Season 2015-16 Latest News

 

June

Very sad news from Colne with the death of club legend, player and manager Nigel Coates. He served the Reds with distinction for many years and enjoyed great success, not just with the achievments, but with the manner of the way his sides played.

The Holt House hero played for the club during its Colne Dynamo days and set up the winner in the the FA Vase victory against Emley at Wembley.

He managed the club for ten years until stepping down 2 ½ years ago.

His sides invariably had the edge over Harwood during our clashes and were reknowned at that time for the excellent football they played.

He’ll be sadly missed by all football fans in the area, not just Colne supporters.

The Reds have been hit by the departure of ace marksman Jason Hart who has left for Ramsbottom United. New managers Paul Fildes and Mark Fell have pursuaded him to move to the Riverside and he’ll link up with the vastly experienced Gareth Seddon, who has moved from Salford City. The latters previous clubs include Bury, Fleetwood, Hyde, Rushden & Diamonds, Chester and Halifax and the twin strikers should give Rammy supporters plenty of optimism for a swift return to the Premier Division. Hart is still only 25 years-old so if he settles down with the Rams then their short-term future could be rosy.

Big surprise at the New York Stadium where Harwood legend Matt Derbyshire, top scorer ove rthe past two years for Rotherham United, was not offered a fresh deal by new Boss Alan Stubbs. Matt has now moved to the Mediterranean to play for Cypriot 1 st Division side Amonoia Nicosia.

Rochdale Town, AKA Castelton Gabriels, have been expelled from the NWCFL after it failed the ground-grading. The reason was that the changing rooms didn’t have toilets, but the club are not best pleased with the decision as the problem was not pointed out during ground-grading visits. Town will compete in the Manchester League next season.

The saga of Evesham and Cinderford has finally come to an end with winners and losers all round.

Cinderford won promotion but declined to make the step up, leaving Evesham up in arms. Their appeal against the original decision was victorious and now Cinderford have to go up, leaving them with huge travel costs.

Meanwhile, Evo-stik Premier League Stamford, who were originally relegated but then given a reprieve, have now been forced to drop down a division.

Boston United may not have won promotion but they did have plenty of awards to celebrate this season. They won the Best Health Programme for ‘United in the community’, Player of the year for the Vanarama North, centre back Carl Piergianni, Best Community Programme, equal Top Scorer, Dayle Southwell and Programme of the Year.

Meanwhile, the Pilgrims have added right back Kalen Thomas, midfielder Herve Pepe-Ngoma, centre half Joe Maguire, centre back Nat Brown(outstanding in his previous two month loan), and forward Wade Fiarhurst. Also coming in are much travelled striker Jason St Juste, Lamin Colley and goalkeeper Christian Dibble. Star players Dayle Southwell, Carl Piergianni, Zak Mills and captain Scott Garner have all left the club.

Leading scorer for the past two seasons, Southwell has signed a two-year deal with Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers, Piergianni has moved to Australia while Garner had signed for Halifaxx Town.

Highly-rated full back Zak Mills has moved into the Football League with Grimsby Town, signing a two-year deal after rejecting an offer to stay at York Street. Winger Kaine Felix has signed a two-year deal with newly relegated York City.

Boston will do do well to be amongst the leading pack next term.

Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough will be playing their Vanarama South games on a 3G pitch next season.

Ex-Harwood star Andy Procter has retired from football toconcentrate on a new career in physiotherapy.

Accrington Stanley, meanwhile have signed Fraazer Shaw from Leyton Orient and ‘keepers Elliot Parish and Aaron Chapman.

22 year-old Great Harwood born striker Marcus Carver has left the Crown Ground after finding 1 st team opportunities hard to come by.

Also leaving the club are Matt Crooks and Josh Windass who’ve both moved north of the border to join Rangers so the change in atmospheres at games will be amazign for the pair.

Great Harwood Town supporter Paul Clark will be looking forward to the coming season for Aldershot under new Boss Gary Waddock. He’s signed ace striker Scott Rendell from local rivals Woking, much to the dismay of Cards fans. After suffering a serious injury in the first game of last season, the Woking fans clubbed together to raise around £10,000 to pay for the players medical fees and his departure has understandably left them non-too-happy.

 

Late May

Our last interest in the play-offs brought joy to Don Fitzgerald, even though he wasn’t well enough to attend his AFC Wimbledon side’s 3-1 Wembley success against Millwall.

The ‘Real’ Wimbledon will take on ‘pretenders’ MK Dons next season and there’s no doubt who the football world will be rooting for when the sides meet.

Boston United have made two early signings, Courtney Wildin, from Sheffield Wednesday, and Callum Chippendale, from Bradford Park Avenue.

Simon Garner has joined the coaching staff of the Pilgrims Vanarama North rivals Altrincham. He’s also signed playing forms but isn’t expected to take the field. Nevertheless, he’ll probabaly start and end his playing career with a team nicknamed The Robins.

Simon’s position as Clitheroe manager has been taken by Welshman Simon Haworth, and Ryan Parr’s assistant manager’s post filled by fellow Welsh International, Gareth Roberts.

The new management team will have to begin next season without star player Sefton Gonzalez who’s made the short move to Chorley.

The Magpies have also signed Scott Leather from Altrincham as well as Adam Blakeman and Matt Challoner.

James Dean has been released after soring 53 goals in 134 games.

Ex-Morecambe legend Jim Harvey is the third Halifax Town manager to be shown the door, despite the Shaymen lifting the FA Trophy. The new man in charge is Billy Heath who, after guiding North Ferriby United to the Vanarama National League, dropped down to the North Division again.

Spennymoor, newly promoted the the Evo-stik Premier, have released no fewer than ten of last season’s squad.

NWCFL new boys Charnock Richard have been improving standards both on and off the pitch in recent years before making the move, and if their recent playing record is anything to go by, then they should make a possitive impact in the 1 st Division. The last six seasons in the West Lancs. League has seen them crowned Champions four times and runners-up in the other two.

Prestwich Heys are a club that we’ve played many times over the past 35 years or so but they left the league in 1986 and have now returned having been Champions of the Manchester League. Having won that League, they also should have few difficulties in making a positive impact next term.

Oswestry Town play at the Park Hall Stadium and share the ground with Welsh Champions TNS who’ll be playing Champions League football nest season.

Carlisle City could prove to be problematic with regards to the length of journeys, especially for mid-week games although their Gillfor Park ground, formally the home of Northern League Celtic Nation, is only 10 minutes from the M6.

For all lovers of non-league football, a new show on SkyTV, called ‘Rovers’ and set at New Mills is an absolute ‘do not miss’.

The two Great Harwood Town’s in the Non League Paper’s Fantasy League have improved somewhat in the second half of the season but with almost all the results in, they were in 777 th and 657 th positions.Plenty of room for improvement next term!

Good news story from the FA Vase final where Morpeth Town defied the odds to become the seventh Northern League club to win the Trophy in the past eight years. They beat favourites Hereford FC 4-1, despite going behind after barely a minute.

Defender Chris Swailes was the hero of the hour, scoring the equaliser to become the oldest player to score in a final. The 45-year-old was part of the Bridlington Town squad that won the Vase in 1993 and he also won the competition with Dunston UTS in 2012.

AFC Fylde were going to go full time had they won promotion but they’ve decided to do it anyway and that shoul give them an even better chance of going up next term.

Early May

Great Harwood Town’s hopes of winning the Accrington Combination were dashed thanks to a poor end of season. Thye lost 2-1 to AFC Accy, 2-0 to Hapton, defeated St. Mary’s College Old Boys 2-0 and finished the campaign with a 2-1 defeat to Water FC.

Morris and Hathaway topped the scoring charts with 14 and 13 goals apiece.

Matt Derbyshire was dropped from the Rotherham United squad for the final game of the season at Hull City but still finished as the Millers leading scorer. Maybe it had something to do with him saying that he wouldn’t rule out a move back to the Rovers, and how he still supports them.

Despite taking an early lead, Rotherham trailed 4-1 at the break and ended up losing 5-1.

Our old friends at Fleetwood Town gained the points that were necessary to preserve their League One status on the final day with their 2-0 home defeat of Crewe Alexandra, a result which sent nieghbours Blackpool down.

Andy Procter’s Accrington Stanley went into their final game at home to Stevenage knowing that a win, or any slip-ups from rivals Oxford United or Bristol Rovers, would give them promotion but they were held to a goalless draw despite hitting the woodwork. The accuracy of the shooting was the main cause of the draw with the Reds only mustering two efforts on target.

Nevertheless, that point was enough as the 90 minute-mark was passed, but that’s when Bristol scored a late winner at the Memorial Ground to break Stanley hearts.

Don Fitzgerald’s Wimbledon also made it into the play-offs, and will play the Reds in the semi-final. They finished 7 th and ended the normal league fixtures with a 1-0 home win against Newport County.

Those results set up a Dons v Stanley play-off semi-final and it was advantage Wimbledon after an added time goal gave them a slight advantage going inot the second leg at the Crown.

In the Conference North play-off semi-finals, Boston United gave North Ferriby United a sound beating in the 1 st leg but only took a two-goal lead into the return on Humberside. Nevertheless, with the way the Pilgrims had been playing lately, a victory into the final seemed certain but a poor performance, coupled with some diabolical refereeing, saw the Villagers win 3-0 to go through.

Manager Dennis Greene was aghast that Ferriby’s forward Tom Denton had remained on the pitch after several ‘debatable’ decisions, the biggest one when Denton elbowed Boston’s Piergianni, breaking his nose.

