home to York City in the next game.

In the Skrill Premier League, Paul Clark was in a crowd of just under 2,000 to see his Aldershot favourites go down 3-2 at home to Lincoln City. That result saw them drop to 4 th bottom, one place above Dartford who lost the relegation battle at Southport by three goals to one. The win took the Sandgrounders 4 points clear of trouble but a long way from being safe.

The Shots then travelled to 2 nd bottom Tamworth and once again Paul returned home disappointed after seeing the home side triumph 1-0 and his team slip one place nearer the foot of the table.

Southport dropped to 4 th bottom after a 2-0 defeat at Woking.

At last some good cheer for Hyde and no one would begrudge them some success after a very difficult season. They made it through to the final of the Manchester Premier Cup after a 4-3 win at New Mills.

In Skrill North, Paul Salt could have been forgiven for expecting a comfortable afternoon for his Altrincham side as they hosted basement boys Workington but the Cumbrians more than held their own for the majority of the game before going down 2-0. That proved to be a vital win for the Robins as six of the top seven teams won; the only exception was Hednesford Town who were well beaten, 4-0, at York Street by the mighty Boston United.

Alty then travelled to play-off rivals Brackley and trailed 1-0 at the break, a lead the home side held until 7 minutes from time when two goals in three minutes gave Paul’s side a vital victory. The three points lifted them to 4 th spot whereas a draw would have seen them trail in 8 th.

Spare a thought for Oxford City and any supporters who followed them up to Workington for a midweek game. It seems a bit ridiculous that part-time sides have to travel those distances for an evening fixture and to make things worse for the visitors, they were beaten 1-0 by the strugglers.

The Cumbrians then hosted another side who endured a long trip, Boston United, and I saw the Reds score a late winner against the run of play to give themselves a real chance of avoiding the drop.

Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough dropped to 8 th place in Skrill South after 1-0 at home to mid-table Havant & Waterlooville.

Phil O’Dell was another Great Harwood Town supporter who saw his Evo-stik Premier side given plenty of problems by a bottom-of-the-table side before his FC United favourites triumphed 4-1 against Droylsden in front of 1,974 noisy fans at Gigg Lane.

The visitors took the unwanted record of being the first senior non-league side to be relegated and that happened in midweek while we were still in February.

The reason for the Bloods recent demise, they were a Conference Premier side in 2008, is that Owner/Manager Dave Pace severely cut the playing budget in order to pay off a £100,000 debt to HMRC.

By going into administration, Mr. Pace could have saved huge amounts owed to local tradesmen such as builders who carried out work for him but he made sure those debts were honoured at the expense of HMRC so his responsibilities much be greatly admired.

Droylsden have been a credit to Manchester’s non-league football scene over the years with their exciting brand of football, so fingers crossed that they can regain their place at the top in a few years time.

Also in that division, top-of-the-table Chorley were staring defeat in the face as they trailed 2-0 at Witton Albion with just 8 minutes remaining and were 2-1 down going into the 95 th minute before substitute Zibaka saved the day. The hero wasn’t even in the squad until Stephenson was injured in the warm up. The Magpies had trailed 2-0 at the break but came out in determined fashion in the second half and only a fantastic save from a James Dean volley kept the lead in tact.

Skelmersdale United found ex-Accrington Stanley keeper Jon Kennedy in great form at Causeway Lane and went down 2-1 to Matlock Town. The Gladiators had taken an early lead before the scorer was sent off shortly afterwards but Skem failed to take advantage of their numerical advantage.

In the following midweek games, Chorley hosted FC United and the leagues highest crowd of the season, 2,171 turned up to see two well-matched sides. It looked to be ending goalless especially after ex-Reds keeper Ashton made a great save in the 90 th minute but he was beaten by a Greaves volley three minutes later to hand United the points and give them a realistic chance of winning the league should their recent form continue. James Dean could have made the difference for the home side but he was missing through injury.

Skelmersdale moved to within a point of the Magpies after their 16 th win in 17 home games, 3-1 against Trafford although they have played one more game than Chorley.

The Magpies then hosted 3 rd placed Worksop Town and got back to winning ways with a 1-0 success in front of a terrific crowd of 1,151. James Dean came closest to breaking the deadlock when his first half effort struck the bar and he also came close to scoring twice after the break.

Skelmersdale’s amazing home record was then broken by lowly Grantham Town who won 2-1 in no small way thanks to the heroics, not for the first time recently, of ex-Boston United keeper Dan Haystead who gave another man-of-the-match performance.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United followed up their great win at Chorley with an emphatic 4-1 victory at Stocksbridge Park Steels in front of a hugely partisan crowd of 891, more than eight times higher than their previous home gate. The win was the Reds 6 th in a row and took them up to 5 th place while the Yorkshire side lie 2 nd bottom, 21 points from safety.

Richie Allen has proved to be a great signing for Fylde and Nelson are also managing very well without him. Allen was once again the Coasters saviour as his 86 th minute spot kick won a point at Blyth Spartans after a 1-1 draw.

In Division One North, Ramsbottom United were still just outside of the play-off positions despite another fine win, 3-0 at Prescot Cables but they blotted their copybook by losing 2-0 at home to Cammell Laird.

They were quickly back on the right track with a 5-0 demolition job on Harrogate RA at the Riverside.

Padiham gave high-flying Darlington a run for their money before going down 2-0 at the Arbories and there was more woe for Clitheroe as they lost 3-0 at Northwich Victoria. That made it 6 defeats in 7 for Simon Garner and ryan parr’s team and only two wins from their last 14 games.

It looked like more woe for the Blues as they let a two-goal lead slip at home to Burscough but they re-grouped and won 4-2.

The Storks then drew 2-2 at home to Prescott Cables with ex-Robin Martin Parkes hitting a 72 nd minute leveller. They followed that with a 3-0 win at Wakefield in front of just 43 spectators in West Yorkshire to move eight points clear of the Tykes who occupy the 2 nd relegation spot.

In the NWCFL, Colne went goal-crazy against visiting St. Helens with another goal for the unstoppable Jason Hart, and hat-tricks for Berwick and Coyne, who replaced Hart at the break.

Incredibly, Berwick scored another treble in the next game, at high-flying Runcorn Linnets in front of an impressive 393.

The Reds led 3-1 at the break but looked to taking home just a point as the ex-Giants (they really are ‘Runcorn FC’) hit back, but Berwick’s 3 rd in the 90 th minute sealed a great win.

Bacup had an equally impressive result at 4 th placed Bootle, grinding out a goalless draw while Squires Gate went down 4-0 at home to Runcorn Linnets with the gate being given as an incredible 280.

Brent Peters’ side were then beaten 3-0 at Alsager Town and 2-1 at home to Maine Road, whose win took them to the top of the table.

Barnoldswick Town lost 2-0 at home to Glossop North End.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson have now scored 100 league goals after another 8 against Widnes Vikings at Victoria Park. The visitors actually took the lead in the 6 th minute but when the Admirals equalised on 20, there was only ever going to be one winner. The game will be remembered for the record which appears to have been set, of three brothers scoring in the same game.

Matty O’Neil, with two, Joseph and finally, in the 89 th minute, ex-Great Harwood Town star Ed, finished off the scoring. Peter Wright scored a hat-trick but amazingly, despite the exciting, free-scoring football the Blues have been playing, just 40 spectators were present yet when we played them at the Showground, they regularly brought that number of fans here.

Wright, like Colne’s Berwick, then hit a 2 nd successive treble as Nelson make short work of an away game at Eccleshall, 6-1 the score, but went one better as the unstoppable Admirals travelled to Atherton Collieries to take on Oldham Borough. This time Wright had scored three by half time as his side led 5-0 and eventually won 6-0. Although Nelson now have a lead of 12 points, 2 nd placed Formby do have four games in hand and 1874 Northwich, Atherton Collieries and Hanley, with seven, have also played fewer games.

3 rd placed Colls entertained 4 th placed Northwich in a real six-pointer and the clubs swapped placed after the visitors won 1-0 in front of 236, mainly away fans, at Alder Street

Struggling Leek CSOB have always found it difficult to attract fans with Leek Town being the area’s top side, and they drew just 18 spectators who saw Rochdale Town take the points with a 3-1 win.

Only 15 turned up for the following game but the chosen few witnessed an excellent 3-3 draw with Graham scoring a hat-trick for the home side who were denied the points by a 90 th minute penalty from Cheadle Town’s Pearson.

Darwen defeated lowly Eccleshall 3-2 at the Anchor but it took a 90 th minute penalty from Steele to secure the points.

They then beat Formby by the same score in the 1 st Division Challenge Cup semi-final 1 st leg at the same venue and both those games attracted crowds of 80+.

A Conor Gaul hat-trick then helped the Salmoners to a 4-0 win at Cheadle Town.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic registered a fine 3-0 win at Slimbridge in the Western League.

Very sad news that Eastwood Town, one of our opponents from our NPL days, have quit the Evo-stik Premier League.

They won the Premier Division as recently as 2009, one year after Fleetwood Town but how their fortunes have differed since then.

They continued to enjoy success in the Conference North and in 2011 finished 4 th and also created a new league record by going 19 games unbeaten but they were refused permission to compete in the play-offs.

Since then, plans to upgrade Coronation Park have fallen by the wayside and the team has slumped down two divisions with the final straw coming after the local council sent in bailiffs to padlock the ground and office. That decision came after repeated attempts by them to get Town to pay off an outstanding debt of £45,000 failed. The club had failed to pay rent for three years and the decision wasn’t taken lightly by Broxtowe Borough Council.

Our last fixture against them was on the 20 th of February 1999 when they won 2-0 at the Showground to complete the double after a 3-1 success earlier in the campaign.

Another club who could be folding at the end of the season is Bashley, and that despite them holding the lofty status of Calor Premier League. Along with AFC Totton and Bedford Town-the trio are 19 points from safety-they look certain to be relegated but that appears to be the least of their problems and if no new people come forward to run the club, their 67 year history could soon be at an end.

Skrill North Histon, conquerors of Leeds United in the FA Cup three seasons ago, have their playing budget disappear after all five directors resigned.

In the same division, Vauxhall Motors have handed in their resignation after fighting against the odds to compete at a level way beyond their means. Next season will see them compete in the West Cheshire League in the place of their reserve team so at least the club will survive to fight another day.

Manager Carl Macauley, who’s done an incredible job at the club, has resigned in order to work for Chester.

Another side who were members of the division until last season’s relegation, Corby Town, could be on their way to administration after £90,000 they expected to receive from the local council wasn’t forthcoming-the council had already spent their entire budget elsewhere!

Late February

Nottingham Forest’s hopes of clinching an automatic promotion place suffered a severe setback at Burnley where the home side raced into a three-goal lead by half-time.

The Reds pulled one back in the second half but a play-off spot looks to be more realistic. Matt Derbyshire was once again an unused substitute.

In League One, Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon are still nine points clear of the bottom two despite a 1-0 home defeat against struggling Bury. The game was the first for the Dons in over a month but the defeat was their 4 th in a row and alarm bells are ringing with the Shakers moving to within 2 points of them. The game looked to be heading for a goalless draw until Mayor’s 93 rd minute winner with ex-Harwood star Andy Procter remaining on the bench throughout.

In the next game the stats were reversed when an own goal looked to be giving Newport County the points but the manager’s substitutions proved to be decisive. Sheringham equalised in the 85 th minute and three minutes later the other sub. Sainte-Luce scored the winner.

Bury meanwhile, moved up to 15 th with a convincing 4-1 win at Mansfield Town with Procter once again failing to come on from the bench.

Our old landlords Accrington Stanley lost 1-0 at Portsmouth and dropped to 3 rd bottom but above then just three points cover no fewer than ELEVEN teams.

In the Skrill Premier, Paul Clark made the long trip north to Hyde along with another excellent Aldershot following but was ‘under whelmed’ by the Shots performance. Hyde had failed to register a home win this season but looked on course to break that record until an 85 th minute equaliser made it 2-2. The result left Aldershot in 19 th position, just above Southport who dropped down to 3 rd bottom after a 3-1 defeat at Forest Green Rovers.

Another away game followed, this time at Dartford and things looked gloomy after the keeper was sent off at the end of the first half with the resulting penalty hitting the net in the 52 nd minute of the half. The Shots held on until the 88 th minute when a 30-yard Williams blockbuster salvaged a point.

Southport recorded a vital 2-1 win against Grimsby Town at Haig Avenue.

In the Skrill North, A Walshaw hat-trick secured a 3-1 home win for Paul Salt’s Altrincham against much-improved Colwyn Bay while Boston United effectively finished their game at Harrogate Town with SIX men!

The Pilgrims were down to nine men, thanks to two players being sent off, and also a goal down after a quarter of an hour but held on till the break and were unlucky not to go in level, but after the re-start things got even worse with all three subs. coming on and two injuries leaving them with just seven players on the pitch. The Tykes took advantage to surge into a 4-0 lead before yet another Boston player went down injured and had to leave the field with a hamstring injury. That meant that the game would have to be abandoned but sportingly the Pilgrims manager Dennis Green sent the injured player back on to stand around until the final whistle and therefore ensure the result stands, despite it having a huge detrimental effect on his team’s promotion bid.

In the Skrill South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough moved up the 7 th after holding 3 rd placed Sutton United 1-1 and then defeating bottom side Gosport Borough 2-1.

In the Evo-stik Premier League, Chorley still lead the way despite dropping two points after a 1-1 draw at Grantham Town.

It could have been even worse for the Magpies as their equaliser only came in the 87 th minute, although ex-Boston United keeper Dan Haystead gave a man-of-the match performance for the Gingerbreads.

In the next game they were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at home by Rushall Olympic with the only goal coming in the 86 th minute after Deano was dispossessed out wide.