In the second leg, Denton dragged the same players to the floor, clearly tugging at his shirt, only for the referee to award an early penalty! That was converted and shortly afterwards the tie was level when Denton fouled keeper Spiess as a corner was being taken, and to add insult to injury, headed into the net.

In the second half,Denton elbowed the oyher centre back Brown, in the face and despite being floored with a head injury, the referee allowed play to go on, and in the following attack, Ferriby made it 3-0. Denton was finally booked in injury time for yet another cynical foul but as in the 1 st leg, he should have been sent off much earlier.

The crowd of 2,027, swelled by 1600-1700 Boston fans, was a club record, beating an attendance of 1,927 for a game against Hull City 11 years ago.

Ferriby hosted AFC Fylde in the final after the Coasters drew 1-1 in the 2 nd leg at home to Harrogate Town, who pushed them all the way to the final whistle before going down 2-1 on aggregate.

Another tight game ensued and an extra-time winner saw Ferriby gain promotion thanks to a 2-1 win at Church Road.

The NWCFL Premier Division title race went right to the ‘wire’ as Colne and Runcorn Linnets battled for the one promotion place.

Colne attracted just under 300 fans for their home game with West Didsbury & Chorlton and they saw the Reds win 3-0.

That left them two points ahead of Runcorn on the final day and with a four goal advantage in the goal-difference column.

‘Corn, backed by a large following amongst a crowd of 346 at the Arbories, brushed aside the Storks 4-0 meaning that a win for 4 th placed 1874 Northwich, at home to Colne, would see them take the title That was still possible with just minutes remaining until Danny Boyle hit the only goal of the game to delight the visiting fans amongst a crowd of 539 who’ll watch Evo-stik football next season.

Three days later the Reds failed to make it a double celebration when they lost 5-1 to Atherton Collieries in the Men United Cup Final, hot-shot Mark Battersby notching a hat-trick. 385 fans watched the action at Fleetwood Town’s Highbury Stadium.

A Ryan Charnley hat-trick gave Nelson a 3-0 home success against Cammell Laird but the Blues then lost 2-0 at Winsford United in their final game.

Barnoldswick Town looked on course for a big home win against struggling Alsager Town, leading 2-0 after only 15 minutes but the visitors fought back to gain a much-needed three points with a 4-2 win.

The Bullets then travelled to Maine Road knowing that realistically, they’d have to win at Maine Road to stay up but after a valliant effort, they could only manage a 2-2 draw and were relegated.

Also near the bottom, Darwen won 2-0 at Padiham to leave their fate in their own hands and they took full advantage, coming from behind at home to Cammell Laird to win 4-1 in front of 230 fans, to secure their Premier League status.

Of the other teams fighting to avoid the drop, Squires Gate lost a huge ‘six-pointer’ at ACF Blackpool 3-1 in front of 218 fans, but then won 2-0 at Ashton Athletic to save themselves.

Blackpool then lost 2-1 at West Didsbury, and then 5-3 in the return fixture a few days later, although even a win in their final game wouldn’t have been enough.

Joining Blackpool and Alsager in Division One next season are Silsden, despite taking four points from their last two games. A huge crowd in excess of 300 turned up to see them host Bootle but the game ended 1-1 and like Blackpool a win wouldn’t have saved them thanks to results elsewhere.

Going into the final two games, just two points separated the bottom five sides and before the last game, any of those five could have been relegated.

Barnoldswick, meanwhile, finished off with a tremendous 5-1 home win against highly-placed Atherton Collieries who ended the campaign with some poor results.

In the 1 st Division, Brent Peters’ Bacup Borough enjoyed a good end the season, finishing in 5 th spot and making it to the play-offs with a 2-0 home win against Ashton Town and a 2-2 draw with Daisy Hill, also at West View. In the second of those games, they actually led 2-0 after 80 minutes before letting the visitors back in it.

They then made it through to the final after 1 st half goals from Bell and Bellamy helped them to a 2-0 win at Stockport Town but unfortunately they fell at the last hurdle, losing 2-0 at Barnton after extra-time in front of a bumper crowd of 554.

Sad news that Northwich Manchester Villa have resigned from the League. They endured a torrid end to the season, losing six games in a row without scoring and conceding 22 goals.

The club began life as Woodley in 2005 before changing their name to Northwich Villa and competed in the Cheshire League. They joined the NWCFL in 2011 and two years later changed their name to Northwich Flixton Villa after moving to Valley Road Flixton.

At the beginning of this season, they changed their name again, this time to Northwich Manchester Villa after they moved ground to the highly impressive Manchester Regional Arena.

New clubs joining the competition next season are:

New Mills, from the Evo-stik League.

Carlisle City, from the Northern Football Alliance.

Charnock Richard, from the West Lancs. League.

FC Oswestry Town, new club.

Prestwich Heys, from the Manchester League.

Sandbach United, from the Cheshire League.

Down in the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic were looking to get their hands on some Silverware in the Les Phillips Cup. They defeated Bristol Manor Farm 1-0 in the quarter-final in the front of 109 fans at Homers Heath but despite being backed by around half of their supporters at Willand Rovers, they went down by the only goal of the semi-final, watched by a crowd of 126. Willand by the way, is a village 12 miles from Exeter.

Late April

Great Harwood Town ended the month in 2 nd place after beating St Mary’s College Old Boys 9-2, drawing 2-2 with Haslingden, defeating Bay Horse 6-0 and Haslingden 2-0. Morris and Hathaway are the two leading scorers for the club, both averaging a goal a game.

They trail leaders Black Dog by 12 points but with 4 games in hand.

I have tried to glean more information from the team manager on a couple of occasions but haven’t had any feedback.

Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United extended their long unbeaten run with a goalless draw at home to Nottingham Forest. Matt twice just failed to turn in 1 st half crosses and in the second period his great long-range shot flew narrowly wide before being substituted 12 minutes from time.

Another home draw, 1-1 against near neighbours Huddersfield Town was followed by a third draw, 0-0 at Wolves which guaranteed the Millers safety. Matt was the most likely of anyone on the pitch to break the deadlock, his shot just after the break bringing a fine save from the home keeper who excelled late in the game, twice saving efforts from the ex-Harwood hero.

A home game against another of his former clubs, Rovers, saw the 11 game unbeaten run end as they were surprisingly beaten 1-0.

Matt had the chance to cancel the visitors early opener but glanced his header wide and half was through the first period he hooked another effort wide.

His only chance of the second half saw him scuff a close-range opportunity and he was subbed after 73 minutes.

Andy Procter finally got some decent game time for Accrington Stanley, coming on from the bench after 41 minutes of the 2-2 home draw with Morecambe. Those dropped points saw the Reds move out of the automatic promotion places but they were soon back in them after a 2-1 success at Hartlepool which moved them up to 2 nd place. They then entertained York City, who also needed the points in their relegation fight but the Reds triumphed 3-0 to remain 2 nd and also condemn City to a return to the Conference after four years. Plymouth Argyle’s surprise 3-2 home defeat against doomed Dagenham also gave Stanley a welcome boost.

Andy wasn’t involved in the penultimate game of the season at Wycombe Wanderers where a 1-0 win put them within touching distance of promotion.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon looked to have put themsleves in a great position for a play-off spot after a good run and that run continued with a 1-0 home win against Crawley. A 2-0 win at doomed Dagenham and Redbridge, and a 1-0 home win against Leyton Orient. A 0-0 draw at Stevenage then made sure of their top six finish.

In the Vanarama National, Paul Salt’s Altrincham looked set for a return to the North Division after a 2-0 defeat at Eastleigh left them three points(four with a poor goal difference) from safety with only two games to play.

The first of those saw them entertain relegated Welling and the Robins took full advantage to thrash the visitors 5-0 and boost their goal difference. Anything but the three points would have seen their fate sealed.

The final game of the campaign was a trip to play-off chasing Braintree Town who made it thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win and condemn the Robins to the drop.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot gave a poor display at home to relegation-threatened Boreham Wood who won 2-1 to move out of the drop zone.

The Shots then lost for the 12 th time at home this season as Southport came from behind to win 2-1 in front of an excellent crowd of just under 1,400.

They ended the season in fine style though, winning 3-1 at Bromley to finish in 15 th place.

Southport had already secured their safety, although they were never really in trouble, with a 2-2 home draw against Lincoln City and finished with a 4-3 reverse at home to relegated Kidderminster Harriers.

In the North Division, I travelled over the border to see Boston United earn a hard-fought point in a 0-0 draw at Harrogate Town, a result that saw the home side make the play-offs and the Pilgrims hanging on to the last spot.

The Mighty Pilgrims were then involved in their biggest game of the season, entertaining Nuneaton Town at York Street knowing that anything less than a win would see their fate end up in the hands of others.

A crowd of over 2,000 saw Nuneaton take the lead but two long-distance strikes by Felix and Rollins gave Boston the points and their cause was helped immensley by Nuneaton’s appeal against their 3 point deduction turned down 24 hours previously.

I once again got the opportunity to see them in action in the final game at Stalybridge Celtic where a win was vital with their two rivals hosting already relegated sides.

The Pilgrims, backed by 500+ supporters, tore into their opponents from the off and could have sewn the game up by the break but just led 2-0.

There was no let up after the re-start and three more goals gave them a 5-0 win. Dayle Southwell notched a hat-trick to take his tally to 24 goals to share the ‘golden boot’.

Fylde also made the play-offs despite a 3-1 defeat at Tamworth who were hot on the heels on Boston.

The Coasters then defeated Harrogate Town 2-1 at Kellemergh Park while Tamworth’s hopes were ended after defeat on the penultimate weekend of the season.