He came closest to breaking the deadlock for the Magpies when he hit the bar early in the second half.

Nearest rivals Skelmersdale United kept up the pressure with a 4-2 home success against Whitby Town who looked set for an upset, leading 2-1 with just four minutes left to play.

AFC Fylde still can’t be discounted for the title after a great run which continued with a 1-0 home win against Barwell.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United came from a goal down at home to Ilkeston to win 4-1 and although top spot looks highly improbable, a play-off place looks increasingly likely.

The Reds then exited the Doodson Cup, surprisingly beaten 2-1 by mid-table Division One South side Carlton Town despite taking the lead.

Bottom of the table Droylsden have shown signs of improvement lately but looked to be on the way to another huge defeat at home to Marine where the visitors raced into a four-goal lead after only 14 minutes but thankfully for the Bloods and their dwindling group of loyal supporters, that’s the way the score stayed.

Another home game followed, this time against high-flying Kings Lynn Town and despite leading at the break, they were unfortunate to go down 2-1 thanks to an 86 th minute winner for the Linnets.

In Division One North, the big local derby went according to form with promotion-chasing Ramsbottom United thrashing Padiham 4-1 at the Arbories.

They were then held 2-2 at the Riverside by much-improved Ossett Town.

Clitheroe lost 2-0 at Wakefield in front of just 55 spectators while only 35 saw Cammell Laird go down 2-1 at home to Ossett Town.

The Blues then defeated New Mills 3-2 at Shawbridge.

Top-of-the-table Warrington Town look to losing their grip after a 5-1 home defeat against 2 nd placed Curzon Ashton who are now just a point behind with three game in hand. The match was watched by a superb turn-out of 451.

Lancaster City meanwhile, enjoyed a fantastic 2-0 win at promotion-chasing Darlington.

What a game in Division One South at Sheffield. The home side came from behind to lead 4-1 against Bedworth United with 87 minutes on the clock when the visitors hit what looked to be a consolation goal but that strike signalled panic stations in the home side and shortly afterwards a fantastic goal-line clearance prevented Bedworth making it 4-3. A minute later only a great save from the home keeper thwarted them but in the 92 nd minute a cracking free-kick from Piggon brought the deficit back to just one goal. With the final seconds approaching and 94 minutes on the clock, Piggon won and converted a penalty with the last kick of the game to earn a very unlikely point.

In the NWCFL, another Jason Hart goal earned Colne a point in a 1-1 draw at Glossop North End.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson still lead the way but they struggled against 2 nd bottom Eccleshall at Victoria Park, requiring a second half goal from substitute Jonny Hession to give them the points in front of another shocking turn-out of just 30.

That win followed their exit from the 1 st Division Cup quarter-final at Holker Old Boys where 31 spectators saw the home side progress thanks to a goal in the 9 th minute of extra-time.

The Admirals position at the top was strengthened when 2 nd placed Atherton Collieries dropped two points at home to Darwen but the visitors were left reeling as they led 2-0 until the 90 th minute and were then pegged back when a deflected free-kick made it 2-2 with the last kick of the game.

Formby swapped places with Colls after they thrashed Leek CSOB 7-3 at Altcar Road but like Nelson, are struggling to attract a decent turn-out-just 31 saw the ten-goal thriller.

Before Darwen’s afore-mentioned draw, they made it through to the 1 st Division Challenge Cup semi-finals after a convincing 7-2 home win against Leek. The visitors took the lead but their defence is certainly having a torrid time of late and had conceded four by the break.

The Salmoners were then dumped out of the League Challenge Cup, going down 5-0 at Runcorn Town.

Leek meanwhile, hosted the other Old Boys of Holker whose mammoth mid-week trip was rewarded with a 3-1 win in front of just 15 spectators. A double from Swarbrick and one from the evergreen Southward were the Cumbrians heroes.

Just four more fans turned out at Daisy Hill to see Irlam take the points thanks to a 2-0 victory.

Down in the South West, Nick Hancock was delighted to see his Buckland Athletic side gain revenge for their 3-0 FA Cup exit at the hands of Wells City. They triumphed 4-0 in a cup competition although just 43 fans saw it, and they then won their first league game in 15 attempts as they won 2-1 against 6 th placed Cadbury Heath in front of a much better crowd of 93.

Great Harwood Tn have moved back up to 102 nd place in the Non League Paper’s Fantasy League.

Early February

Not too much joy at the beginning of the month for Matt Derbyshire at Nottingham Forest. They opened with a 3-1 home win against Yeovil Town and Matt was omitted from the squad altogether but he did begin the League Cup tie at Preston North End. Sadly he made little impact and was replaced after 51 minutes of Forest’s rather fortunate 2-0 victory.

For the next game at Blackpool, he came on from the bench on 81 minutes with the Reds winning 1-0 but they were pegged back in the closing stages and had to settle for a point.

A 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town and a 3-1 FA Cup exit at Sheffield United saw him fail to appear from the bench on both occasions.

Three second half goals at Leeds Road strengthened the Reds’ grip on a top six place but after leading 1-0 at the break at Bramhall Lane, goals in the 90 th and 92 nd minutes saw the Blades through to the quarter –finals.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon gave high-flying Oxford United a run or their money before going down 2-1, much to the disappointment of their excellent following of 693.

They then gave one of their worst displays of the season, described by their manager as ‘embarrassing’, in going down 3-0 at home to Rochdale.

Yet another defeat followed, this time at relegation threatened Portsmouth who moved to within two points of the Dons with a 1-0 win in front of another superb away following.

Paul Clark hasn’t seen too much of his Aldershot side lately due to the weather and after their 4-1 FA Trophy exit at Havant & Waterlooville, he probably wished he hadn’t seen that one. The Shots must have been quietly confident of progressing to the last four and after a goalless 1 st half things were going to plan before they were blown away after the break.

They then drew 2-2 with Forest Green Rovers at the Recreation Ground, a result which took them up two places and out of the bottom four.

Also in the Skrill Premier, Southport gained a valuable point at 6 th placed Grimsby Town with a 0-0 draw but remained 4 th from bottom. They moved out of the drop zone with a great 3-1 home win over play-off hopefuls Salisbury City.

In between those two results they made it through to the semi-finals of the Liverpool Senior Cup with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win at Skelmersdale United. The Sandgrounders came from behind three times to draw 3-3 with Osawe netting the third in the last minute.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham needed a 93 rd minute equaliser at promotion rivals Hednesford Town and were then held by Telford United at Moss Lane, also 1-1. Those three clubs, along with leaders North Ferriby United and the mighty Pilgrims of Boston United look well placed to finish in the top five.

Chorley went to the top of the Evo-stik Premier table after a 3-1 home win against Stamford with ex-Robin James Dean hitting a double. His first came with a 64 th minute penalty and he then sealed the victory with the 3 rd goal four minutes from time.

A tough trip to Kings Lynn followed but Deano didn’t make the trip after he was apparently taken ill overnight. When he was with Great Harwood Town, he regularly failed to make any ‘longish’ away games but surely he must have really been ill this time.

Even without him the Magpies secured a 2-0 victory to maintain their top spot.

Many players were then rested for the Lancs. Challenge Cup game against Darwen at Leyland but the fringe player still proved too strong for the Salmoners as they triumphed 2-0 in front of a magnificent turn-out of over 600.

Deano then hit the 74 th minute opener against Frickley at Victory Park and late second sealed the points.

His old club AFC Fylde saw their fantastic recent run of eight wins in a row come to an end at Ashton United but Richie Allen rescued a point with his 6 th goal since signing from Nelson, and that keeps them 3 rd in the table.

Fylde will be Chorley’s opponents in the final of the Lancs. Trophy at the Reebok after they overcame Bamber Bridge 2-0.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United are still in with a great chance of the play-offs after a fine 2-0 win at Marine and a 2-1 success against Nantwich Town at Gigg Lane.

Leaders Skelmersdale United went down 2-1 at Ilkeston thanks to a last minute strike but remain 2 nd.

At the other end of the table Droylsden had just two points from their first 32 games but led 2-0 at Barwell with just 8 minutes remaining but it all went pear-shaped. The home side pulled one back and then denied the Bloods a confidence-boosting victory with 93 rd minute equaliser.

In the Evo-stik 1 st Division, Ramsbottom United won the team of the month for January and promptly lost their next game! A trip to Birkenhead to face Cammell Laird didn’t appear to be too daunting but the Rams were beaten 2-1 in front of a paltry 73 spectators. The Merseysiders were also presented with an award for their great disciplinary record and like Ramsbottom, that record was blown out of the water after they had five players booked and another sent off!!

Rammy then got back on track with a 2-0 home success against Ossett Albion and a 3-1 win at Lancaster City, a result which lifted them up into 5 th place.

Also in the 1 st Division, Padiham found themselves 3-0 down at home to leaders Warrington Town but fought back to 3-2 before eventually going down 4-2 and even worse was to follow as ex-Robin Martin Parkes was taken of with an injury.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, very little football took place and unusually, Bacup beat the weather, but only because they were away. They travelled to Glossop North End and were beaten 2-0, a result which keeps them dangerously close to the drop zone.

Barnoldswick Town also managed to take the field and won a point in a 1-1 draw at Abbey Hey.

The only game in the 1 st Division to survive was at Widnes Vikings where leaders Nelson had little difficulty in picking up three points with a 6-0 win.

In the South Division, there was an incredible game at Lincoln United where visitors Loughborough Dynamo won an eleven goal thriller. Both sides were struggling at the wrong and of the table but threw caution to the wind from the outset. Dynamo soon took a two-goal lead but were pegged back to 2-2. They then scored twice to re-establish their lead but the home side stormed back to lead 5-4. A late equaliser looked to have saved a point for Loughborough but they then went on to take all three points with a 94 th minute winner.

The supporters at Merthyr Town were even luckier than the ones at Lincoln as they witnessed a ‘12’ goal extravaganza, and even better for them, all the goals were registered by the home side as the top-of-the-table Welshmen thrashed second-from-bottom Guildford City 12-0.

Another ‘double-figure’ winner was Thurrock who hammered lowly Erith & Belvedere 10-1.

After not having a home game since December 14th, one may have thought the supporters would have turned out in numbers but just 71 witnessed the goal-fest.

Only 60 spectators turned up for Ryman North leaders Soham Town Rangers Cambridge Cup game with Foxton and some of those left before the end and missed the fireworks. The visitors compete in the same league as the home side’s reserve team and most of that side represented Soham in this one.

Foxton led 2-1 at the break leading to three home substitutes being introduced after the interval but it was the minnows who went further ahead and held that two-goal lead until seven minutes from time. They looked like hanging on but in the 95 th minute Soham made it all square and the game went into extra-time. The Ryman side then hit six unanswered goals for an incredible 9-3 win leaving the ‘stay-aways’ and ‘early exiters’ bemoaning their decisions.

In the Fantasy Non-League, Gt Harwood Town dropped from 102 nd to 127 th but have now gone back up to 110 th.

Late January

Not too much football to report on at the end of the month due to the dreadful weather.

Matt Derbyshire faced his beloved Blackburn Rovers at the City Ground and he must have had mixed emotions as Nottingham Forest made short work of the woeful Blues. He was brought on from the bench after Forest’s 3 rd goal in the 73 rd minute sealed the three points and he helped his side to an eventual 4-1 victory.

Next up was PNE in the FA Cup and they put up much more of a fight and secured a tremendous 0-0 draw. Matt was bought on in the 73 rd minute in an effort to break the deadlock but couldn’t manage it despite encouragement from the majority of a fantastic turn-out of 26,500.

Andy Procter was relegated to the bench for Bury’s home game with 2 nd placed Burton Albion and the manager’s decision appeared justified after the Shakers excellent 0-0 draw.

In the same division, Don Fitzgerald will have been delighted to see his AFC Wimbledon side come away from top-of-the-table Scunthorpe United with a point after a goalless draw.

They then came from behind to beat Exeter City 2-1 to move into mid-table.

In the Skrill Premier Southport sunk to third from bottom after a 95 th minute goal saw them go down 1-0 at Barnet.

Meanwhile Paul Clark’s Aldershot were denied three points by a late Lee Gregory goal which salvaged a 2-2 draw for Halifax at the Recreation Ground. He then saw the Shots go down 2-1 at Nuneaton despite a late onslaught in which they came close to scoring three times much to the disappointment of the 100+ visiting supporters.

James Dean’s Chorley finally exited the FA Trophy after losing their replay against Tamworth on penalties.

The Magpies twice came from behind, with the second equaliser coming in the 92 nd minute, to take their Skrill Premier opponents all the way. That goal came about when Deano forced a save from the Lambs keeper Belford but the ball then fell to Teague who fired home.

In the second period of extra time, the ex-Harwood star headed just wide and then saw his great shot well saved as Chorley looked for a deserved winner.

He then tucked away the first spot-kick as did the next three players but the following four kicks were all saved. Three more successful attempts for each side followed but the next one for Chorley was missed and Tamworth sealed the tie with the 16 th penalty to send the majority of the 1,400 crowd home disappointed.

Another huge game at Victory Park just a few days later saw leaders Skelmersdale United arrive in confident mood knowing that their opponents had played 120 minutes on an energy sapping pitch earlier in the week.

Those thoughts were endorsed during the opening 20 minutes as they totally dominated but the game changed when the Magpies scored against the run of play on 26 minutes. Deano scored a 39 th minute header to help his side into a 3-0 half time lead but the visitors fought back after the interval, scoring in the 54 th minute. They then came close to further reduce the arrears but Chorley held firm and on 84 minutes sealed a famous victory with a 4 th goal. The attendance of 1,968 was the highest Evo-stik Premier Division crowd of the season with even FCUM failing to attract a gate of that size.

A tough game at Blyth Spartans followed that win and although they took the lead, courtesy of an own goal, two goals just before half time put them on the back foot and the Northumbrians sealed the points with a 3 rd goal in the second period.

Talking of the Reds, Phil O’Dell’s side won their Doodson Cup 3 rd round game at Ossett Town, coming from behind to win 2-1. They then drew 1-1 at home to Trafford in a more important league game before going down 3-2 at Whitby Town.

AFC Fylde have had a shocking run of late but made it through to the next round of the Doodson Cup thanks to a 4-0 home in against Nantwich Town and then came from behind to win 2-1 at Marine and pick up a desperately needed three points.

In Division One, Clitheroe’s poor run continued with a 3-2 reverse at Harrogate RI although manager Simon Garner stated that he was pleased with the improved performance.

Meanwhile Ramsbottom United are still on a hot streak and they thrashed neighbours Radcliffe Borough 8-0 at the Riverside in front of a tremendous turn out of 344.

The two local sides then met at Shawbridge and the result went according to form with the Rams twice coming from behind to win 4-2.

Padiham continue to struggle and were thrashed 5-1 at Bamber Bridge, a huge turnaround from the reverse fixture at the Arbories when the Storks hit ‘Brig’ for six.

Darlington 1883 came from behind at Ossett Albion to win 3-2 and keep up their promotion push.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Barnoldswick Town went down 3-1 at Runcorn Linnets while Colne lost 3-0 at Maine Road. Barlick then lost again, 4-0 at Norton United, a result which left the Staffs. side just a point adrift of leaders Maine Road with no less than four games in hand.

In the 1 st Division, just one game survived the weather and it saw Formby win 2-0 at Chadderton to move points from the summit with two games in hand.

The remaining side exited the FA Vase as Congleton Town lost 3-1 at Newcastle Benfield.

Surprisingly, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic managed to get a game played but they could only draw 1-1 at home to Hallen.

Gt Harwood Town ended the month in 102 nd place in the NLP fantasy league-come on you Robins!

Early January

Matt Derbyshire ended 2013 on top of the world after his great winner against Leeds United but 2014 began in nightmare fashion. He came on from the bench after 68 minutes of Nottingham Forest’s game at Reading with the Reds leading 1-0 and dominating the game throughout. Within two minutes of his introduction, he was presented with a simple chance but side-footed wide from just a few yards and five minutes later he repeated the feat with the ‘sting in the tail’ almost a formality. It duly came in the 95 th minute when the Royals rescued an unlikely point from a game in which they’d been outplayed.

The following game saw a similar great performance from Forest as they thrashed a hopeless West Ham United 5-0 in the FA Cup. This time Matt had to be content with an 83 rd minute introduction and he took four minutes to pick up a booking for a needless tug on the Hammers keeper.

Andy Procter’s Bury gained a much-needed three points with a 3-0 win at Hartlepool United but were well beaten, 4-0 at Chesterfield in their next outing. Andy was substituted on 72 minutes and the Shakers cause wasn’t helped after Mayor was sent off in 1 st half added time. The defeat leaves Bury just one point above the drop zone.

Harwood supporter Paul Clark was amongst a tremendous following of 148 Aldershot fans at Wrexham and would have been happy with the 1-1 scoreline until an 87 th minute 30-yard screamer from former Stanley ace Jay Harris sent them back to Hampshire in ‘gutted’ mood.

The Shots then entertained Skrill North Guiseley in the FA Trophy and the Yorkshire side were fortunate to lose by just three goals.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon are struggling for any consistency and the new year has seen them continue that trend. A great 3-0 win at Wycombe Wanderers was followed by a 2-0 home defeat against next to bottom Torquay United.

Chorley show no signs of slipping up in their pursuit of Evostik Premier League leaders Skelmersdale United.

They made short work of fading AFC Fylde at Victory Park, winning 3-1 with all the goals coming before the break.

James Dean saw his shot well saved with the score at 1-0 and soon afterwards Fylde equalised. As half time approached, he then missed two good opportunities but on 45 minutes his 18-yard blockbuster flew into the top corner much to the delight of the majority of the 1000+ supporters.

In the second half he looked to have earned his side a spot kick when he appeared to be dragged down but the referee waved away claims for the penalty. He missed another good chance in the closing moments but despite those misses was named man of the match.

Grantham Town were also beaten by the same scoreline, again at Victory Park. The Gingerbreads took the lead but were soon on the back foot and Deano side-footed in the equaliser 15 minutes later. He then set up Hine just past the hour mark to put the Magpies ahead before Whittam sealed the victory.

A much weakened Chorley then lost 4-1 at home to Witton Albion in the Doodson Cup but were back to full strength for the visit to Tamworth in the FA Trophy. Deano had the Magpies first chance but he headed wide and shortly afterwards Teague hit the post for the visitors. Deano then headed just over but in the final moments of the half he missed from just six yards.

In the 2 nd half he made amends when his flick on set up Mather who strode forward to open the scoring. Tamworth were soon level from penalty spot but Deano looked to have scored his side’s second before his goal-bound effort was deflected just wide. Before the end he had another shot blocked but at the death he himself did the blocking at the other end to help secure a replay.

In the same division, Droylsden’s season just goes from bad to worse and their latest thrashing was at the hands of neighbours Ashton United who won 9-0 at the Butcher’s Arms. That made it 116 goals conceded and only two points won from their 29 games.

Phil O’Dell was relieved to see his FC United team score a last minute equaliser at Ilkeston to remain in the play-off positions.

The Reds looked to have lost their crown as the country’s best away following after Darlington 1883 took an estimated 900 fans to Harrogate R.I. The gate of 1,026 smashed the home side’s attendance record and the Darlo fans and home officials all went home happy after a 2-0 win for the North Easterners. The average attendance for the Railwaymen this season was just 94 before the latest game.

That win followed a 6-0 drubbing of Simon Garner’s Clitheroe, also watched by a four-figure gate.

A home game against bottom of the table, and by some distance, Ossett Albion, gave the Blues a great opportunity to get back on track but another woeful performance saw them lose 2-0 in front of a healthy 200+ turn-out.

Also in the Evo-stik Division One, Ramsbottom United added another famous scalp to their growing CV as they beat Northwich Victoria 4-3 away from home. The Blues led 3-1 at the break but Vics fought back to equalise before an 88 th minute winner Denham.

Padiham lost 1-0 at home to Salford City while Kendal Town were involved in another high scoring thriller. They led 3-0 at Wakefield before a 72 nd minute goal gave the Yorkies hope but the score remained the same until two goals in the final four minutes levelled it up.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Colne were involved in a great game at home to Alsager Town. The visitors led 3-2 with three minutes to play and were then awarded a second spot-kick, the first having been saved by keeper Thompson. He repeated the trick, punted the ball ¾ the length of the pitch, where substitute and leading scorer Hart latched onto it and equalised. The 5 th minute of stoppage time then saw the Reds score a 4 th through Crorken to record a highly unlikely victory.

Bacup moved out of the drop zone after a fine 1-0 win at Congleton Town but dropped back in it after their home game was postponed and Squires Gate picked up a point at Alsager. Barnoldswick Town lost 2-0 at Glossop North End.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson needed a last minute winner from top scorer Peter Wright to see off Daisy Hill 4-3 at the New Sirs and then entertained Darwen at Victoria Park. A good attendance of 120 saw the Salmoners taken apart, losing 4-0 with all the goals in the first hour. Jonny Hession in particular enjoyed his outing against his former club, opening the scoring after 22 minutes and adding the third goal just before the break. In between, Ed O’Neil put Grimes through who was then fouled for the penalty which Wright converted.

The win took Nelson 7 points clear of 1874 Northwich at the top of the table.

Down in the Western League, Buckland Athletic earned a fine point in a 1-1 home draw against high-flying Bristol Manor Farm, much to the delight of Nick Hancock.

Paul salt’s Altrincham look certain to make the play-off’s again and have been in the top six since the first day of the season. They began the year in devastating form at Stalybridge Celtic, winning 5-0 with all the goals coming inside an hour. That victory added to the 5-0 drubbing they gave the same opposition on Boxing Day. An 86 th minute Walshaw goal then gave the Robins a 3-2 victory against Leamington at Moss Lane and the next game at lowly Gainsborough Trinity gave them the opportunity to go top of the table.

The form book was turned on its head as Trinity built up a 4-1 lead by the hour mark but a second goal and a sending off gave them a glimmer of hope. When Rodgers made it 4-3 in the 89 th minute, and at least five minutes of added time due, a great comeback looked a distinct possibility but on 95 minutes it was 5-3 before Alty ended the scoring in the 96 th.

Mike Barry hasn’t been able to see his Eastbourne Borough side in action so far this year with all three of their scheduled games falling to weather. After two defeats over Christmas, the Sports were desperate to get back to winning ways as soon as possible and their lack of games has seen them drop to 8 th in the Skrill South, although still just two points from a play-off position.

Our old landlords Accrington Stanley are outside of the drop zone on goal difference only after a 3-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town and a 3-3 draw at home to Newport County. Although the defeat was their only one in the last five games, there have been three draws and the latest one was the hardest to take. Stanley made it 3-2 in the 88 th minute but the Welsh side hit back in injury time.

With bottom two Northampton Town and Torquay United both picking up wins over the last couple of weeks, the lower reaches of the table are getting congested and Bury and Portsmouth are looking over their shoulders.

Late December

The year looked to be ending on a poor note for Matt Derbyshire with only cameo appearances from the subs bench his only hope of glory. Despite Nottingham Forest struggling up front at Birmingham City, he remained on the sidelines throughout of the goalless draw but things changed dramatically in the next game. Leading Leeds United 1-0 at the City ground, Matt was brought on after 68 minutes and despite Forest’s dominant performance continuing, the Whites looked to have salvaged a point with a very lucky equaliser. The huge Leeds following were still celebrating when the ex-Robin picked up a pass just outside of the ‘box’ and unleashed an absolute screamer into the top left hand corner of the net for what proved to be the winner. No doubt it was the best goal he’s scored since his days at the Showground when he hit them like that every couple of weeks.

A couple of leagues below the Championship, Andy Procter’s Bury suffered a 2-1 defeat at Plymouth Argyle, a result which saw them slip to next from bottom of League Two. Andy had the game’s first chance when he shot narrowly wide after 5 minutes and he was substituted in the 66 th minute.

He was back in the starting line-up for the next game against Scunthorpe United at Gigg Lane and things appeared to be going from bad to worse as the Shakers found themselves 2-0 down with just 15 minutes left but the turning point was the sending off of the Iron’s Winnall just a few minutes earlier. He celebrated with the away fans and received a second booking and after Bury reduced the arrears, it was backs against the walls for the visitors. Five and a half of the added ‘FIVE’ minutes had already been played when the Whites rescued an unlikely point.

In the same division, Don Fitzgerald would have been very disappointed to watch his AFC Wimbledon side gain just a single point from their two home games with Southend United and Plymouth Argyle. A 1-0 defeat and a 1-1 draw saw the Dons end the year in disappointing fashion.

Better news for Paul Clark’s Aldershot Town as he saw his favourites crush visitors Tamworth 6-0 at the Recreation Ground thanks to a four goal 15 minute second half salvo and move out of the relegation places.

Paul then travelled up to Forest Green Rovers but along with the other supporters in an excellent away following of 183, travelled home dejected after two late goals sealed a 3-1 win for the Gloucestershire side.

A home clash with Welling followed that and the signs didn’t look too promising as the visitors took a second half lead but the Shots stormed back to win 3-1in front of 2,000+ and move up to 19 th.

Southport travelled to Salisbury City more in hope than expectation as the Whites boasted one of the Skrill Premier League’s best home records-8 wins from 11 games- and the Sandgrounders one of the worst away records with 9 defeats from 11 but the form book went out of the window as the game ended 1-1.

A trip to high-flying Alfreton Town followed that and despite another valiant effort, ‘port went down 2-1 which left them just a single point above the drop zone.

Paul Salt is enjoying watching his Altrincham side make yet another great effort to join the country’s non-league elite and they earned draws at high-flying Guiseley, 2-2 and lowly Barrow, 1-1. In between those they thrashed near neighbours Stalybridge Celtic 5-0 at Moss Lane and ended the year in the play-off positions.

One of Alty’s near neighbours, Droylsden, have until recently been right up their with the Robins but after relegation last season, they’re well on their way to dropping into the Evo-stik League and their 5-0 home defeat to Rushall Olympic meant that after 25 games, they’d failed to win and conceded 98 goals.

Evo-stik Premier Division Chorley are enjoying a great season and not just in the league. They produced a cracking performance to hold Forest Green Rovers at Victory Park but then went one batter in the replay.

James Dean had two early chances, the second of which brought out a great save from the home keeper and he fired fractionally over the bar just before the break. In the second half he set up Roscoe who missed a sitter and the game eventually went to penalties. The Magpies looked to on their way out when they missed the first spot kick but Rovers also missed before Deano scored his. Another home miss followed and when Chorley scored again to make it 2-0 they never looked back and recorded a 3-1 penalty shoot-out win.

Buxton then held them to a goalless draw at Victory Park and they then had to come from two down at Stocksbridge PS to gain a draw.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United are right behind them after 2-0 wins at home to Barwell and away at Buxton.

The club that Deano left, AFC Fylde finished the year poorly and lost again, at home to Ilkeston despite leading 1-0 with only 10 minutes remaining.

In 1 st Division North, Ramsbottom United slipped up at local rivals Bamber Bridge, 2-1, but were soon back on track with a 5-2 win against Salford City at the Riverside before a tremendous turn-out of 341.