Fylde travelled to Worcester City for the last game and were cruising by half time, leading 2-0, but the home side hit back to earn a point. The equaliser cost their opponents 2 nd spot and they’ll now take on Harrogate Town instead of Boston United.

Fylde’s goals were scored by Danny Rowe who shared the Division’s top scorer table with Southwell.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United gave a disappointing display at home to improving Stalybridge Celtic, going down 1-0 but came back to win their next game 1-0 at Gainsborough Trinity.

The last game of the season saw them entertain champions Solihull Moors who were about to claim their 10 th away win, leading 2-0 with five minutes left but two Greaves goals, the second in the 92 nd minute, salvaged a point which saw the Reds finish in 13 th spot.

Chorley could only manage a 1-1 draw at lowly Brackley Town but then produced a superb performance at Champions Solihull Moors to win 2-0.

An 89 th minute Stephenson penalty gave the Magpies a last day 2-1 home win against Telford United and a fine 8 th place finish.

In the South Division, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough lost 1-0 at Bath City and after a poor run, lay just four points above the drop zone. They then defeated Gosport Borough 3-0 at home but finished an inconsistent season with a 4-2 defeat at 2 nd placed Ebbsfleet United. The Sports hit back from a 2-0 half time deficit to draw level by the 70 th minute but the defeat saw them finish 17 th, only three points above the relegation places.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Ramsbottom United can’t wait for the season to end and they lost 3-0 at Marine, with the Rams being joined by Colwyn Bay, relegated for the 2 nd season running.

The two demoted clubs then met at the Riverside, sharing four goals, before they ended the campaign with a tremendous 4-0 win at home to Ilkeston.

At the bottom, whipping boys New Mills earned their third point of the season with a 3-3 home draw against Witton Albion and it would have been their first win but for a Rob Hopley hat-trick for the visitors-how Colwyn Bay have missed their ex-striker this term.

The Derbyshire side then lost their final game, 2-0 at Lancaster City to end with one of the worst records at any level of football.

James Dean’s Ashton United clinched their play-off spot with a 1-0 win at Sutton Colefield Town.

A trip to Salford City in the play-offs saw them go out at this stage for the third year running. Salford won 3-1 after extra-time in front of over 800 fans at Moor Lane.

Their opponents in the final were Workington, who defeated long-time leaders Blyth Spartans, 4-3 away from home thanks to a last minute clincher.

A crowd of almost 2,000 witnessed the final, also at Salford where the home side came back from two goals down to win 3-2 thanks to two goals in the final 11 minutes.

Darlington attracted 1,734 fans for their final home game with Grantham Town and they all went home happy after a 2-0 home win and 1,804 rolled up at Whitby Town to see them clinch promotion in style by winning 7-1.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr must be exasperated by the change in form of their Clitheroe side. Through February and March, the Blues won 10, drew 1 and lost 1 and looked well on course for the play-offs but a 2-0 home defeat by Burscough was their 6 th loss in a row since then to end their hopes.

Nevertheless, they finished in their highest-ever position, 7 th, after a 3-2 win at Witton Albion.

Warrington Town clinched promotion in style, beating Prescot Cables 6-1 in front of 1,411 fans at Cantilever Park, Kilheeney notching another two goals.

In the play-offs, Spennymoor Town came from behind to beat Burscough 3-1 while Northwich Victoria overcame Glossop North End 2-1 in the semi-finals.

The North-Easterners then won 2-0 in the final.

Down South, poor old Bashley needed to concede just two goals in their final game in the Evo-stik South & Western Division to avoid the unwanted 200 goals against but lost 4-1 at North Leigh to end the campaign with a record of: Played 42, Won 0, Drawn 2, Lost 40, Goals For 13, Goals Against 201, Points 2.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic look to have come up short with a 2-0 home defeat against Melksham Town all but ending their promotion hopes. A 5-0 home defeat of Sherborne gave them renewed hope but that was followed by a surprise 2-0 home defeat against Longwell Green Sports.

They did end the campaign in fine style to finish in 4 th place with a 4-2 win at Cadbury Heath and a 5-0 home win against Clevedon Town.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Darwen gave their survival hopes a great boost with a 3-0 home win against 2 nd bottom Alsager Town but then went down 1-0 at home to Bootle.

The ‘hot and cold’ form continued, with a tremendous 5-2 win at Runcorn Town followed by a 3-2 home reverse against Ashton Athletic, and that despite taking the lead, a defeat which saw them drop into the bottom three.

Both Colne and leaders Runcorn Linnets won as the title race comes to its conclusion. Linnets defeated Squires Gate 2-0 while Colne thrashed Ashton Athletic 6-2 at Holt House.

The Reds then hammered Winsford United 5-0 at the Barton Stadium while Runcorn were held to a 1-1 draw at Nelson.

A tough home game against Atherton Collieries then saw them drop two points after a 1-1 draw in front of over 300 fans and even better crowd of 349, then saw them defeat Bootle 1-0 courtesy of an 86 th minute Nangle goal.

A late penalty gave Linnets a narrow 2-1 home win against 1874 Northwich to keep the title race wide open.

A 90 th minute equaliser for AFC Liverpool then denied Colne the three points while Linnets were beaten 1-0 at Bootle before winning 3-2 at lowly Squires Gate.

A 3-0 home win against Cammell Laird, in front of another 300+ crowd, then kept Colne a point of the leaders and still with a game in hand. Boyle and Hart were both on target again, Hart’s strike being his 33 rd goal of the season and had he remained at Clitheroe, there’s little doubt that Simon Garner’s side would have made the play-offs.

Nelson, meanwhile, were then well beaten 3-0 at Abbey Hey before an exciting 3-3 draw at Atherton Collieries. The Blues had led 2-0 and 3-1 before being pegged back.

Another draw followed, 1-1 at home to Maine Road.

Barnoldswick Town won 2-0 at Bootle to move safely into mid-table and then picked up another two points after home draws, 2-2 against Ashton Athletic and 0-0 against Abbey Hey. The unbeaten run continued with a 3-0 win at bottom side Blackpool but finally ended with a 3-0 home defeat against West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Padiham drew 1-1 with Runcorn Town at the Arbories before beating Congleton Town 4-3 at the same venue. That was followed by a 2-0 win at Alsager Town. They then twice came from behind to defeat Ashton Athletic 4-2 away from home and made it four in a row with a 2-1 home win against Abbey Hey.

In Division One, Bacup Borough beat bottom side Whitchurch Alport 7-2 at West View, keeping their outside chance of the play-offs still alive but they appeared to be over after a 1-0 home defeat against Irlam.

The inconsistent form continued, coming from a 1-0 half-time deficit to win 4-1 against Holker Old Boys, losing 4-0 at St. Helens Town before beating Ashton Town 2-1 away thanks to an 89 th minute winner.

Rochdale Town, A.K.A.Castleton Gabriels, have always struggled to attract any sort of crowd and one wonders why they carry on at this level after drawing a pityful 11 spectators to their home game with Ashton Town, which they won 2-0.

17 spectators then turned out for the next game against Widnes which they lost 3-1.

At the bottom of the table, Whitchurch Alport have endured a torrid first season at this level, and their woes continued with a 10-0 thrashing at St. Helens with the first nine goals coming in the opening hour.

That defeat followed a 7-0 hammering at Bacup Borough and was followed by a 7-2 home loss against Stockport Town.

Always good to see teams who’ve struggled in recent years coming back strongly and Leek County School Old Boys fall into that category.

Great Harwood Town have had many tough games against them during our NWCFL days but unlike us, instead of folding, they dropped down to the Staffs. County League and this season has seen them brush aside the opposition to lead the Division by 19 points. They not only have the most wins, least defeats, most goals scored and have conceded an incredibly low total of 18 goals in 30 games. The title was clinched with a 3-1 win against Cheadle SMU.

Early April

The month started off with me making a surprise birthday trip to the Camp Nou for the El-Classico between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It was great to be amongst a record 99,000+ crowd though the evening was somewhat spoiled by Christian ‘I love myself’ Ronaldo scoring the winner.

The game brought back memories of the ‘El-Lankassico’ between the mighty Robins and Stanley in the Hyndburn Cup but the atmosphere certainly didn’t match the ones at the Showground and the Crown.

Quite an eventful few days for Harwood legend Matt Derbyshire at the start of the month.

He helped his Rotherham United side defeat Leeds United at the New York Stadium, making it a fantastic league double over one of the biggest clubs in the country.

In a game where the visitors dominated the possession, The Millers took the lead after half an hour and Matt almost made it 2-0 just after the break but his effort was blocked.

15 minutes later he was controversially sent off for ‘leading with the arm’ during an ariel challenge but the decision was later rescinded by the League.

Leeds then enjoyed an even greater amount of possession and the pressure told as they equalised and then looked for the winner but it was Rotherham who supplied the sucker-punch with a last minute penalty decider, making it five wins and a draw in their last six games.

With the red card overturned, Matt led the attack in the vital ‘six-pointer’ at Bristol City and he gave his side the lead after only 12 minutes when he latched onto a though-ball over the home defence and lobbed the keeper.

The Robins came back strongly after the break, equalising in the 54 th minute to share the points although soon afterwards, a cross found Matt at the back post with a great chance to score his second. Unfortunately, his wild effort ended up nearer the corner flag than the goal and he was subbed a couple of minutes later. Nevertheless, the draw suited Rotherham more than Bristol.

Another six-pointer came next, at M.K. Dons, and Matt set the scene with a first minute goal which led to a fantastic 4-0 win. With the Reds 3-0 up, he was substituted on 78 minutes but the three points left them nine clear of Milton Keynes and just about safe against all the odds.