Padiham would have been very disappointed to have been held 0-0 by bottom side Ossett Albion-15 defeats in 20 games-at the Arbories but then won 3-2 at Clitheroe before 380 fans. They failed to build on that success and lost 3-1 at Prescott Cables in their last outing of 2013. Great Harwood Town legend Bobby Harris has signed for the Storks from AFC Blackpool.

That defeat for Clitheroe followed a 1-0 reverse at Cammell Laird in front of barely 40 supporters on the Wirrall but they did defeat Warrington 1-0 at Shawbridge in front of another 300+ gate.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on events at Clitheroe as their management team now consists of no less than three ex-Harwood stars. on Garner, Jason Jones , and ex-captain Ryan Parr .

In the same division, a massive crowd of 1,514 saw 1883 Darlington score twice in the closing 6 minutes to secure a 2-2 draw with Salford City.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Bacup came from 3-1 down at Squires Gate to draw 3-3 but were then embarrassed by 1 st Division Atherton Collieries who won 6-0 in the League Challenge Cup.

Colne were soundly beaten 3-0 at home to leaders Runcorn Town who then entertained Runcorn Linnets-2 nd-before a staggering attendance of 803. The ex-Conference side took the honours with a 1-0 win.

Barnoldswick Town looked to be on their way to a thrashing at West Didsbury and Chorlton after finding themselves 2-0 down after only 9 minutes but they rallied before finally going down 3-2.

They then got back to winning ways in their West Yorkshire derby game at home to Silsden, 2-1 the score.

In the 1 st Division, the leading teams are all capable of beating each other so predicting the two promotion places is impossible.

1874 Northwich trailed Hanley Town 2-0 as half time approached but a quick double saw them reach the break all square and the home side completed the comeback with two unanswered goals in the second half.

Another two promotion hopefuls met at Victoria Park and despite a 4-0 drubbing by Formby, Nelson remained top. A pitiful crowd of just 35 saw the Squirrels score all of their goals in the opening 55 minutes.

They then hit another four at home to Irlam in front of a dreadful turn out of only 31.

Nelson, meanwhile, made the long trip to Holker Old Boys with Ed O’Neil making a surprisingly quick come-back from his recent facial injury. The ex-Robin proved to be the difference between the sides as he capped a man-of-the-match performance with the winning goal two minutes from time to give the Admirals a 2-1 victory.

Down in the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic finished the year with a five game winless run, the latest defeats being 2-1 at Willand Rovers and 3-1 at home to Street.

In the Non League Paper’s Fantasy League, Gt Harwood Town are right up there in 137 th position, 856 points away from the top of the league and just 66 short of the top 100.

Early December

Matt Derbyshire has finally registered some playing time at Nottingham Forest, coming on from the bench to replace Jamie Mackie at Millwall. The Reds twice came from behind to claim a point and Matt entered the Lions Den with 14 minutes remaining and looked to have earned his side a spot-kick when he appeared to have been brought down but the referee waved away Forest’s appeals.

He then came on with 11 minutes left of the game at Sheffield Wednesday, replacing Simon Cox and helped his side hold on to a 1-0 lead.

The following game saw him make yet another cameo but this time with only four minutes remaining and not surprisingly, he couldn’t conjure up a winner in that short space of time as the Reds were held to a goalless draw at the City Ground by Ipswich Town.

David Flitcroft has taken over at Bury and that might not be such good news for ex-Robin Andy Procter. He had to settle for a place on the bench as the Shakers took on bottom side Northampton Town at Gigg Lane and although he came on after 77 minutes because of an injury to Sedgwick, his team had to settle for a point after a disappointing 1-1 draw which leaves them 6 th from bottom but only two points clear of basement side Torquay United.

That game followed Bury’s FA Cup replay at Cambridge United where the home side took the lead on the hour mark only for Andy to cross for Harrad to equalise a minute later. Unfortunately for Andy and his team-mates, the non-leaguers went on to win 2-1.

Don Fitzgerald was hoping to see his AFC Wimbledon side take maximum points off struggling Mansfield Town but the Dons could only manage a 0-0 draw.

Better news for Paul Clark as his Aldershot favourites claimed two FA Trophy wins. A tricky replay at Weston-super-Mare saw the Shots build up a 3-0 lead after an hour and although Weston hit back to make it 3-2 with 15 minutes left, two late strikes made it 5-2. They then came from behind at the ‘Rec’ to beat Worcester City 4-1.

The month has produced a mixed bag for James Dean and Chorley. They cruised past bottom side Droylsden at the Butchers Arms, 5-0, with Deano scoring the 3 rd, a powerful shot into the roof of the net, on 78 minutes and the final goal, turning in a cross, on 90.

The Magpies then lost their long winning run when they were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Barwell, before holding big-spending Skrill Premier Forest Green Rovers 0-0 at Victory Park.

They also made it through to the semi-finals of the LFA Trophy after defeating Ramsbottom United with a team of mainly fringe first-teamers.

One of Harwood’s best supporters was Phil O’Dell and after our demise, he began following FC United and they looked to in top gear with some fine recent results. They went through to the next round of the Doodson Cup after beating fellow Mancunians Ashton United at Bower Fold, Stalybridge, before they were involved in a real thriller at Gigg Lane against Worksop Town. Trailing 2-0 at half time, they stormed back to lead 4-3 with only 10 minutes remaining but the Tigers equalised to take a point.

A tough trip to AFC Fylde followed and the Reds moved up to 5 th place, 3 points behind Fylde, after a superb 2-0 win. Quite a surprisingly low turn-out at Kellamergh Park, just 709.

In the Evo-stik 1 st Division North, Padiham registered two fine wins to move away from the danger zone. They looked to be cruising at home to Northwich Victoria, leading 2-0, but Vics hit back to equalise before an 87 th minute winner for the Storks.

A trip to Mossley made it 6 points for the month after a 1-0 success.

Still with Mossley, they took on Padiham days after a real thriller at Kendal Town. They found themselves 4-1 behind after 50 minutes but fought back to 4-4 by the 82 nd minute but a late flurry of goals saw the home side triumph 6-5 in front of only 119 spectators.

Ramsbottom United continue to impress at this level gaining a fine point in a 2-2 draw at Curzon Ashton although it maybe should have been three as they led 2-0. They then welcomed Wakefield to the Riverside and won 3-1 before exiting the LFA Trophy at Chorley.

Clitheroe twice led at home to Salford City but had to be content with a point after a 2-2 draw.

In the other LFA Trophy games, Nelson were trailing after only a minute at Fylde but went in at the break all square at 2-2 before the home side nicked it 3-2.

Bacup Borough looked to be well on their way to victory, leading 2-0 at Bamber Bridge with less than 20 minutes left but ‘Brig’ then turned on the class to win 4-2.

No doubt about the performance of the round, Darwen’s 3-2 success at Kendal Town where they led 3-0 at the break before being put under some late pressure.

In the NWFCL Premier Division, two wins for Colne has seen them rise to 8 th. A fine 1-0 success at St. Helens was followed by an emphatic 4-0 thrashing of Squires Gate at Holt House.

Bacup lost 4-1 at Blackpool but won their next game 2-1 at Winsford United, and then lost 1-0 at home to Bootle to leave themselves at the wrong end of the table.

Barnoldswick Town went down 3-0 at Ashton Athletic.

The pre-Christmas period and cold blustery weather certainly had an effect on the attendances with six Premier Division crowds of less than 70 and all eight 1 st Division crowds below 61.

1 st Division Nelson can feel more aggrieved than most after a season of free scoring although thanks to a fine away following from 1874 Northwich, they drew 170 for the top-of-the-table clash at Victoria Park. As is the ‘norm’ these days, the Admirals came out with all guns blazing and shot the visitors to pieces, leading 3-0 after only 9 minutes. Northwich pulled one back six minutes later and surprisingly, that’s how the score finished.

Lowly Daisy Hill were next up but with several first-teamers sidelined, Nelson could have been in for a difficult afternoon-or maybe not!!

Like the Northwich game, the result was just about settled in the first few minutes, four to be precise as Nelson led 2-0 by that stage. It was 4-0 at the break and another four unanswered goals followed in the second period, with the three points taking them back to the top.

Darwen beat Irlam 2-1 at the Anchor before coming from two down at Widnes Vikings to claim a point.

Further afield, Mike Barry is delighted to see his Eastbourne Borough side up in the Skrill South play-off positions after a 1-1 draw at Concord Rangers and a 2-0 home win against Weston-super-Mare.

Paul Salt saw his Altrincham favourites blown away at Harrogate Town who led 3-0 just after the 20 minute mark. They then fought back to make it 3-2 with 20 minutes to find the equaliser but the Tykes held on.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic have slipped up a little recently and they could only draw at mid-table Bitton and were then beaten 2-0 at bottom side Hengrove Athletic.

Late November

Matt Derbyshire was desperate to put one over the old enemy at the City Ground but was once again an unused substitute as Nottingham Forest could only draw 1-1 with Burnley.

In the next game he was introduced 10 minutes from time as the Reds trailed 3-2 to Reading at the City ground but couldn’t help his side prevent a surprise defeat.

Andy Procter’s Bury could only draw 0-0 at home to non-league Cambridge United in the FA Cup and will now need a much improved performance if they’re to take on Sheffield United in the 2 nd round.

They then took on Exeter City at St. James Park but despite twice taking the lead, had to settle for a point after a 2-2 draw.

In League One, Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon produced one of their best performances of the campaign to thrash fallen giants Portsmouth 4-0.

They then drew 1-1 at Bury and 1-1 at home Dagenham before almost 600 fans made the trip to lowly Bristol Rovers expecting a victory. Unfortunately they returned home dejected as the Dons were well beaten 3-0.

Spare a thought for Great Harwood Town and Aldershot fan Paul Clark. He took in the midweek trip to league leaders Cambridge United only to see his heroes go down to a 4-0 defeat and he then made the long trip north, along with 139 other Shots supporters, to Halifax Town where they were on the wrong end of another 4-0 thrashing. That left them second from bottom of the Skrill Premier after a six-match win-less run.

Paul then saw his side host Southport where incredibly they found themselves 4-0 up after only 24 minutes before going on to record a 5-1 victory. Braintree were the next opponents at the Rec. and the Shots came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a last minute winner from Patterson.

FA Trophy action saw them once again at home but despite playing a lower tier side in Weston-Super-Mare, they needed a 93 rd minute O’Brien equaliser to force a replay.

In the FA Trophy, Chorley made it through, just about, thanks to two late strikes against Matlock Town at Victory Park and a James Dean header on 45 minutes proved to be the difference as they then defeated Ilkeston 2-1 at home before a tremendous 1000+ crowd.

Deano was then rested for the Lancashire Cup game at home to Atherton Collieries.

A 2-1 league victory at home to Ilkeston followed with the ex-Robin at the heart of most of the Magpies attacks. His cross set up the game’s first chance for Whitham whose header struck the post. Deano then set up the opener when his header put Stephenson through and his lob gave the keeper no chance, much to the delight of another four-figure turn out.

Chorley then made it 12 wins in a row as they won another FA Trophy game at home. Deano side-footed them into the lead and set them on the way to a 2-1 victory although it certainly wasn’t plain sailing as on 30 minutes Ross gave away a penalty and was sent off. The spot kick was hit wide and the score remained the same until minutes from the end of the game. Firstly Deano fired an easy chance over the bar and in the 87 th minute, Walker, who missed Curzon’s penalty kick, equalised with a superb curling shot only for Hine to win it for the hosts in the last minute.

A Moore hat-trick for Worcester City put paid to Ramsbottom United’s chances of progressing although it shows how far they’ve come since their battles with the Robins a few years ago. They took on City at their temporary home of Kidderminster Harriers Aggborough Ground, a far cry from the Oldham and Castleton venues of old, and more than held their own before two second half mistakes helped Moore to his treble and gave the scoreline an unfair look.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham were on their way to the next round, leading 2-0 at Colwyn Bay with only 7 minutes remaining but the referee was then injured and the game was abandoned. Despite Alty’s protests, a replay was ordered and three days later they repeated the 2-0 victory with Walshaw and Wilkinson both on target once again.

The following round gave them a great opportunity to progress as they hosted Leek Town but the form book was turned on its head as the Staffs. side won 2-1.

In between those games they recorded a 1-0 home win against Solihull Moors.

Staying with the Trophy, I travelled to Haig Avenue to see Southport well beaten 2-1 by the Mighty Pilgrims of Boston United.

In the FA Vase, seven clubs from the NWCFL took part but only Congleton Town, 4-1 winners at Borrowash Town, made it through. Winsford United hosted Vase holders Spennymoor Town and did wonderfully well to hold them to a goalless draw in front of a huge, albeit mostly Town fans, 271 at the Barton Stadium.

Not surprisingly it was mainly a backs-to-the-wall effort for the Cheshire side as was the case in the replay but unfortunately they were outclassed and were five down at the break before eventually going down 7-0 in front of another massive crowd, 435.

Down in the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic must have been confident of progressing as they hosted Saltash United from a lower level, but the visitors breezed to a 3-0 win and things got no better for the Bucks as they lost 1-0 at Bristol Manor Farm as they returned to league action.

A home game against bottom side Bishop Sutton gave them the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways but they could only draw 0-0.

Staying with cup competitions, some cracking results for our local sides in the Lancs. Challenge Cup.

Pride of place goes to 1 st Division Nelson who travelled to in-form Lancaster City and made a mockery of their respective league positions by winning 3-1 with Jonny Hession getting them on their way with the opener after only 5 minutes.

Close behind the Admirals were Darwen who held Burscough to a goalless draw at the Anchor before going through 5-4 on penalties.

Chorley found the going difficult against Atherton Collieries before edging the tie 3-2 and Bacup also went through thanks to a 2-0 win at Wigan Robin Park.

Ramsbottom United put the FA Trophy disappointment behind then by thrashing local rivals Padiham 4-1 at the Riverside.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, FC United need more displays like the one that destroyed Frickley 3-0 at Gigg Lane if they’re to move up into the play-off positions, all the goals coming in the second half and they recorded a similar win at home to Blyth Spartans.

Skelmersdale United show no signs of slipping up in the quest to gain yet another promotion. They made light work of struggling Droylsden, winning 7-3 to stay top.

In Division One, Padiham hosted Mossley before their derby game at Rammy and despite twice taking the lead, they lost 3-2 to Mossley before a very healthy turn-out of 237. Another home fixture saw them take on New Mills but once again they ended pointless after a 2-1 defeat.

A trip to Cammell Laird brought another defeat, 2-0 in front a paltry turn-out of 39 and that left the Blues pointless in November.

Not a good week for Burscough as they also lost and home before their Lancs. Cup game. They looked like running away with game against Clitheroe, leading 2-0 after only 15 minutes, a lead they held till 16 minutes from time when Clitheroe stormed back with three unanswered goals. They kept up that form in the next game when they hammered Radcliffe Borough 4-0 at Shawbridge and then gained a point after a 2-2 draw at Prescot Cables.

Meanwhile in-form Ramsbottom hosted out-of-form Burscough and the result went with the formbook, 7-1 to the Rams who then won again, 3-2 at Kendal Town, where the home side had two players sent off.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Steve Pickup’s Colne went down 1-0 at Ashton Athletic and by the same score at Stockport Sports but in between won 2-1 against Congleton Town to remain 7 th.

Bacup lost 3-1 at home to Runcorn Linnets although it was nice to see a rare three-figure attendance at West View and they were then beaten 4-0 at Norton United where the locals appear to be disinterested in their sides great progress recently with just 27 turning up to see another fine win. They stopped the rot at home, holding Abbey Hey to a goalless draw although the result saw them drop to 2 nd bottom.

Better news for Barnoldswick Town as they recorded a fine 2-1 home win against AFC Liverpool, with, needless to say, Ronnie Morgan scoring the visitors reply. A tough trip to Bootle followed and Barlick were soundly beaten 4-0.

Hosting Wigan Park, they twice came from behind to claim a point.

Talking of the afore-mentioned Ronnie Morgan, he gave his side the lead at Glossop North End only to see the Derbyshire outfit fight back to claim the three points.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson returned to the summit after a 5-1 win against Ashton Town at Victoria Park with Harwood favourite Ed O’Neil finishing off the scoring in the 89 th minute. Another six goals followed in the 1 st Division Challenge Cup as Bootle were sent packing but the attendance of only 35 must have been a great disappointment to the Blues hierarchy. Ed was injured during the game and had to leave the field after suffering what appears to be a broken cheekbone.

Despite going down to ten men at Cheadle Town, Nelson won again, 3-2 in an exciting game. Their keeper was sent off late in the first half with the incident also giving the home side a penalty. Surprisingly for this level, they had a substitute goalie on the bench and he saved the spot kick to preserve a 2-1 lead.

Darwen also won, 3-1 at Atherton L.R. in the league and then came from two down at home to Cheadle Town in the cup to win 3-2 before winning 1-0 at Ashton Town.

Early November

Top billing this month goes to Woodford United who, after a 65 match losing run which lasted 18 months, have finally tasted victory, a 2-1 success at 2 nd bottom Blackstones to delight their 25 year-old manager Mitch Austin.

Matt Derbyshire was an unused substitute for Nottingham Forest despite the Reds drawing a blank against Blackpool at the City Ground, the Seasiders winning 1-0.

Over 30,000 witnessed the next game, an East Midlands derby at Leicester City and once again Matt warmed the bench for a couple of hours as Forest won 2-0.

No joy for Andy Procter either as his Bury side slipped to a very disappointing defeat at home to Torquay who were one of just a few clubs below the Shakers in League Two. Andy set up the game’s first chance early on but in atrocious conditions, the visitors won 3-1 and swapped places with Bury who slipped to 3 rd bottom.

In nearby Rochdale, Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon were in town and the game looked to be a home ‘banker’ with the Blues to go top with a win. They took a one goal lead into the break but the Dons hit back twice to claim a superb victory.

The FA Cup gave them a home tie with Coventry City and things looked good when the Dons took a 2 nd half lead but the Sky Blues stormed back to win 3-1.

Southport went out of the competition, losing 5-2 at red-hot Leyton Orient.

Our old adversaries Fleetwood Town ended the day in top spot after a comfortable 4-1 win against newly promoted Newport County at Highbury and they progressed in the FA Cup thanks to a 2-0 win at Cheltenham against Gloucester City.

In the Skrill Premier, Paul Clark’s Aldershot Town went into their game at struggling Chester on the back of the FA Cup 4 th qualifying round’s biggest shock. It was quite a surprise that they failed to beat Shortwood United in the first game but in the replay at the Recreation Ground the minnows went one better by overturning a 1-0 half time deficit to win 2-1 in a thoroughly deserved triumph.

It was unanimously agreed that they were the better side and were applauded from the field by many home supporters as well as almost 100 of their own fans.

The following game at Chester looked like bringing more disappointment but the Shots returned home with a valuable point after a last minute equaliser.

A daunting trip to top of the table Cambridge United came next and things were going well until the 3 rd minute of 1 st half stoppage time when the U’s took the lead. That goal was followed by three more unanswered strikes after the break to leave the Shots still struggling near the bottom.

That victory for Cambridge followed their first defeat of the season, 1-0 at Southport.

One league below, Paul Salt’s Altrincham topped the table and entertained 2 nd placed Hednesford and after Town’s 3-1 victory the sides changed places.

Another tough assignment came next in the shape of a trip to Bradford Park Avenue but Alty got back on track with a 4-2 victory.

In the Skrill South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough moved up to 8 th with a 2-0 home win against Maidenhead United.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, the goal-rush continues unabated at Stocksbridge Park Steels as they beat Grantham Town 4-3 at home.

Chorley made it through to the next round of the FA Trophy thanks to a 2-1 win at Soham Town Rangers with Deano receiving an earful of praise for his performance from manager Garry Flitcroft.

The Magpies then won 3-1 at home to Matlock Town with James Dean making the first goal for Cottrel after a fine run and cross and then scored the second himself after the keeper could only parry Stephenson’s shot.

They then made it five league wins in a row thanks to another 3-1 success, this time at Stafford Rangers, a win which took them back to the top and Deano once again scored the second, a neat side foot.

A Doodson Cup game at Kendal Town proved to be no problem despite the hosts taking an early lead as for the third game running, the Magpies won 3-1.

In the 1 st Division, Clitheroe defeated Prescott Cables 3-1 at Shawbridge while Padiham lost 2-1 against Farsley at the Arbories.

The Blues then drew 1-1 at Lancaster City thanks to a Scott Bakkor penalty and he hit two more spots kicks in a hat-trick as they won 3-2 against Ossett Town at home to move into the top half of the table. The game wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggests with Town hitting both their goals in added time.

The then exited the Doodson Cup after a 3-0 loss at Radcliffe Borough but the signs have been encouraging since ex-Harwood star Simon Garner took over a few weeks ago.

The outgoing boss Paul Moore, can count himself rather unlucky to be shown the door after Clitheroe’s highest ever position of 8 th last season.

Another ex-Robin, Jason Jones , has gone to Shawbridge as a coach but not only found himself in the first team for the game at Lancaster, he was also man of the match.

In the FA Trophy, the result, and shock of the round, was Ramsbottom United’s 1-0 success at Blyth Spartans. AFC Fylde also made it through after a 1-0 win at Rushall Olympic.

Rammy then gained another great win, 1-0 at Darlington before drawing 1-1 at home to New Mills and then hosting FC United in the Doodson Cup and despite it being a minor competition, more than 450 fans saw the Reds come from behind to win 2-1.

Fylde meanwhile, drew 1-1 at Matlock Town before making it through to the 2 nd round of the Doodson Cup with a 2-0 win at Mossley.

An amazing result in the league with Lancaster City winning 9-4 at Wakefield! The Dollyblues had stormed into 5-2 lead by the break and after an hour it was 7-3.

Meanwhile down south, North Greenford travelled to Hemel Hemstead and took the lead within three minutes but from there on the afternoon went pear-shaped-in a big way! The home side proceeded to knock in nine unanswered goals, seven in the second half, to record the round’s biggest score.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Barnoldswick Town won 3-1 at home to Abbey Hey but Steve Pickup’s chances of getting the manager’s job at Colne weren’t helped as the Reds were thrashed 4-0 at home by West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Barlick then had a great 5-3 win at Winsford United with Keiran Lee notching a hat-trick and ex-Harwood centre back Keiran Fletcher was on target in the West Riding Cup game at home to minnows Albion Sports who won 2-1 thanks to a late penalty.

Bacup lost 4-0 at AFC Liverpool in front of only 87 fans and then went down 4-1 at Wigan Robin Park.

In the 1 st Division, there was a great result for Rochdale Town as they came from 3-2 down at home to 1874 Northwich, to win 4-3 in front of a huge crowd of 140. Dale were 2 nd bottom before the game while Northwich would have gone top had they won.

The attendance for their next game, at Northwich Flixton Villa was rather less, just 20, but that handful of spectators saw another great game with Town coming back from 3-2 down to win 4-3 thanks to two goals in the final 12 minutes.

They carried on that good form with another home win, 6-2 against local rivals Chadderton.

In the 1 st Division Cup, Nelson strolled to a 3-0 win at Daisy Hill and then moved back into 2 nd place in with a 2-0 league win at Irlam.

Buckland Athletic took an early 2 nd half lead against Brislington at Homers Heath but much to Nick Hancock’s disappointment, the visitors hit back to claim a point in their Western League game.

Next up was a bonfire night trip to Gillingham Town but unfortunately all the fireworks were going off in the Buckland penalty box as the hosts won 4-0 in front of a meagre attendance of 51.

Late October

The only place to start in this section must be at Colne where manager of ten years, Nigel Coates has stepped down. He’s been magnificent for the club and the Reds were always one step in front of the Robins as we both fought for promotion and cup success-they were Champions of Division Two in our final year and we finished 4 th.

The type of football which they played during the last couple of years of our existence was a joy to watch and Colne were lucky to have him in charge for so long. Ex-Harwood favourite Steve Pickup has taken temporary charge of the first team along with Dixon Lambert so good luck to them-it’s a hard act to follow.

In League Two, Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon came from behind to earn a good point at Morecambe while Andy Procter’s Bury also made a long journey but sadly came back without reward.

The Shakers were on top for much of the game with Andy and his midfield partners taking control of the middle of the park. A great following of 500 in a crowd of 15,500, saw Pompey secure the points thanks to an early goal.

In the Skrill Premier, a 90 th minute penalty secured a point for Southport and stopped their long losing run on the road.

Next up was the FA Cup and a home tie with Northern League side Marske gave them a great chance of making it to the 1 st round proper and that’s just what they did courtesy of a 6-2 win.

The visitors have enjoyed a tremendous season so far and backed by a an amazing following of almost 300, must have fancied their chances of running the Sandgrounders close but the game was over as a contest after only 12 minutes with Southport leading 4-0. Marske then settled down and held their own and scored the goal of the game towards the end.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot must have been confident of moving back out of the relegation places as they hosted Alfreton Town. The Notts. Side had lost 6 of their 7 games on the road this season but provided an upset by winning 3-2.

In the FA Cup, they travelled to one of the lowest ranked teams still in the competition, Shortwood United of the Calor League, where the home side, from the 8 th tier, salvaged a draw with a last minute equaliser.

In Skrill North, 5 th placed Altrincham took on 3 rd Brackley and much to the watching Paul Salt’s delight, Alty moved to level top spot after a single goal victory.

They then travelled to the mighty Boston United in confident mood knowing that the Pilgrims hadn’t beaten the Robins since 1999 but that record was broken as United ran out deserved 3-2 winners. A single point would have taken Alty clear at the top.

In Skrill South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough would have moved into a play-off berth had they won at Chelmsford but they went down 3-0.

There was some joy for the town though as Eastbourne United won a nine goal thriller against Phoenix Sports in the FA Vase, 5-4 the final score.

Staying with the Vase, Nelson drew a rare blank at Jarrow Roofing Bolden Community Association, losing 2-0. The game was in much doubt until a few hours before kick-off, causing the Admirals to cancel their hotel and the supporters coach on the Friday only to discover that the pitch was in good condition on the Saturday afternoon.

Old foes of ours Crook Town fought out a 2-2 draw at North Shields while Guisborough Town lost 1-0 at Billingham Synthonia.

Another nine goal extravaganza took place at Bootle where visitors Parkgate triumphed 5-4.

That total was beaten at Binfield who thrashed Warminster Town 9-1, helped by the visiting keeper dislocating his finger trying to prevent the opening goal, and having to be replaced by a striker.

Nick Hancock saw his Buckland Athletic side cruise through to the next round with a convincing 4-0 home win against Bristol Manor Farm.

Last season we were following the progress, or rather lack of it, of Woodford United and although they dropped down a couple of leagues, the results haven’t improved. They exited the Vase after a 6-0 home defeat to ‘reborn’ AFC Rushden. Their home record this season reads, 0-6, 0-4, 1-3, 0-7, 2-8, 1-4 and 0-6. Away from home reads little better, 0-3, 0-3, 1-3, 0-4, 1-4 and 1-4.

Let’s hope that they don’t follow last season’s total of zero points.