Andy Procter made the usual bench warming for the visit of Cambridge United to the Crown Ground but the Reds could only manage a 1-1 draw and despite the result extending heir unbeaten run to six, they slipped to 5 th place.

They were soon back up to 3 rd after a terrific 2-0 win at Luton Town where a fine following of 123 saw their heroes stake their place for automatic promotion

Don Fitzgerald’s Wimbledon enjoyed one of their best performances and results of the season by winning 2-1 at promotion-chasing Wycombe Wanderers with the points taking them up to 9 th.

That was surpassed in the next game at 3 rd placed Plymouth Argyle where they moved up two more places thanks to a 2-1 success. After that game, it appeared to be six teams going for the vital 7 th place.

In the Vanarama National League, Paul Salt’s Altrincham are in deep trouble after two disappointing results at the start of the month. The Robins could only draw at bottom side Kidderminster Harriers with the home side’s goal coming in the 89 th minute, and they then lost 2-1 to Dover despite leading at the break. Ex-Boston star Ricky Miller scoring one of the goals which sent Alty down to 22 nd.

A home game against Bromley brought little joy as they were held to a goalless draw.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot lost 1-0 at home to Barrow and then 4-3 at home to Grimsby Town thanks to a late Mariners winner. The Shots looked to be well on their way to a fine victory at the break, leading 2-0 before the defence collapsed.

Paul then made the long trek up to the Shay with another 100+ following and the long journey home was well worth it after a 2-0 win.

Southport were trailing 2-0 at home to Woking with less than 15 minutes remaining but they fought back to earn a point and then defeated Boreham Wood 2-0 away from home.

In the North Division, I missed out on Boston United’s trip to Phil O’Dell’s FC United due to my trip to Barcelona and it was the Pilgrims who made it four wins from four visits to FC thanks to a 2-1 win.

I did manage to see the next game at home to Bradford Park Avenue where a comfortable 3-0 success made it three wins in a row.

The Yorkshire side’s cause wasn’t helped by having to field an on-loan striker in goal due to injuries and holidays.

FC United then won 3-2 at bottom side Corby Town.

Fylde’s chances of winning the league were just about over after draws at Brackley, 0-0, and Stalybridge Celtic, 1-1, results that left them 13 points behind leaders Solihull and their hopes were extinguished after a 3-2 home defeat against rivals North Ferriby United.

Chorley’s chances of a play-off spot all but ended with a 2-1 defeat at Tamworth, the Magpies goal coming in the final minute but they did hit back in the next game, beating Gainsborough Trinity 3-1 at Victory Park.

In the Vanarama South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough look destined for a mid-table finish because their inability to string a together a run of wins and despite leading 1-0 at half time in the game at Sutton United, they went down 2-1.

It was a case of ‘deja-vu’ in the next game as they led Hemel Hemstead Town at home but eventually went down 3-2 thanks to a 92 nd minute winner which took Town into the play-offs spots and drop Borough down to 15 th.

Rivals Margate, are preparing for a Summer exodus after their millionaire benefactor decided to leave after a disappointing season which sees them just three points above the drop zone. He has already put millions of pounds into the club but without his backing, there’s no way that they can afford the £1,000+ a week that players are currently earning at the club.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Ramsbottom United lost 4-1 at second bottom Colwyn Bay who also looked destined for the drop, their second relegation in successive seasons. Those goals made it 100 conceded for the Rams and they looked on course for another heavy defeat at Matlock Town as the Gladiators led 2-0 after only 10 minutes but that was how it ended.

Two 1 st half goals then gave Halesowen Town a 2-0 victory at the Riverside and that los confirmed relegation for the Blues.

Colwyn Bay joined the Rams after relegation was confirmed after a 4-1 home thrashing by Whitby Town.

At the top, leaders Blyth Spartans found themselves 3-0 down at Ilkeston despite being the better side but a goal just before the break gave them hope. Before the hour mark they’d pulled it back to 3-2 but with a minute of normal time left, that was still the score but an 89 th minute goal looked to give them a point until a 98 th minute winner gave them the most unlikely of wins.

Next time out they hit another four away goals at Hyde United with all the goals coming in the 2 nd half, 4-0 the final score.

Those results must have convinced their supporters that the title was going to be theirs but the next game saw a 2-1 home defeat by Skelmersdale United and coupled with Darlington’s 2-0 win at Grantham Town, the ex-Football League side now look to be in pole position. Darlo then entertained Skem and after beating them, moved to the top of the table and still with a game in hand. The 3-0 success was watched by another terrific crowd, 1,296.

James Dean set up the second goal for Ashton United but they still went down 3-2 at home to Stourbridge and was then missing through injury as they hosted another promotion rival, Salford City, who strolled to a 3-0 win.

He was back for the game at Rushall Olympic and opened the scoring after five minutes and the Robins went on to win 2-0 to lift them up to 4 th and an almost certain play-off spot.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe had hit poor form just at the wrong time. The ex-Great Harwood Town pair ended March with a devastating 6-1 defeat at Burcough and that represented a great damage-limitation exercise after they found themselves 6-0 down after only 35 minutes.

A home game against Ossett Albion saw them well beaten 3-1 and the next home game a few days later saw another comprehensive defeat, 4-1 against Bamber Bridge.

Their hopes were just about ended after yet another defeat, 2-0 at Farsley Celtic, leaving them 7 points behind with just three games to go.

The next game saw their hopes ended with yey another defeat, 4-3 at home to Brighouse Town despite two Mayers goals.

After the game the management duo announced that they would be leaving the club at the end of the season.

At the bottom, New Mills lost 9-0 at home to 2 nd placed Spennymoor United before losing 4-0 at lowly Radcliffe Borough and 3-1 at home to Lancaster City.

In the Evo-stik Southern League, South and West Division, Bashley lost 5-2 at home to Marlow and that meant that they had to avoid conceding 14 goals in their final four games to stave off the embarrassment of ‘200’ in the goals against column.

Oh dear!! Things didn’t go to plan as they lost 9-0 at Tiverton Town.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Padiham suffered an embarrassing 7-0 home defeat against 1874 Northwich with Beadle notching five. A few days later they hit back in style, defeating Alsager Town 6-3, also at the Arbories.

Another fine result followed, 2-2 at AFC Liverpool.

Barnoldswick Town led 2-0 at Ashton Athletic in front of a ‘crowd’ of just 30 but the majority of those went home happy as the home side stormed back to win 4-2.

Darwen conceded their 100 th league goal of the season as they lost 2-0 at Congleton Town and that result saw them drop into the relegation spots.

They then surprised 4 th placed 1874 Northwich, winning 3-2 at Winsford’s Barton Stadium although the home side also had a Cheshire Cup game on the previous evening.

Those three points moved the Salmoners above Blackpool and out of the bottom three.

Two days later they hosted leaders Runcorn Linnets who won thanks to two first half goals from Potter.

At the other end of the table, Colne lost 3-2 at Bootle. Trailing 3-0, they hit back with goals in the 65 th and 67 th minutes and at that stage they must have been hopeful of earning at least a point but sadly they couldn’t level.

They hit back in the next game at Abbey Hey, winning 3-1 to leave themselves 5 points behind the leaders with one game in hand.

That gap closed to two points as a crowd of 554 saw them defeat their rivals 2-0 at Holt House with both goals coming after the break.

Nelson lost 1-0 at Blackpool and 2-0 at home to 1874 Northwich.

In the 1 st Division, Bacup Borough thrashed bottom club Whitchurch Alport 5-1 in Shropshire before defeating Eccleshall 3-1 at West View with all the goals coming in the 1 st half. Brent Peters’ boys lie 4 points behind the play-off places but with four games in hand.

Whipping boys Whitchurch beat 2 nd bottom Atherton L.R.

Poor old Rochdale Town drew just 18 spectators for their 3-0 home win against Northwich Manchester Victoria.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic hammered visitors Bitton 4-0 before earing a fine point in a 2-2 draw at Bristol Manor Farm. It was good news all round as their Homer’s Heath ground was passed fit for the Southern League. Their hopes of finishing in a high enough position took a blow as they were beaten 2-0 at mid-table Shepton Mallet but they hit back in the following game, winning 2-0 at Brislington before a crowd of 55 which included 15 Bucks fans.

Just 32 supporters turned up for the next game at Hallen where Buckland trailed 1-0 at the break despite bossign the 45 minutes. Thankfully Nick’s boys made the pressure tell after the re-start and ran out 3-1 winners to move up to 4 th.

Late March

I took in the 2 nd half of the Great Harwood Town v Haslingden game at Accrington College. The two ex-NWCFL sides served up a fine 45 minutes with Harwood equalising late on after falling behind in the opening period. The goal came about when a through ball into the box was volleyed into his own net by a defender. Both sides pressed for the winner with Harwood coming closest and Haslingden wasting several promising situations. Marc Baron, nephew of the area’s non-league legend and ex-Robin Neil, was outstanding throughout and not only does he look like Neil, he’s built like him and plays like him!

The referee came in for plenty of ‘stick’ from the home supporters and players after waving away appeals for a penalty which looked nailed on and the crack on the Harwood forward’s leg could be heard on Accrington market!

Another great effort from Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United saw them win 1-0 at play-off chasing Ipswich Town. 344 away fans saw Matt set up the goal for Best on 44 minutes, a result which took them up to 20 th.

Andy Procter’s appearances for Accrington Stanley have been as rare as hen’s teeth lately but he did manage a late cameo in the game at Conference-bound Daganham & Redbridge where a late Kee goal gave them the points in a 1-0 win.