In the FA Trophy, Ramsbottom produced what must have been the performance of the round, beating their higher placed opponents Worksop Town 7-2 and had effectively put the game to bed after only 7 minutes when they led 3-0.

Not far behind them were Margate who won an extraordinary game 9-4 at Wroxham.

Chorley won 1-0 at Whitby Town while AFC Fylde were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by visitors from a lower league, Kendal Town although the Coasters won the replay 2-1.

Skelmersdale United were turfed out of the FA Cup last month, 5-0 at West Auckland Town and another trip to the North East resulted in another thrashing and another cup exit. Their Trophy hopes were dashed in spectacular style as they lost 6-0 at Blyth Spartans and their cause wasn’t helped by having two players sent off.

West Auckland continued their great cup form with another big win, 5-0 at home to South Shields. They had in fact been knocked out of the FA Cup earlier in the month despite a fantastic effort against Skrill North side Hednesford Town. They drew in the Midlands before losing the replay 4-2 on penalties after an exciting game which finished 2-2. They twice took the lead and despite playing against nine men for an hour, two Hednesford players were went off, they couldn’t find the elusive winner against a side three divisions above them.

Another side from the region also exited on penalties after a second draw and once again it was a cracking game. Darlington hosted Buxton and were cruising at 3-0 after only 27 minutes but the crowd of 766 left the ground a couple of hours later in shock as the Bucks scored three times in the final 25 minutes, get through extra-time and win 4-3 on penalties.

Another club which has risen from the ashes of the old one, Scarborough Athletic, took a huge following to Stocksbridge P.S., swelling the gate to 239 and the majority went home happy after their side came from behind three times and won it in the 89 th minute.

Stocksbridge fans can’t complain about the entertainment on show in South Yorkshire although the results could be better and they lost again in yet another great game three days later.

They trailed 3-1to Worksop Town with less than 10 minutes to go but hit a quick-fire double to level before another goal-frenzy saw the game end 5-4 for the Tigers.

In the Evo-stik Premier, FC United hosted ‘defensively challenged’ Stocksbridge and the visitors defence didn’t disappoint, letting in another six goals with the Reds running out 6-2 winners.

Chorley kept up the pressure towards the top of the table with a comprehensive 4-1 win at Worksop Town and then did even better at Trafford, winning 5-0 with James Dean opening the scoring after 20 minutes, a cracking 25-yard screamer into the bottom corner of the net. Only a great save prevented him from scoring a second just before half-time and after the break his great volley went narrowly wide with the score at 3-0.

Meanwhile, AFC Fylde went goal-crazy, winning 10, yes TEN, nil at Droylsden with midfielder Bradley Barnes netting 5 of the first 7. The Mancunians have been one of the best teams in the North West in recent seasons but they already looked doomed to relegation lying 15 points from safety with barely a third of the season completed. A different story for the Whites who notched a record victory and the first time that one player has hit five in a game.

The opening goal came after 24 seconds but the floodgates didn’t open then and it took until first half stoppage time for the second to arrive by which time Droylsden had had a man sent off.

The second half saw Fylde score an early goal and from then on it was the proverbial procession.

In Division One, Padiham continue to ship in goals at an alarming rate with Harrogate Railway Institute beating them 4-1.

Ramsbottom United then showed the Storks how it’s done by going to the same venue and winning 4-0 to move into the top half of the table.

Padiham got back on track with a 2-1 home win against Kendal Town and then gained a superb 2-2 draw at Curzon Ashton, twice coming from behind.

Clitheroe gained a three points with a fine 2-0 win against Northwick Victoria at Shawbridge before going down 2-1 at New Mills. The Blues then defeated Mossley 3-1 at Shawbridge.

In the NWCFL, two goals from Jason Hart, his 10 th and 11 th of the campaign, helped Colne to a 4-0 win at Alsager Town while AFC Liverpool moved up to 2 nd after a 2-1 win at Bacup. The evergreen Ronnie Morgan hit the winner on 90 minutes before a paltry 45 spectators at West View.

Colne then defeated Abbey Hey 2-0 to go 7 th before a disappointing turn out of 54 while Liverpool thrashed Wigan Robin Park 6-0.

Barnoldswick Town looked set for a point at home to Runcorn Town but two goals in the final few minutes gave the visitors all the spoils. They then travelled to AFC Blackpool where a poor turn out of 34 witnessed them hit three unanswered 2 nd half goals in 10 minutes after trailing 1-0 at the break.

In DivisionOne, a crowd of over 300 saw leaders 1874 Northwich beat Darwen 4-1.

Nelson moved back into 3 rd spot after coming from behind to win 3-2 at Atherton LR with Johnny Hession hitting the vital third goal four minutes from time.

They then hosted Hanley with both sides knowing that a win would take them to top spot and there looked only one winner at the break with the Admirals leading 2-0. In the 2 nd period Hanley pulled one back but Nelson restored their two-goal lead and with just 15 minutes to go the three points looked safe but the Staffs. side hit back and scored an 89 th minute winner before a shocking turn out of only 40.

Formby, with games in hand, look a decent bet for promotion after a slow start and they thrashed Daisy Hill 7-1 in front of a paltry crowd of 31.

In the League Challenge Cup, Jason Hart scored yet again for Colne at Darwen and that looked to be enough before an 87 th minute equaliser sent the game into extra-time and Darwen took full advantage, winning 4-2.

Barnoldswick Town were narrowly beaten 1-0 at Runcorn Linnets while the Peter Pan of the NWCFL, Liverpool’s Ronnie Morgan, scored a hat-trick as the Reds won 5-1 at West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Barlick then drew 1-1 at St. Helens while Colne won 2-0 at Wigan Robin Park while Darwen made the long midweek trek to Holker Old Boys only to be thrashed 4-0. Colne cemented their 7 th spot, Barnoldswick are in mid-table while in the 1 st Division Darwen are towards the wrong end of the table in 14 th place.

Bacup travelled to Atherton Collieries and were trailing 2-1 at the break when a fight broke out in the tunnel as the players left the pitch and the referee abandoned the game, leaving both clubs sweating on expulsion and a fine.

No incidents to report from their next outing at Silsden where Brent Peters’ boys won 2-1 to move 5 points away from the drop zone.

Still no joy for Woodford United and their latest fixture resulted in another heavy defeat, 6-2 at home to Rothwell Corinthians.

Great Harwood Town are still on the leader’s board in the Fantasy Non-League and have shot up 27 places to 107 th.

Early October

Matt Derbyshire was promoted to the starting line-up despite Nottingham Forest’s win against Derby County. Sadly for Matt he failed to make the desired impact and was replaced on 55 minutes of the 1-1 draw at Charlton Athletic.

Andy Procter was made captain as Bury hosted Newport County and his second half cross for Soares created the best chance of the game but the forward shot over and the afternoon finished goalless.

Morecambe were the next visitors to Gigg Lane and once again the Shakers failed to trouble the scoresheet unlike the Shrimps who notched two and that defeat proved to be the death knoll for manager and ex Boston United keeper Kevin Blackwell.

Andy came as near as anyone to breaking the deadlock but his angled shot on 35 minutes failed to trouble the keeper but five minutes later his firm close-range header brought out a superb tip over from the visitors keeper.

Also in League Two, Don Fitzgerald was disappointed to see his AFC Wimbledon side crash to a 2-0 home defeat against Northampton Town although they’re still amongst the front-runners.

The game looked to be a home banker with the Dons unbeaten at home and the Cobblers winless away from home. Things didn’t improve in the next game as they hosted bottom side Accrington Stanley in another fixture that looked to be a certain Wimbledon win but it took an 86 th minute equaliser to avoid a second successive defeat.

Better news this week was that the club has made plans to move back to Plough Lane.

Southport’s home form has kept them away from the bottom of the Skrill Premier but they suffered their first defeat at Haig Avenue when 2 nd placed Kidderminster Harriers won 2-1.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot suffered a home defeat, 3-0 against Grimsby Town in the Skrill Premier but were then involved in a thriller against Luton Town. They twice came from behind to lead 3-2 at the break were had to settle for a point after an 80 th minute penalty.

They got back to winning ways at Lincoln City where a great following of 193 fans were rewarded for making the long journey by seeing the Shots triumph 1-0.

In the Evo-stik Premier, James Dean’s old club AFC Fylde began the month in top spot but his latest club Chorley are hot on their tails in 2 nd spot.

They could only draw at Stamford but Deano was a threat throughout and was man of the match. The opening chance fell to him but he shot narrowly over, on 25 minutes he directed a header straight at the keeper and after the break his powerful volley was once again too close to the home goalie.

Other results saw them slip down the table but a 1-0 win at Nantwich Town took them back into 3 rd place.

Fylde then won 3-0 at Barwell but two wins in four days by Skelmersdale United saw them take over at the summit. The 2 nd of those wins came in a convincing 3-1 win at FC United who also dropped points in their previous fixtures at Kings Lynn, 0-0 the score in front of a magnificent turn out of 1,440.

In the FA Trophy, Bamber Bridge followed Great Harwood Town in getting knocked out of a National competition, although we locked horns in the FA Vase, 2-1 the score in Lincolnshire.

Padiham lost 2-1 at home to Sheffield with ex-Robin Martin Parkes scoring a late consolation for the Storks.

Ramsbottom United followed up their 1-1 league draw with local rivals Radcliffe Borough with a 2-1 Trophy success at Warrington Town and that completed a miserable day for the town as their rugby team lost the final to Wigan.

The good form continued at Wakefield where just 64 people saw them win 3-2.

Another town that suffered badly over the first few days of the month was Ossett. A crowd of just under 1,000 saw Darlington take apart Ossett Albion, winning 7-0, and the North Easterners then travelled to play Ossett Town in the Trophy and won 6-1 before a mammoth attendance of 408. Town were previously unbeaten at home this season but for the second game running, Darlo were 5-0 up by half time.

What a game in the Evo-stik Division One North at Burscough. The home side took the lead in the 1 st minute against Padiham and made it two a minute later before the Storks hit back to make it 2-1 in just the 3 rd minute. A full five minutes passed before the home side made it 3-1 but by half time it was 3-3 and Padiham gained a memorable victory thanks to an 81 st minute winner.

Another crackerjack of a game followed that as the Storks travelled to 3 rd placed Warrington Town only the winner was never in doubt as the visitors were reduced to chasing shadows during a 7-2 defeat.

2 nd placed Curzon Ashton hosted leaders Darlington and after a 1-0 home win, the sides swapped places.

Sad to see Clitheroe’s crowds dwindling and only 134 witnessed another disappointing defeat, 2-0 to Harrogate R.I. Mind you, compared with Wakefield, who used to be Emley, that was terrific as a paltry 37 turned out for their 3-1 defeat to Cammell Laird, and at Evo-stik level, one wonders why they carry on with the expenses involved.

The Blues then hosted Radcliffe Borough in the FA Trophy and were 3-1 up at the break but the visitors fought back to force a replay which they won 3-0.

The home supporters then had something to cheer about as they beat Kendal Town 3-0 and a home tie against Wigan Robin Park in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy gave them a chance to continue their winning ways and restore some confidence but with just four minutes remaining they trailed 2-0 and many of the paltry gate of 94 had already made their way out of the exits. The Blues then hit two to force penalties but it was Wigan who went through, 4-2.

Blackpool also must have been disappointed to see a crowd of only 20 turn out for their tie with Burscough, who won 3-2.

Darwen crushed West Didsbury & Chorlton 6-0 while Lancaster City had to come from behind to beat Rochdale Town 2-1 at the Giant Axe.

Ramsbottom United made it through, beating Atherton LR 3-1 and Nelson and Colne produced a thriller in the East Lancs derby.

The Admirals took an early lead but just after the break Colne looked to be cruising after hitting three goals of their own. Nelson pulled one back before two Richie Allen goals in the final 5 minutes gave them a morale-boosting victory.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, 2 nd placed Runcorn Town hosted top side Maine Road and gained a tremendous 4-1 win to close the gap.

The prolific Jason Hart gave Colne an early lead at Squires Gate but they failed to build on that and ended up on the wrong side a 2-1 defeat. Another trip to the same area three days later yielded a similar result as they lost 3-0 at Blackpool.

Bacup scored two minutes from time to record a great win at West Didsbury & Chorlton while Barnoldswick beat Winsford United 2-1 at the Silentnight Stadium. Barlick then hosted Bacup who took a 4 th minute lead but the home side hit back 12 minutes later and that’s how the game ended.

Brent Peters’ boys were then brushed aside by visitors Norton United who enjoyed an easy 4-0 victory.

Barnoldswick, meanwhile, are struggling, losing 7-0 at Maine Road and it could have been worse as the Mancunians failed to add to their total during the last 15 minutes. Another heavy defeat, 4-0 at Squires Gate followed to leave them perilously near the foot of the table.

Norton United are continuing the good form of last season and they moved into 2 nd place with a 2-0 home win against Abbey Hey before the win at Bacup.

A real thriller at Stockport Sports where they drew 5-5 with Bootle. The BBC’s football results web-site actually printed the 5-5 scoreline against the Stockport County v Rushall Olympic FA Cup tie!!

Sports came from behind four times to eventually take the lead on 82 minutes but that lasted for just a minute before Bootle made it 5-5. That final goal was the 4 th in as many minutes and the 37 spectators can have few complaints about value for money.

In the 1 st Division, Northwich Flixton Villa soon got back into their old ways after their heroics against Hanley Town. They lost 6-1 at Leek CSOB, conceding all the goals in the first 66 minutes, before a dreadful turn out of 15 at Harrison Park.

They then took on Eccleshall in the League Challenge Cup with the game being switched to Staffordshire, hence the ‘large; crowd of 39. The switch didn’t deter the strugglers as they raced into a three goal lead inside 37 minutes but after an hour’s play the lead had gone. 15 minutes from time they re-took the lead only for Eccleshall to force extra time with an 81 st minute equaliser, and then win the game with the only goal of the 30 extra minutes.

Nelson were surprisingly thrashed 4-0 in their tie at Formby but Darwen made it through after winning 2-1 at Atherton LR.

The Blues then hosted Northwich Flixton Villa and considering their attacking potential, a huge victory was on the cards. That didn’t materialise and Villa rescued an unlikely point after an 89 th minute equaliser.

Darwen also let a lead slip at home to Atherton Collieries, leading 3-1 with 20 minutes left, they had to settle for a point as Colls not only saved themselves with a last minute leveller, the point took them to the top of the table.

In the league, Hanley re-gained top spot after a 3-0 win at Irlam but they then lost that after a 3-0 home defeat against Ashton Town and Atherton’s draw.

A ‘derby’ of sorts took place at Flixton where Northwich Flixton Villa met 1874 Northwich and the Valley Road ground saw it’s biggest attendance for some time as 196 witnessed another fighting display from the hosts who went down 1-0.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic were knocked out of the St Lukes Bowl after a 2-1 defeat at Barnstable Town and were then held to a goalless draw at home by Longwell Green Sports before winning 2-1 at Hallen.

Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough have enjoyed recent FA Cup success but not this season after they lost 2-0 at Ebbsfleet.

Great Harwood Town currently lie in 134 th place in the Non-League Fantasy League.

Late september

Matt Derbyshire started on the bench as Nottingham Forest made the trip to Doncaster Rovers and with his side 2-1 down, he was brought on 20 minutes from time. He was immediately in action, seeing his low shot well saved by the Donny keeper. He then looked to have earned the Reds a spot kick when he appeared to be fouled but the Referee waved play on. Within minutes he dashed down the left and created a simple chance for Patterson but he mis-hit his shot from only 6 yards and the ball looped into the keeper’s arms.

He was then selected for the starting line-up as Forest travelled to Burnley for a League Cup tie and after receiving plenty of ‘verbals’ from the locals, he replied by scoring the opener from a yard out and then giving the Burnley fans some ‘verbals’ of his own.

Sadly it was downhill from then on with Burnley winning 2-1 and Matt missing an absolute sitter with the score at 1-1 when he lobbed the stranded keeper but also cleared the bar by some way. Nevertheless, that made it three goals in three League Cup games for the Harwood legend.

Not surprisingly he was back on the bench for the next game, the big East Midlands derby, against Derby County, and that’s where he stayed throughout as Forest won 1-0.

Andy Procter’s Bury side looked to get back on track after defeat at Fleetwood Town when they entertained Southend United and it took just a minute before Andy set up the game’s first chance but it was the Shrimpers who took the lead in the first half, a lead they held until the 91 st minute, the game ending 1-1.

Another away defeat followed, 2-1 at Dagenham.

Not too long ago, the afore mentioned Fleetwood were pitting their wits against us at the Crown Ground and Portsmouth were in the Premier League, winning the FA Cup and gracing some of the finest grounds in Europe but the two sides met on equal terms at Fratton Park and Town won 1-0 in front of almost 16,000 fans to continue their fine recent form.

Don Fitzgerald is delighted with his AFC Wimbledon side this term and they moved up to 3 rd with another win, 3-1 at home to Burton Albion.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Two local sides, Chorley and Fylde are enjoying good form and results.

Chorley moved into second place with a 1-0 home win against Kings Lynn Town and cemented that position with a 3-0 success against Blyth Spartans three days later at the same venue, Blyth’s first away defeat of the season.

The game saw James Dean (now we know why he hasn’t been in the Fylde side) score his first two goals for his new club after three appearances. The first was a deflected effort on 26 minutes and the second was a close range shot which he blasted into the net in the final minute. He was a thorn in the opponents side throughout the game and was the man of the match.

They were then surprisingly beaten 4-0 in the FA Cup at Vauxhall Motors, if not by the result, then certainly by the margin with all the goals coming in the final 20 minutes. Subsidised travel enabled around 250 Magpies fans to follow their team and that was just as well because the attendance was just 366.

Fylde meanwhile, are top of the table after two excellent away victories, 2-1 at Whitby Town and 1-0 at Witton Albion, but they like Chorley, exited the FA Cup, losing 1-0 at home to Ashton United.

In a bad weekend for the League’s FA Cup hopes, another of the leading sides, Skelmersdale United, lost 5-0 at West Auckland Town.

FC United are enduring a torrid spell, after losing to Chorley in the FA Cup, they lost 2-1 in the League at Stafford Rangers, courtesy of a 95 th minute home winner, went out of the Manchester Premier Cup at New Mills, on penalties after a 3-3 draw, and then lost 3-1 at home to Whitby Town in the Evo-stik.

In Division One, Ramsbottom United dropped to second bottom after losing to a last minute goal at Mossley, 4-3 the score and the home side’s first win of the campaign.

A tough home game against Darlington followed that but the Rams got back to winning ways in emphatic style, winning 3-0 in front of almost 400 fans at the Riverside.

Next up was an FA Cup tie at Barrow who proved too strong, winning 3-0.

Clitheroe gained a fine 2-1 win at Ossett Albion with all the goals coming before the break, but were then beaten 2-0 at Kendal Town.

Padiham led 1-0 and 2-1 at home to Ossett Town but were well beaten 5-2 at the end. A derby, also at the Arbories, against Bamber Bridge followed that and no one could have predicted the Storks 6-1 victory with five of their goals coming after the break.

In the Skrill Premier, Southport made it six away defeats in seven trips after successive single goal losses to Braintree and Dartford.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot continued their impressive form, beating Wrexham to move up to third from bottom and without their ten point deduction, the Shots would be lying in a play-off spot.

Another of our supporters, Paul Salt , has seen his Altrincham team carry on where they left off last season and they currently lie 3 rd in the Skrill North but they got a shock in the FA Cup where local rivals Trafford pulled off a major shock by winning 2-1. For Harwood fans who travelled to Trafford last time we played them, they’ll be able to imagine how packed the ground was with over 800 fans present.

North Ferriby United knocked us out of one of our last ever cup campaigns and they breezed into the next round after a 4-1 win at Buxton.

Another of our recent opponents, Guisborough Town equalised in the 95 th minute at Jarrow to draw 3-3 but the most exciting game must have been down in the South West where Bristol Manor Farm entertained Bridgwater Town. The home side were cruising at the break after three unanswered goals but the Town manager must have had some words of wisdom during the break before they led 4-3 after 77 minutes before an equaliser four minutes from time took the game to a replay.

Not too many ‘Counties’ sides left in the competition but Runcorn Linnets, former giant-killers, beat Cammell Laird 1-0 in front of over 400 fans and it would be nice to see the club back in the Conference eventually.

In the FA Vase, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic made it through to the next round after a 2-0 win at Exmouth Town.

Mixed bag for recent opponents with Guisborough Town beating Durham 3-1 and Crook Town winning 6-2 at Pickering Town.

Glasshoughton lost 4-1 at home to Armthorpe while Bilston Town, remember that strange looking ground, lost 7-0 at home to Stourport Swifts.

The NWCFL sides had a mixed day with Darwen surely the most disappointed. They led visitors Kinsley Boys 3-0 after only 25 minutes and must have been looking for a huge win but just two minutes after the break it was all level at 3-0 and Kinsley made it through after extra time with a 108 th minute winner.

Another turnaround at Consett where the home side led high-flying Nelson 2-0 after quarter of an hour but the free-scoring blues had levelled just seven minutes later. Ten minutes after half-time the home side re-took the lead but Nelson hit back again to win 4-3 and book another trip up to the North East.

Colne went out after a 2-1 reverse at Liversedge while AFC Blackpool replicated our victory at Winterton Rangers winning 2-1 with both the Mechanics goals coming in the final 5 minutes.

Bacup led 3-1 at Parkgate but had to settle for a replay after a thrilling 4-4 draw but sadly for Brent’s boys, they lost 4-2 on penalties after a goalless game at West View.

Yet more comebacks involving the NWCFL sides with Holker Old Boys gaining a superb 5-1 win at home to Crawcrook Albion after trailing at the break, and Norton United coming from two down at home to Boldmere St Michaels to win 3-2.

Barnoldswick Town lost 3-1 at Newcastle Benfield.

In the league, Squires Gate looked be on the way to a Premier League hiding at Bootle, trailing by two goals after only 18 minutes but they hit back to gain a tremendous 4-2 win.

Colne beat Ashton Athletic 1-0 thanks to a goal from ex-Robin Ed O’Neil after 20 minutes with a season’s best crowd of 76 turning up thanks to free entry. When we used to play Colne they always had a good support of over 100 so it’s sad to see how the attendances have fallen in recent years.

Bacup took the lead after only 2 minutes at St. Helens but the home side levelled just a minute later with the ‘goal-fest’ failing to materialise as the game ended 1-1.

All five goals at Wigan Robin Park came in the opening 45 minutes where Barnoldswick Town lost 3-2.

In the 1 st Division, 1874 Northwich aren’t having it all their own way with several clubs looking likely candidates for a promotion push. One of them, Formby, are getting their act together after a slow start and they beat the fans club 1-0 in front of a magnificent crowd of 541.

Darwen are way off the standards they set last year and they had to be content with a point after a 1-1 draw with Cheadle Town at the Anchor.

Poor old Oldham Borough drew a crowd of just 10 for their game with Holker Old Boys which ended 2-2.

Nelson top the table after another big win, 5-1 at home to Atherton LR while one of their main title rivals were involved in the shock result of the season so far. Hanley Town were unbeaten in their eleven league games this term and boasted the best defence, just ten goals conceded in the those eleven games. They travelled to hapless Northwich Flixton Villa who lost their previous home game 6-0 and had just one win in their ten games. A certain away win one would have thought but the 20 hardy souls who turned up (how many travelled from the Potteries?) witnessed an amazing first half where Villa built up a 4-0 lead. A goal apiece in the second half gave the strugglers a confidence-boosting 5-1 victory.

Finally, some good news on this season’s fantasy non-league with Great Harwood Town on the leader’s board in 71 st position from over 1700 entrants.

Early September

Matt Derbyshire was disappointed to remain on the bench as Nottingham Forest defeated Barnsley 3-2 at the City Ground and he was named as a sub. for the next game, at home to Middlesborough. The Reds surprisingly found themselves 2-0 down with an hour of the match gone so Matt was introduced and helped turn the game around, firstly heading in Andy Reid’s cross, just 10 minutes after coming on, and then helping Forest to maintain the ascendancy and register an equaliser

Andy Procter couldn’t prevent Bury from exiting the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy as they were beaten 2-1 at Port Vale. It looked good for the Shakers as they took a 71 st minute lead but two goals in the final 10 minutes saw the Valiants make it through to the next round.

A huge crowd of over 5,500 witnessed a fiery affair as Bury took on Rochdale at Spotland. The home side edged it 1-0 with Bury’s best chance falling to Andy but when well positioned he chose to pass and the chance was gone. Rochdale’s Vicente was shown a second yellow card for a crude challenge on the ex-Robin.

No sign of James Dean in the squad for the last five AFC Fylde games and with the Whites on an excellent run of form, 2 nd in the League and winning 3-1 at Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup, he may struggle to make a quick return, if indeed he’s still at the club.

Clitheroe haven’t had the best of starts but it looked to be changing as they led Darlington 2-0 at Shawbridge in front of a massive crowd of 575 but three second half goals sent the huge away following into raptures. Darlo’s opening three home fixtures have all drawn more than 1,100 and those long-suffering supporters deserve to see the club on their way back up the Pyramid.

The Blue, meanwhile, then drew 1-1 at Mossley before losing at home again, 2-1 to Wakefield and that makes it 5 defeats in 6 games.

In the same league, Padiham are also struggling, losing 2-1 at Salford and 4-1 at home to Curzon Ashton. They then travelled to Mossley, whose gates have really fallen away-less than 100 for their game with Clitheroe-for a Doodson Cup tie, and a paltry 47 fans witnessed a thriller which the Storks lost 4-3.

In the Premier Division, our old friends at FC United continued their good early season form, beating Witton Albion 3-1 at Gigg Lane but they went down 2-0 to Rushall Olympic before getting back on track at Frickley, winning 2-1.

A home tie with Chorley in the FA Cup followed that and it was the Magpies who went through courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 win.

That great win followed hot on the heels of a tremendous 3-0 win against Stafford Rangers and a 6-2 thrashing of Trafford, both games at Victory Park and a 2-1 win at Matlock Town. The good run was eventually ended in a top of the table clash at Skelmersdale United, who won 1-0.

Also in the FA Cup, Droylsden, sinking faster than a stone, followed up their 5-0 league defeat at Fylde with a 5-1 home drubbing by neighbours Trafford, with ex-Blackburn Rovers and more recently Colwyn Bay star, Shelton Payne, notching all five.

Ramsbottom United are getting to grips with the league, drawing 2-2 at home to Northwich Victoria before beating Ossett Albion 2-1 on the road. They then forced a replay in the FA Cup at Stocksbridge P.S. with a last minute penalty before winning the replay 3-0.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Colne are the area’s leading club, lying in 7 th despite three defeats in a row, 1-0 at home to Maine Road, 2-1 at home to Barnoldswick Town, despite leading, and 3-1 at Congleton Town.

Barlick hammered Squires Gate 4-0 before the Colne victory and then took the lead at Runcorn Town but still went down 4-1. They then drew 1-1 with Norton United at the Silentnight Stadium.