He then remained on the touchline as Stanley, in front of a season’s best 2,783, beat close rivals Leyton Orient 1-0 at the Crown leaving the Reds just a single point outside of the automatic promotion spots.

They further enhanced their chances as two goals in two minutes from Kee and Windass gave them a 2-0 victory at Rodney Parade against Newport County, Andy once again not needed.

Don Fitzgerald’s Wimbledon struggled again, at home to lowly York City who led at the break and although the Dons equalised, it took a 93 rd minute 30 yard volley from Reeves to give them the three points.

A trip to lowly Hartlepool gave them the chance to move a point outside of the play-off spots but the inconsistancy continued with a 1-0 defeat.

In the Vanarama Premier, Paul Clark fortunately missed Aldershot’s trip to Paul Salt’s Altrincham, who thrashed their visitors from Hampshire 4-0.

Despite the scoreline, the game was a very close affair, apart from the goals, and the three points took the Robins out of the drop-zone.

He then made the trip to 2 nd placed Forest Green Rovers, just a point from the top, more in hope than expectation but against all the odds they ground out a goalless draw and indeed were the better side in the 1 st half.

Another tough game followed two days later with highly-placed Braintree Town the visitors to the ‘Rec’ and things looked bleak as the ‘Iron’ led at the break but the Shots hit back to gain a superb 2-1 win.

Altrincham, meanwhile, travelled to Halifax Town and swapped placed with them after a 1-0 defeat. Alty stayed out of the drop-zone on goal difference only because of Torquay United’s 5-0 defeat.

That repreive lasted just a couple days as they were held to a one all draw by Southport at Moss Lane and slipped down a place.

Before that draw, the Sandgrounders were more than good enough for a victory at Torquay United but the Gulls stole it 1-0 to move out of the bottom four.

Manager Dino Mamaria has resigned because of the distance involved running the side, he lives in Hertfordshire and was desperate to spend more time with his family. Dino was the club’s seventh manager in three years.

The Sandgrounders then defeated Guiseley 2-0 at Haig Avenue to ease their relegation worries.

In the North Division, more woe for Boston United who went down again after a last minute goal gave North Ferriby United a 2-1 win at York Street.

Another home game, this time against 3 rd bottom Brackley gave them a perfect opportunity to record a rare victory but despite dominating for long periods, the result was the same, another 2-1 defeat.

Despite the Pilgrims being bottom of the recent form table for several weeks, almost 170 fans made the trip to 5 th placed Tamworth and were rewarded with a 2-1 win.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United moved into mid-table after a tremendous 1-0 success at Alfreton Town and followed that up with a 2-0 home win against Chorley in front of a record League crowd of 4,150.

The defence then made it three clean sheets in a row, the Reds drawing at Curzon Ashton in front of just under 1700, mainly FC fans.

James Dean has moved to Ashton United on loan until the end of the season but the Magpies still had little difficulty in beating visitors Curzon Ashton 2-0 but their march up the table was halted at Bradford Park Avenue after a 1-0 defeat. Another defeat at the afore-mentioned FC United left them still on the edge of the play-offs.

The Magpies were then held to a goalless draw by Stalybrdge Celtic at Victory Park.

AFC Fylde trailed for 79 minutes at home to Nuneaton Town but goals in the 81 st and 89 th minutes looked to have given them another win before the visitors shared the points thanks to a 94 th minute equaliser.

They then led 1-0 at home to Bradford Park Avenue before the game was abandoned after 33 minutes because of strong winds and torrential rain.

A trip to Stockport County who were hoping for a good finish to the season to make the play-offs proved to be a walk in the ‘Edgeley’ Park as they eased to a 4-0 win.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough moved up to 10 th after a 2-0 home win against Chelmsford City but blew the chance to move further up the table after a 3-1 defeat at 3 rd bottom St. Albans Town. They were then held to a 2-2 draw at home to Havant & Waterlooville.

In the Evo-stik Premier, the afore-mentioned James Dean hit the winner for Ashton United in their promotion battle at Stourbridge. Deano had an eventful game, being fouled for the penalty which gave them the lead, setting up Chadwick whose shot was saved, and scoring the second with a left foot shot on 43 minutes.

The home side were on an 11 match unbeaten run and the result saw the Robins move above their hosts into 5 th place.

He then helped Ashton to another home win, 2-1 against Ilkeston, although the game was very one-sided and not reflected in the scoreline.

On 19 minutes he forced a great save out of the visiting keeper who also saved the rebound but was beaten by the thrid shot from Chadwick. Before half time it was a case of deja-vu as his effort was again saved by the man-of-the-match but the rebound was slammed into the back of the net.

Deano was on the mark again, hitting the opener after an hour at local rivals Hyde United on Easter Monday and that opened the floodgates for a 4-0 win.

Ramsbottom United’s slide towards relegation shows few signs of stopping although they really should have got something from their game at Mickleover Sports.

A magnificent 35-yard equaliser from Meanes coupled with a 60 th minute sending of for Sports, gave them the advantage but Edgehill headed over from just three yards in the 77 th minute and two goals in the final 10 minutes meant yet another defeat.

The Rams then drew 1-1 at home to Marine before another lost opportunity at Sutton Coldfield Town where they led twice before being pegged back in the 90 th minute.

A massive 763 turned out for the local derby against Salford City at the Riverside but the Rams were well beaten 4-0.

Darlington are putting the pressure on leaders Blyth Spartans, winning 5-0 in front of 512 fans at Nantwich Town, whose own play-off chances look to have gone after this latest defeat.

The three points moved Darlo to within one point of Spartans with two games in hand but the gap widened after Blyth beat Workington 3-0 at home.

In the 1 st Division North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe moved into the play-off positions after a 3-1 triumph at Harrogate R.I. and built on that success with a superb 3-0 home win against 3 rd placed Glossop North End in front of over 300 fans. Hero of the day was hat-trick man Louis Mayers who’s obviously inherited some of the talent from his Dad Kenny who was one of the area’s top non-league players for a couple of decades.

Another 300+ crowd turned out for the home game against Kendal Town but the Blues were thwarted by a determined defence who held out for a goalless draw.

A 90 th minute Mayers goal then gave them a 1-0 win at Bamber Bridge.

Great news for Droylsden at last, their 4-0 home win against Bamber Bridge was their first clean sheet for a year though they were then beaten 4-0 at Witton Albion.

The next game saw them entertain Radcliffe Borough and looked well on course for their second big win in a week, leading 3-0 with 20 minutes remaining but the visitors stormed back to earn a point.

Warrington Town have almost clinched the title thanks to a 3-0 win at Prescot Cables with the unstoppable Ciarran Kilheeney notching two more.

A surprise 2-1 defeat at lancaster City followed but they were soon back on track with a 4-2 home win at home to Witton Albion.

What a game at Mossley where visitors Harrogate R.A. led 3-2 in the 90 th minute only for the Whites to hit three goals for a 5-3 win.

We’ve been following the trials and tribulations of Bashley who earned just their second point of the season with a 0-0 home draw against Slimbridge, even more remarkable considering they’d conceded 162 goals so far, but the result still saw them relegated.

The next game saw an embarrassing 11-0 defeat at Taunton Town before a 5-0 reverse at Swindon Supermarine to leave the goals-against column at 178.

Folkestone Invicta wrapped up promotion from the Ryman Division One South after a 6-0 home win against Walton & Hersham.

In Division One South, Hasting United star Billy Medlock hit the first five goals in his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Peacehaven & Telscombe and that made it 22 league goals in 30 appearances.

Good news for the NWCFL as no fewer than seven clubs have applied to join the competition next season.

In the Premier Division, Darwen lost 3-1 at home to Congleton Town but led 1-0 at the break, also at home, to Winsford United by the time I arrived at the ground, but goals in the 88 th and 90 th minutes gave the visitors an unlikely win.

Nelson were the next side to put the Salmoners to the sword, winning 3-1 at the Anchor and yet another home defeat looked on the cards at home to Abbey Hey. I was part of the 100+ crowd who saw the visitors lead 1-0 at the lead mainly thanks to a very strong wind blowing down the pitch.

The second half saw ‘biblical’ rainfall which left much of the surface covered by pools of water but Darwen played some excellent football and were unlucky to find themselves two down after a breakaway goal.

Undeterred, they fought on and after pulling one back, equalised in the 90 th minute before being indebted to their goalkeeper who made a fabulous save in the last minute with the ball arrowing towards the bottom corner.

Yet another home game followed two days later and the winless run went on as Padiham won 2-1 in front of 171 fans.

Two 1 st half goals gave Barnoldswick Town a 2-0 win at Abbey Hey before losing 2-1 at home to local rivals Colne in front of an attendance of 270 but then defeated another local side, Nelson, 3-1 in front of 215.

The Admirals had previously drawn 1-1 at AFC Liverpool but then lost 1-0 at home to Congleton Town.

That win for Colne followed a 1-1 home draw against 1874 Northwich, in front of 238 fans before they won 2-1 against Silsden, also at Holt House.

Padiham won 3-1 at Bootle and 4-1 at Winsford United before their Easter victory at Darwen.

The Runcorn derby saw hosts Linnets defeat Town 2-1 in front of 580 fans.

In the 1 st Division, Bacup Borough lost 1-0 at home to Chadderton in front of only 29 spectators at West View and things didn’t get much better as they then entertained St. Helens Town who led 3-0 after only 12 minutes. Brent Peters’ boys then pulled two goals back before the break and earned a point after Barlow completed his hat-trick 22 minutes from time. 41 saw that game and 58 turned out for the next one against Widnes where an incredible 1 st half saw Bacup lead 6-0 and that’s how it stayed.

Just 17 fans saw Rochdale Town beat Whitchurch Alport 5-1 and things got even worse for the visitors, losing their next game 11-1 at Barnton. Smith took an hour to notch a hat-trick but fellow forward Towey managed three goals in injury time to take his game’s total to five.

18 supporters turned out for ‘dale’s next home game and they saw plenty of goals again, a 4-3 win against Holker Old Boys.

Eccleshall led visitors Cheadle Town 3-1 just before the hour mark but Liam Tongue hit a 21 minute hat-trick to help Town to a 5-3 win. Just a pity that only 34 fans saw it.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic look like they maybe coming up short in their quest to earn promotion from the Western Premier League.

Two very tough home games, against leaders Odd Down, and then 3 rd placed Willand Rovers yielded just a single point was to leave the Bucks in 6 th spot.

A 2-1 defeat in the 1 st game was followed by a 1-1 draw in the 2 nd with the only consolation, a terrific attendance of 191. The Bucks had come from behind despite going down to ten men.

A Devon derby on Easter Monday ended in more disappointment, a 2-1 defeat at Barnstaple Town but they ended the month well, beating Cadbury Heath 3-1 at home.

The fixture list for April sees them with 10 fixtures to squeeze in.

Nick was then amongst a terrific turn-out of 600 to see the the Reserves take on Walden in the Herald Cup Final but his boys went down 1-0.

Early March

Matt Derbyshire was the hero for Rotherham United in their massive South Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough against rejuvenated Sheffield Wednesday.

He created the game’s first chance, setting up strike-partner Ward for a ‘sitter’ but he blazed wide with just the keeper to beat.

Matt showed him how to do it when he tapped home a 21 st minute cross from a yard out to silence the majority of the near-29,000 crowd.

Another fantastic result followed three days later as 2 nd placed Middlesborough were beaten by the same score at the New York Stadium. Matt didn’t feature too much as ‘Boro controlled the majority of the game and missed several chances before an 88 th minute winner gave the Millers another massive three points.

Matt was injured after 17 minutes and booked on 39 after a bad foul and apart from a few fouls and being caught offside a few times featured little.

Another of the play-off contenders, Derby County, were the next visitors and after a goalless 1 st half, the Rams took control and stormed into a three-goal lead which they held till just seven minutes from the end. By that time Matt had been subbed and watched from the bench as Rotherham pulled a goal back. Two minutes later it was 2-3 and in the 1 st minute of added time the Millers incredibly levelled to earn a priceless point.

Matt came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 1 st half when a defender’s clearance ricocheted off him and flew just the wrong side of the post.

The Rams’ goals, which all came in a ten minute spell shortly after the break looked to have eased them to victory before the amazing finish.

Andy Procter’s Accrington Stanley were justifiably agreived after their goalless draw at Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon. As the 1 st half came to an end, Billy Kee lashed the ball into the Dons net but the referee blew for time AFTER he shot and disallowed the ‘goal’.

On 88 minutes the Stanley keeper Ross Etheridge was judged to have handled outside of the box, although he disputed that, and was sent off.

Two things that we all see every week. When added time is complete, a free-kick or corner is always allowed to be taken and the referee doesn’t blow until the ball is either put into the net or cleared away.

Every game sees the keeper stood right on the edge of the penalty area before throwing it long, and still touching the ball when it’s a yard outside of the box-NEVER picked up by the linesman.

Wimbledon came closest to winning the game when Smith hit the post on 79 minutes.

Andy was an unused sub. again as the Reds entertained promotion rivals Portsmouth but the visitors had the game sewn up after building up a 3-0 lead in the 1 st half. Stanley pulled one back late on but the result saw Pompey up to 4 th and Accy down to 6 th.

Another tough home game followed as Plymouth Argyle came to town and it looked like a second home defeat in four days as the visitors led 1-0 with only five minutes remaining but Stanley equalised before taking all three points with a 93 rd minute decider. Andy once more unused.

Wimbledon, meanwhile, lost ground after a 3-1 reverse at Bristol Rovers and a 2-1 defeat at Morecambe.

In the Vanarama National League, Paul Salt’s Altrincham dropped into the relegation places after a goalless home draw with Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town and there wasn’t too much to get the 2,000+ crowd excited.

They were soon back in action at Moss Lane but lost 3-2 to Gateshead to leave them deep in trouble. That prompted Manager Lee Sinnott to resign. A tough trip to Barrow again failed to yield any points despite the Robins taking the lead. They eventually went down 3-2 to keep them in the drop zone.

Paul Clark made the long, fruitless journey to Lincoln City where Aldershot put in a poor performance in losing 2-0.

Undeterred, Paul made the midweek trip to Chester and after only 45 minutes his team were 6-1 down, eventually losing 8-2.

Alabi, who had scored just two career goals, hit four in the opening period.

The attendance of 1,425 was Chester’s lowest since their re-forming six years ago and the win was their biggest in that time.

A home game against Torquay United followed where the defence performed rather better to earn a point in a goalless draw.

Southport gained one of their best results of the season by winning 2-1 at Dover but then lost to a 91 st minute goal at home to Halifax Town, a win that took the Tykes out of the drop zone.

Next up was a tough looking trip to Grimsby Town where a 1 st minute goal by ex-Stanley ace Amond sent the Sandgrounders another 1-0 defeat although they came back strong in the 2 nd half.

A home game against second bottom Welling looked to be heading their way, leading 3-0 on the hour mark but the Wings stormed back with three unanswered goals in the final 16 minutes.

In the Vanarama North, I made the short trip to AFC Fylde to see Boston United well beaten 5-2, completing the ‘double’ for the Coasters after their comfortable 3-0 win at York Street earlier in the season.

Once again Flyde were hugely impressive, playing the ball from the back throughout the game.

That win followed a 1-1 draw at another play-off rival, Nuneaton Town.

A home game against bottom side Corby Town gave the Whites a great opportunity of another big win but it took a late goal to seal the points with the visitors hitting a last minute goal to make it 2-1.

Another victory followed at Phil O’Dells’ FC United, once again, 2-1 was the score.

That followed the Reds fine 0-0 draw against improving Worcester City at Aggborough and did even better three days later, winning 2-1 at table-toppers Solihull Moors. That lifted them five places to 14 th.

Telford have shown promotion form of late and a 2-0 home win against Chorley took them out of the bottom three. With the Magpies two down at the break, it was somewhat of a surprise that Deano remained on the bench throughout.

The previous game, a 1-1 draw at Gloucester City, saw him absent altogether.

Boston, meanwhile, made another long trip to Lancashire to face Chorley, and I made another short trip to follow them. despite a close contest, Chorley scored at the end of each half to take the points. James Dean once again on the bench.

He did appear in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy at the Macron where the Magpies twice came from behind against Lancaster City to take the game to penalties. He deflected in the first equaliser and his second half replacement, Stephenson, hit the second.

Chorley won the game 3-1 in the shoot-out in front of a healthy 1,495 although the Dollyblues were unlucky not to have won the game after 90 minutes.

In the South Division, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough moved up to 10 th after a 2-0 home win against Hayes & Yeading although the game was in the balance until the 2 nd goal after 94 minutes.

A trip to Hemel Hempstead Town gave Boro the chance to move up to 7 th but a single goal was enough to take the hosts above Mike’s boys who sank to 11 th.

A 1-1 draw at Bishop’s Stortford left them in mid-table.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, two goals in the opening 21 minutes gave Ashton United a victory at Ramsbottom United and although the Blues picked up a point in their next home game, 2-2 against Grantham Town, wins are vital if they’re to reduce the 13 point gap between themselves and safety.

Another home game soon followed but visitors Nantwich Town eased to a 4-1 victory to leave the home sdie 13 points from safety with 11 games left.

Simon Garner and Ryan Parr went through the whole range of emotions in their game at Brighouse Town. The three points looked to be in the bag with the Blues 3-0 up after only 19 minutes but Town fought back to make it 3-2 just past the hour mark. It looked as though they’d hold on but an 88 th minute equaliser had the managerial duo totally despondent. Thankfully, Gonzalez saved the day with the winner in the third minute of added time.

Another home win, 2-1 against Radcliffe Borough, left them in 7 th place and just a point outside the play-off positions and a 2-0 home win against Witton Albion strengthened their position.

Droylsden’s defensive woes continued with another 6-0 thrashing, this time at Farsley Celtic. Could things get any worse for the Bloods? YES!! A home game against top of the table Warrington Town who smashed the hosts 9-0 with ex-Droylsden star Kilheeney completing a hat-trick with two injury time goals, taking his season’s tally to 27. That made it 96 goals scored so far this season and already a record total and the points taking them 19 points clear of the ‘pack’.

Most of the nine strikes were caused by home defenders trying to play from the back and losing possession.

The next home game against Brighouse Town produced another dodgey defensive display but they did halt a run of seven defeats with a morale-boosting 4-3 win.

The evening of the 9-0 result saw two other extraordinary scores with Spennymoor Town moving up to 2 nd after a 9-0 win at bottom side New Mills.

The supporters at Kendal Town saw a ten-goal thriller as the home side threw away a 3-0 and then 4-1 lead against Prescot Cables. After 57 minutes Twon led 3-0 and despite Cables pulling on back, with just 25 minute left, it was 4-1. Goals in the 70 th, 73 rd and 74 th minutes for the visitors left the game in the balance at 4-4 but Sam Bailey’s hat-trick goal five minutes from time appeared to seal the points for Kendal but an equaliser a minute from times saw the points shared.

Poor old Bashley are having similar defensive problems as Droylsden and New Mills, conceding seven more at Didcot Town to leave their ‘against’ total at 162 after 34 games.