Two home games for Bacup brought just a single point, from a 1-1 draw with Alsager Town, and that was followed by a 2-1 defeat by Wigan Robin Park, despite taking the lead.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen are finding it more difficult than last season although the attendances have certainly held up well. Over 100 saw their 0-0 draw with Rochdale and 80 turned up for the clash with Formby who are also finding the going tough. The Salmoners looked set for a morale-boosting win as they led 2-0 after half an hour but the Squirrels hit back to score five without reply from then on.

Our area’s other side, Nelson, remain top of the table despite having the 4 th worst defensive record in the Division. They lost 3-0 in the top-of-the-table clash at Hanley Town with Ben Lees notching all three but no less than three Nelson players also hit hat-tricks in the next couple of games as the Admirals went goal-crazy.

Peter Wright claimed the match ball as Rochdale were dispatched 6-1 before just 57 supporters at Victoria Park, and then a few more saw a real thriller against improving Oldham Borough. The visitors stormed into a 4-2 lead after only half an hour but less than 30 minutes later it was 7-4 to Nelson with the final score 8-4 which included trebles for Richie Allen and Daniel Finch. Needless to say the side has the most potent attack in the League, averaging over three goals a game.

Hanley still look to be favourites as they’ve got the only unbeaten record in the Division although that was in jeopardy as they trailed 1-0 at the break at Daisy Hill. The 28 spectators saw an amazing turnaround in the second half with the Potteries side winning 7-1.

In the FA Vase 1874 Northwich suffered a rare defeat, losing 2-1 at Oldham Borough after extra time.

Many of our long-distance Harwood supporters are quite satisfied with their local side’s early season form, Don Fitzgerald had seen his AFC Wimbledon side move into 7 th place although they could have gone 2 nd with a win at Chesterfield. Sadly it wasn’t to be as the Spirites won 2-0 and lead the table. That defeat for the Dons followed a thrilling 5-3 Johnstones Paint Trophy exit at Brentford, and a 2-0 win at York City.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot have made it into the ‘black’ after their 10 point deduction this season. A good run of form saw them beat Macclesfield Town 1-0 at the Recreation Ground, 2-0 at Hereford, a result which also saw them move off the foot of the table, and draw 3-3 at home to Barnet, having led 3-1.

Mike Barry has watched his Eastbourne Borough side exceed expectations so far and they are nicely placed in mid-table although a run of three games without a win has seen them slip away from the leading pack. A 2-1 defeat at Staines Town was followed by a goalless draw against Concord Rangers at Priory Lane before a narrow 2-0 defeat at leaders Eastleigh.

Buckland Athletic are riding high in 5 th position in the Western League after two wins at the beginning of September, 3-2 at Odd Down(Bath), and 2-0 at home to Slimbridge.

Late August

Matt Derbyshire came on for Jamie Mackie 15 minutes from time in Nottingham Forest’s 3-0 win against Bolton Wanderers at the City Ground and he immediately set up a great chance for Halford but his shot was blocked.

A trip to Watford followed that win but this time the Reds had to settle for point after a 1-1 draw with Matt coming on from the bench in the 61 st minute.

Forest then needed extra-time to dispose of Millwall in the League Cup and Matt was given a starting berth. He didn’t disappoint and gave the Reds the lead with a 58 th minute header before surprisingly being replaced just 8 minutes later.

Forest then lost 2-1 at Wigan Athletic with Matt spending the full 90 minutes warming the bench.

A huge Gigg Lane attendance of 4,337, which included over a thousand Chesterfield fans, saw Andy Procter’s Bury lose again, 2-0. Andy saws his 20 th minute close-range header go straight into the keeper’s arms when either side of him would have been the game’s opener.

Accrington Stanley were the next visitors and the Shakers finally got of the mark with a powerful display to win 3-0.Another large crowd of over 3,000 were present including almost 350 from Stanley.

Andy came within inches of making it four as he couldn’t quite connect with an injury time cross.

That excellent form was carried into their next game at highly-fancied Burton Albion and a masterful midfield display by the former Robin helped Bury to a 2-0 half time lead which they held until 7 minutes from time, and worse was to come as the Brewers equalised in the last minute.

A fantastic League Cup game was next up and despite a 6-3 defeat at Premier League Norwich City, the Shakers gave a good account of them selves to delight their 1,000 travelling fans. Andy’s nod down set up their first goal on 71 minutes to make it 3-1 and give his side hope of a comeback.

Next up were Cheltenham Town at Gigg Lane and what an eventful game it turned out to be, especially for Andy. His unlucky deflection gave the visitors the lead in the 4 th minute but the Shakers hit back as he shot fractionally over the bar a minute later. Bury were level just 5 minutes later and were soon ahead after the ex-Harwood hero headed in his side’s second in the 12 th minute. With less than 20 minutes gone it was 3-1 and in the second period he almost made it four when he headed just over on the hour, but Bury weren’t to be denied and Bury did score again to win 4-1.

James Dean is struggling to get any playing time at AFC Fylde and he was an unused substitute as his side defeated Stafford Rangers 2-1 at Kellamergh Park. He remained twiddling his thumbs on the bench for the following three games at FC United, 0-0, Grantham Town, a 2-1 win, and at home to Chorley, a 1-0 defeat in front of almost 600 fans.

After that defeat he must have been hopeful of a recall but he was omitted from the squad altogether for the trip to Worksop, and after a terrific 6-1 win (5-0 at the break) it could be difficult for him to get back in the first team.

Leading that Division after the opening month are FC United who won 5-1 at Grantham Town before a huge crowd of 737.

In the NWCFL, Bacup could only draw 0-0 at home to AFC Blackpool before being comprehensively beaten 4-1 by Formby, also at West View.

They continued to struggle, losing 1-0 at Maine Road and then another home loss, 2-0 to Ashton Athletic, a defeat which left them in 20 th place in the Premier Division.

They finally had some much-needed success, winning 3-0 at home to Silsden.

Next up was a trip to ambitious Stockport Sports and the people who’ve been putting money into the club must be wondering why as a paltry 22 turned up for their game with Bacup which Brent Peter’s boys won 2-0.

Colne won 3-1 at nearby Silsden in front of a very healthy crowd of 214 and then entertained South Shields in the FA Cup, drawing 1-1, but losing the replay 2-1.

The next League game produced a great 5-1 win against Winsford United at Holt House with Great Harwood Town favourite ED O’Neil rounding off the scoring.

Another home win followed, 3-1 against the hapless Wigan Robin Park and a Jason Hart hat-trick helped them end the month with a great 4-1 win at Abbey Hey.

Barnoldswick Town were another one of our local side to exit the FA Cup, losing 2-0 at home to Hebburn Town after a 2-2 draw in the North East and another 2-0 defeat followed at AFC Liverpool.

The poor start to the campaign continued in their next home game and a 2-1 defeat to St. Helens left them in 19 th position and despite leading 1-0 at the break, they then lost 2-1 at home to AFC Blackpool

Norton United were one of only a couple of NWCFL sides to enjoy Cup success and they continued scoring for fun just as they ended last season. Southam United were despatched 7-1 and as they returned to League action, they enjoyed a fantastic 5-1 win at Runcorn Linnets.

Squires Gate then travelled to Staffordshire to see if they could stop the scoring spree but despite twice leading, they slipped to a 4-2 defeat.

A trip to leaders Maine Road followed that victory and despite trailing 2-0, they came back to earn a share of the spoils. Those two points were the first that the Mancunians had dropped this season and the two Norton goals made it 23 in just 7 games.

Runcorn Town were also one of last season’s top scorers and they made it through to the next round of the FA Cup, winning 7-2 at home to one of our old Cup foes, Winterton Rangers.

AFC Blackpool lost 2-0 at Worksop Parramore much to the dismay of ex-Harwood manager Ian McGarry.

AFC Darwen drew over 100 for their game with Atherton LR but the majority of fans went away disappointed as the visitors won 3-1. LR must have been expecting another victory as they hosted lowly Leek CSOB but were hammered 6-1 with their only goal being a late consolation.

Darwen again drew 100+ for their next game against Hanley Town but were beaten again, 2-1, and they had to settle for just a point after a 0-0 draw at Leek CSOB in front of only 20 spectators.

The Salmoners got back to winning ways with a 4-2 win against Holker Old Boys at the Anchor with all four goals coming in a 15 minute second half purple patch.

A disappointing 2-1 defeat at Eccleshall ended the month.

Nelson are enjoying a tremendous start to the season and almost 400 fans saw them win 3-1 at 1874 Northwich. A 2-1 home success against Cheadle Town was then followed by an outstanding 3-1 win at Formby, a result which took them to the top of the table.

That top spot was lost as an injury-ravaged Blues lost 5-2 at home to Irlam in a thriller at Victoria Park. The Mancunians took a 1 st half lead but Nelson fought back to go in 2-1 up at the break, Irlam equalised 15 minutes from time and ten minutes after that took the lead. Two last minute goals gave their victory a comfortable look but in reality it was far from that.

A player who destroyed the Robins many years ago whilst playing for Cammell Laird, Ronnie Morgan, is still banging in the goals for AFC Liverpool. He scored the first two in his side’s 8-0 away demolition of Wigan Robin Park and then scored in the 1-1 Liverpool Senior Cup tie at Bootle, which the home side won on penalties. With the combined average attendances of both clubs being around 200, the 445 proved to be a great turn-out on the night.

The week proved to be very tough for Wigan as they conceded another five without reply at Glossop North End.

Poor old Northwich Flixton Villa could attract just 17 fans for their 1-0 home win against Eccleshall and if that was poor then the 15 who attended the following home game against Ashton Town deserved a reward and that’s exactly what they got. They witnessed Ashton take a two-goal lead before the ‘home’ side hit back to lead 3-2. Another double from the visitors once again put them in the driving seat but Flixton finished off the scoring to draw 4-4.

In the Evo-stik League, Ramsbottom United are finding it hard work, losing their opening four games, 1-3 at home to Curzon Ashton, 0-2 at Ossett Town, 0-1 at Warrington Town and 1-2 at home to neighbours Padiham in front of over 300 fans.

After a difficult start, Padiham picked up their first point in a 1-1 home draw against Harrogate Railway in front of a terrific turn-out of 246. Another 200+ saw then draw 0-0 with Lancaster City, also at the Arbories.

Clitheroe haven’t had the best of starts, and after a good 1-1 draw at Salford City, they lost 1-0 at Curzon Ashton and 2-0 at home to Bamber Bridge in front of a bumper crowd of just under 300.

Also in Division One North, Darlington have been a great boost the coffers of their opponents. 331 saw Bamber Bridge lose 3-0 to the North-Easterners and over 500 witnessed Farsley’s 4-2 win, Darlo’s fisrt dropped points.

They then entertained Kendal Town where 1,356 saw them win 3-1.

An even bigger crowd saw the Trafford-FC United game where a last minute goal gave the Reds a 3-2 win.

A fantastic game in that Division witnessed New Mills take a 3-0 lead at Kendal Town after only 20 minutes before the Cumbrians stormed back with three of their own in just 7 minutes. The Millers regained the lead before the break but Kendal appeared to have earned a point with the score at 4-4 in the last minute but New Mills then hit the decider to take it 5-4.

Harwood fan Don Fitzgerald was disappointed to see his AFC Wimbledon side go down 2-0 at Exeter City and was fearing the worst when Scunthorpe United took a 2-0 lead into the break at the Cherry Red Records Stadium but the Dons hit back in the latter stages of the game to win 3-2.

They then entertained Fleetwood Town and leap-frogged their opponents after a 2-0 win with both goals coming in the first half.

Keeping with the Harwood supporters, Paul Clark has seen his Aldershot side enjoy a mixed start the campaign, but he’s obviously happy that they’re still playing at all. After the opening day draw at Grimsby, the Shots won 3-0 at home to Dartford before losing 1-0 to Cambridge United, also at the Recreation Ground.

Another single goal defeat followed at Salisbury before a 2-1 home win against Woking. A big plus for the Shots has been the attendances with all three home games drawing 2,000+ and over 3,000 watching the Woking victory.

A tough trip to Southport followed and Paul had to make the long journey home disappointed after a 1-0 defeat. That loss left the Shots still stranded at the foot of the table on -3 points.

Also in the Skrill Premier, a fantastic crowd of over 6,000 saw the derby between Wrexham and Chester in which the visitors picked up their first points of the season after a 2-0 win.

Our old landlords Accrington Stanley ended August at the foot of the table after another defeat, 1-0 at home to Burton Albion before a poor crowd of less than 2,000.

Down in the South West, Harwood supporter Nick Hancock saw his Buckland Athletic side go top of the table after a 2-0 home win against Bitton and a great 5-0 win at Ilfracombe Town. That was followed by a 3-0 FA Cup defeat at home to Wells City.

Two League defeats then followed, 0-1 at home to Gillingham Town, and 1-2 at Larkhall Athletic, before getting back on track with a 1-0 success at Bridport.

A 3-2 win at home to Winterbourne saw them end the opening month in 3 rd position.

Mike Barry has seen his Eastbourne Borough side enjoy a cracking start to the season, beating Weston-Super-Mare 1-0 away, Tonbridge Angels 2-1 at home and Hayes & Yeading United 1-0 away. A 1-1 home draw with big-spending Ebbsfleet United made it 10 points from four games and a place at the top of the Skrill South league table.

As the month came to a close, the FA Cup gave our local sides the chance to make some much-needed cash but only Ramsbottom United, 3-1 winners over Clitheroe, and Ramsbottom United, 5-0 at home to AFC Liverpool, made it through. Runcorn Linnets and Bootle were the only NWCFL sides to make it definitely though to the next round.

Two of our recent opponents made it into the hat with Crook Town enjoying a great 4-1 win at Kendal Town and Guisborough Town drawing 1-1 at home to Bridlington Town.

Early August

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.




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©2009 J Fenton