What a game in the South as Aylesbury looked on course for a rare win, leading Potters Bar Town 4-1 at the break but after pulling one goal back, two more in the 86 th and 92 nd minutes saved a point for the visitors. The one that the Ducks claimed did take them out of the bottom two although they must have been ‘gutted’ at the final whistle.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Padiham took a surprise lead at Runcorn Linnets but the leaders hit back to win 3-1.

The Storks then gained a fine point after a 1-1 home draw against Atherton Colls.

They then trailed 2-0 at AFC Blackpool before an 85 th minute goal gave them a lifeline and a 90 th minute spot-kick gave them an unlikely share of the spoils.

Two 1 st half goals were enough to give Colne an excellent 2-1 win at Runcorn Town, a result that left Colne in 3 rd and Town in 7 th. A derby at home to Barnoldswick Town proved to be no problem as the Reds eased to a 4-0 win.

A break from League action saw them reach the final of the MEN United Cup, beating Blackpool 2-0 thanks to two 1 st half goals from Jason Hart and he then hit the only goal of the East Lancs. derby at Nelson in front of a terrific turn-out of 378. Those three points left them 8 behind Runcorn Linnets with two games in hand.

Barnoldswick led visitors Runcorn Linnets 1-0 at the break before conceding two unanswered goals after the re-start. They then drew their Yorkshire derby, 0-0 at home to Silsden.

Bottom side Alsager Town looked to be well on course for a rare success, leading Squires Gate 3-0 at home after only 39 minutes but the Seasiders hit back to salvage a point.

Nelson were beaten 2-1 at Ashton Athletic before the home defeat to Colne.

Darwen took the lead at Atherton Collieries before going down 6-1 and then lost 4-2 at Cammell Laird.

2 nd placed Colls then entertained leaders Linnets who moved 10 points clear after a 2-0 win in front of a magnificent turn-out of 570.

In the 1 st Division, Bacup Borough lost 3-0 at Daisy Hill.

Down in the Western League Premier Division, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic are making great strides on and off the pitch.

Work is being carried out on the ground, such as a perimiter fence and toilet block in an effort to get it up to Southern League standard should the Bucks gain promotion. On the pitch, the club are taking on all-comers at every level with Nick seeing his side beat one of their main title rivals, Bristol Manor Farm, 4-3 at Homers Heath. A disappointing midweek crowd of 109 witnessed an exciting game where the visitors came back from 4-1 down to almost salvage a point.

The 2 nd team are lying 3 rd in the South Devon League Premier Division and the 3 rd team gained a 2-2 draw at Paignton Villa to take them to the top of the South Devon 1 st Division.

Nick also manged to get to that game where the attendance of 6 (six) included three visiting fans.

Another game that he managed to attend was the Les Phillips Cup game at Hallen where the ‘crowd’ of 37 included 15 Bucks followers.

If those three sides are doing well, then the Buckland Athletic Ladies team must be breaking all records.

They stand at the top of the Devon Women’s League with a record of P8-W8-D0-L0-F130-A5-PTS25

Their three latest victories were 27-1 (best of the season), 20-0 and 13-0 with the season’s lowest win being 9-2 back in October. The team’s leading goalscorer is Laura Gough who’s eight in the last game took her to 100 in all competitions.

The first team then defeated Bridport 2-1 at Homers Heath before travelling to a Gillingham Town side that three days earlier had won 3-1 at leaders Odd Down. It looked to be a tricky game but the Bucks made light weather of it, scoring three times in each half to win 6-0 in front of just 37 fans.

Late February

Great Harwood Town moved up to 2 nd place in the Accrington Combination with an 8-1 win against bottom side Globe Bullough Park.

Slater and Hathaway have scored 23 of 37 goals scored so far.

Matt Derbyshire led the line for Rotherham United in their home game against Brentford and his mis-hit shot gave them the lead after 29 minutes.

He was harshly booked for lifting his shirt during the celebrations but despite conceding an equaliser, the Millers went on to claim a vital 2-1 win.

Andy Procter finally started a game for Accrington Stanley, against Carlisle United at the Crown Ground but the Reds struggled for long periods despite the Cumbrians going down to ten men early on. It was they who took the lead despite the numerical disadvantage but as the 1 st half wore on, Stanley fought their way back in it. Andy had the chance to equalise but he headed wide and in the second period, his goalbound shot was deflected wide. Stanley did equalise but only after they’d also had a man sent off and for the second home game in four days, they drew 1-1 and both sides finished with ten men.

That was followed by a tough-looking trip to Oxford United but the Reds defied the odds to come from a 1-0 half-time deficit to win 2-1 and that despite once again, seeing a man sent off. Andy had to settle for an afternoon warming the bench and thtat’s where he stayed for the foolowing game at home to Barnet. Accy looked odds-on to take the three points, leading 2-0 well inot the 2 nd half but the Bees hit back to take a share of the spoils.

Don Fitzgearald’s AFC Wimbledon went for their 4 th win in a row against Oxford United but went down 2-1.

In the Vanarama Premier, Paul Salt’s Altrincham, one win in nine, were left just three points above the drop zone after a comprehensive 3-0 home defeat against fellow strugglers Chester, one win in eleven, who also missed a penalty. The only consolation for the Robins was the attendance of just under 1500.

Another good turn-out saw the next game against fellow-strugglers Guiseley but despite taking the lead, Alty had to settle for just the one point after a 1-1 draw.

In an interview in the Non League Paper, Chairman Grahame Rowley described his disappointment with the lack of volunteers willing to help the club, a problem that we at Great Harwood, and indeed most non-league clubs, know only too well.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot made the ‘mega-journey’ to Gateshead and things looked rosy when they took a 6 th minute lead but the home side fought back to lead before the Shots levelled before the break.

A hotly disputed winner came in the 51 st minute leaving Paul and his chums with a very long miserable journey home.

The Harwood fan was then unable to make the trip to lowly Welling where a late penalty gave the visitors all three points.

Southport went down 3-1 at Lincoln City and then 3-0 at home to relegation-threatened Boreham Wood.

In the North Division, Chorley went down to a 1-0 home defeat against Gloucester City. James Dean came on from the bench but like his team-mates, couldn’t find a way past a solid defence and in truth, the winning margin should have been wider.

A trip to second bottom Hednesford Town gave them the perfect opportunity to put things right and that’s exactley what they did with a 3-1 win, Deano coming on as a very late sub.

Another of the strugglers, Lowestoft Town, were the Magpies next opponents and a 2-0 win at Victory Park took them up to 8 th place with Deano an unused sub.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United continue to ship the goals in and they were hit for five without reply by 2 nd placed Harrogate Town and that despite the home side going down to 10 men in the 2 nd half.

The Reds then came from behind to beat North Ferriby United 3-2 at home despite trailing at the break.

AFC Fylde went down to a surprise 3-1 defeat at Lowestoft Town and then saw their game at Stalybridge Celtic abandoned after only 13 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch.

Things didn’t improve in the next game where they went down 1-0 at home to Alfreton Town.

That defeat saw them drop down to 4 th with their place being taken by Boston United.

I travelled over to Bradford to see them defeat Park Avenue 2-1 although the Pilgrims were left hanging on for the final half hour after seemingly cruising at 2-0.

They couldn’t build on that win and were held to a 1-1 draw at York Street by Worcester City.

What a game at Stalybridge where improving Celtic looked on course for a big win against bottom side AFC Telford United, leading 5-2 after 55 minutes but the visitors are far from relegated yet, storming back to claim a valuable point, leaving themselves four points from safety with a game in hand.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough had an excellent 2-1 win at high-flying Whitehawk in the Sussex ‘derby’ and then held Dartford to a 1-1 draw at Priory Lane.

A win at Maidenhead United would have taken them within four points of the play-offs but they went down 2-0.

In the Evo-stik Premier, a 92 nd minute equaliser gave Ramsbottom United an unlikely point at home to 2 nd placed Workington at the Riverside.

In the Evo-stik Division One North, fallen ‘giants’ Droylsden show few signs of returning back up the leagues and they lost 8-0 at Brighouse Town which followed an 8-2 reverse at Northwich Victoria just two days earlier. But for some wayward home finishing in both games it could have resulted in double-figure defeats.

Next up, the visit of leaders Warrington Town but thankfully for the home side, the game was rained off.

At the bottom, New Mills led 1-0 at the break at home to Burscough but that first win of the season eluded them as the Linnets hit back to win 2-1.

Talking of the leaders, one of the most bizzare boardroom decisions ever, as hugely successful manager Shaun Reid was told that his contract wouldn’t be renewed at the end of the season. Like at Championship side Brentford, one of the reasons given-we want to move in a different direction-that’ll be down the table then!!!!

Another crazy boardroom blunder appears to have been made at Whitehawk of the Vanarama South, dispensed with another very successful Boss, Steve King.

In his first season as manager two years ago, he helped save the club from relegation and last season took them to the play-off final where they lost in extra-time. This term the club lay 9 points outside of the play-off positions when King was sacked but the Hawks have as many as five games in hand on some of the clubs above them.

The Board was then given their just desserts as Whitehawk were beaten 6-0 at bottom side St. Albans Town.

After New Mills recently ended a 100% losing record this season, South & West side Bashley did the same after 26 defeats. Having already conceded 124 goals, it was almost miraculous that their first point came with a goalless draw against Mangotsfield United.

Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe had the chance to move into the play-off positions with a win at Trafford but hey went down 2-0.

In the South & West Division, Bashley already looked doomed with one point from their opening 30 games and two 6-0 defeats at the end of the month left them with an eye-watering goal-difference of 9 for and 140 against.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Nelson went down 3-1 at home to improving Squires Gate but then claimed a point with a 2-2 draw against Bootle, also at Victoria Park. The Admirals looked on course for another defeat, trailing 2-0 with only 20 minutes left but stormed back to claim a point.

Colne went up to 2 nd spot with a 3-1 win at Silsden but were replaced by the following evening by Atherton Collieries who won 5-1 at home to AFC Liverpool.

Mark Battersby was on fire again, scoring another hat-trick to go with the previous weeks one at Darwen and in between hit the Colls only goal at Abbey Hey.

They then won 2-0 at home to Maine Road before making it through to the semi-finals of the Men United Cup with another 2-0 home success against Eccleshall.

Barnoldswick Town lost 2-0 at Maine Road before drawing 1-1 at home to Congleton Town.

In the semi-finals of the Lancs. Challenge Trophy, Padiham drew 3-3 against Lancaster City before going down 2-0 on penalties.

The Storks then let a 1-0 lead slip at home to West Didsbury & Chorlton before going down 3-1.

Darwen were in danger of dropping into the relegation places but their problems were eased after a 3-0 win with the game being almost settled after two goals in the opening 12 minutes.

In the 1 st Division, Cheadle Town scored eight times in the opening 43 minutes at home to Atherton L.R. but the majority of the 76 supporters must have been slightly disappointed that they could only manage two more after the break, 10-1 the final score. Nevertheless, it was Cheadle’s biggest ever win in the NWCFL and L.R.’s biggest defeat.

Bacup Borough lost 5-1 in the 3 rd round of the Men United Cup at Atherton Collieries with the game being over at half time with Colls already 4-0 up. They then won 1-0 at Litherland REMYCA.

Down in the South West, very sad news for Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic where assistant manager Andy Hill lost his long battle with cancer.

After several postponements, the Bucks finally took to the field and made up for lost time, winning 6-0 at Clevedon Town. A 2-1 home win against Brislington then moved them back up tp 4 th spot in the Western League Premier Division.

Buckland Ladies won 20-0 against Shaldon Villa with Gough hitting NINE!

Early February

Great Harwood Town slipped to 4 th position in the Accrington Combination after the only game to beat the weather saw Bay Horse defeat St. Mary’s College Old Boys 16-0 to move above Harwood.

In the Championship, Matt Derbyshire was restored to the starting line-up by Rotherham United’s new boss Neil Warnock and he looked to be the Millers best bet for a goal as they entertained Birmingham City. Looking to get the better of one his former clubs, he came the closest to breaking the deadlock, sseing his 1 st half blockbuster tipped over by the visiting keeper. On the hour mark he looked to guide the ball in from a cross but the effort was blocked by a defender. The game ended 0-0 and with Rotherham having two players sent off, then that must be reguarded as a point won.

In League One, Andy Procter watched from the bench as his Accrington Stanley side came from a 1-0 half-time deficit to beat Crawley 4-1 at the Crown Ground. He came on after 90 minutes.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon hammered visitors Luton Town 4-1 with all their goals coming in the opening hour.

In the Vanarama National League, Paul Clark’s Aldershot earned a good point thanks to a goalless home draw against ‘upwardly mobile’ Tranmere Rovers altough entertainment was very thin on the ground.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham drew 1-1 at home to Wrexham in front of a healthy 1,261, swelled by around 400 visiting fans. Another home point followed with a 3-3 draw against Linclon City but having led twice, the Robins will have been disappointed not to have claimed all three points.

Southport also drew at home, 0-0 with play-off hopefuls Braintree Town.

In the North Division, Boston United lost again, 3-0 at home to Stalybridge Celtic. The Pilgrims would have gone 2 nd with a win but every game sees new players arrive and a settled side has been missing all season.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United are another side who can find very little consistency and they lost 5-1 at bottom side Telford. The Reds lost their keeper with an injury on 25 minutes and his replacement was sent off just before half-time. They then lost 3-1 at home to Alfreton Town despite leading at the break.

AFC Fylde moved up to 3 rd with a 1-0 home win against Gloucester City.

Chorley won 2-0 at home to Worcester City with James Dean making an appearance from the bench.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough were involved in a thriller at Hayes & Yeading. They took the lead before the home side fought back to make it 2-1. Just after the hour mark the Sports had stormed back to lead 3-2 but penalties in the 66 th and 88 th minutes appeared to have given Hayes the points. Back came Mike’s boys to salvage a point thanks to a 93 rd minute leveller and send the paltry turn-out of 113 home breathless.

The next game, at home to Weston-super-Mare was another cracking affair with the spoils again being shared after a 3-3 draw. Borough had led 2-0 and then 3-2 before a 91 st minute goal denied them maximum points.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Ramsbottom United were 11 points from safety after their latest defeat, 5-0 at leaders Blyth Spartans, whose Kneeshaw scored all the goals. The home side also saw a penalty saved by Rams keeper Shenton.

In the North Division, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe gained the ‘double’ over Scarborough Athletic thanks to a 3-1 win in Yorkshire. That win left them just one point outside the play-offs despite having lost 10 of their 26 games.

Goals galore in the division with bottom side New Mills losing 7-2 at home to Mossley and having been 5-0 down at the break, that score was something of a recovery. Nevertheless, that’s now 97 goals conceded so far.

Northwich Victoria went one better, defeating visitors Droylsden 8-2, Vics having the game sewn up by half time thanks to a 4-0 lead.

Spennymoor Town hammered Kendal Town 6-1 and Glossop North End beat Harrogate R.A. 5-1.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, there were home draws for Barnoldswick Town and Colne, 1-1 against Bootle and 0-0 to Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate.

Padiham led twice at Congleton Town before going down 4-2 while neighbours Nelson had a fine 3-2 home win against Runcorn Town.

Darwen endured a torrid week, conceding 10 goals in two games, losing 7-3 at home to Atherton Collieries, hat-tricks for Battersby and Sherlock, and then 3-1 at leaders Runcorn Linnets.

In the Non-League Paper’s Fantasy League, Great Harwood Town have gone down to 911 th place while the other GHT have moved up to 927 th spot.

 

Late January

Great Harwood Town went through to the next round of the Calvert Cup by beating Bay Horse 5-3 and then took on leaders Black Dog in a game that ended 1-1.

Matt Derbyshire came in for special praise from his manager for his performance against Brighton & Hove Albion at the New York Stadium where the Millers won 2-0.

The first chance of the game fell to the ex-Robin but he fired over. He then set up a chance for Ward before having another shot deflected wide. He then once again set up Ward who headed just wide and on the half-hour mark he set up yey another opportunity for a team-mate.

A great effort was inches wide of the post and he then saw his left-footed shot well saved.

In the second half he again saw his shot well saved before he finally got the goal he deserved by firing in the second goal four minutes from time, a great dinked effort over the keeper and into the top corner.

Another home game followed, against QPR and he made the first chance for Ward who was stopped from getting his effort away by a great last-ditch tackle.

Matt then saw two shots saved before another desperate challenge prevented him from scoring with the ball trickling inches wide.

The second half saw Rangers take control, scoring three times without reply and Matt being kept very quiet, eventually being substituted ten minutes from the end.

He then found himself on the bench for the entire game as United drew 2-2 at Cardiff City.

Surprisingly, that’s where he spent the next game as the Reds entertained fellow strugglers Charlton Athletic who’d gone 11 games without a win. Despite Matt’s team firing in 20 shots, just 4 were on target as they went down to a soul-destroying 4-1 defeat.

In League Two, Accrington Stanley played their first home game for two months and defeated Hartlepool 3-1 with Andy Procter finally making an appearance although it was after 90 minutes.

The Reds then took an early lead at Exeter City but went down 2-1 thanks mainly to some desperate last-ditch defending by the Grecians.

They were soon back on the promotion trail, beating fellow play-off rivals Bristol Rovers 1-0 at the Crown Ground to leave them in 5 th place and with game sin hand on allffour clubs above them but once again Andy failed to appear.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon came back from a 1-0 half time deficit to beat Mansfield Town 3-1 at home and then won 2-0 at Notts County.

Just when it appeared that the Dons were on a roll, they twice let the lead slip at home to equal bottom side Yeovil who recorded a vital 3-2 win.

In the Vanarama, Paul Salt’s Altrincham won 3-1 at home to Woking but were then hammered 5-0 at Grimsby Town to remain 4 th from bottom. Their following game was rained off leaving the Robins two points clear of the drop zone.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot picked up three points thanks to a 3-1 home win against Chester and then collected another maximum haul with a terrific 2-0 win at Macclesfield Town who would have gone 4 th with a win.

The great run continued with a hard-fought 1-0 home win against bottom side Kidderminster Harriers who are now a massive 16 points from safety.

Southport drew 0-0 at Chester but were then beaten 1-0 at Haig Avenue by high-flyers Forest Green Rovers.

An extraordinary game at Barrow where goals in the 82 nd and 87 th minutes gave the Bluebirds a ‘certain’ winning 3-1 lead but Tranmere pulled one back in the last minute, equalised on 92, and scored a sensational winner on 95.

In the North Division, Boston United continued their good form with a hard-fought 3-1 home win against lowly Hednesfrod Town but then blew the chance to go 2 nd after a diappointing performance at Gloucester City where they went down 1-0.

Another of the strugglers, Worcester City produced a surprise result at AFC Fylde, winning 3-2, while James Dean was missing from the Chorley line-up that lost 1-0 at Alfreton Town leaving them stranded in mid-table.

Earlier in the week the Coasters breezed past Skelmersdale United in the FA Trophy replay. A Danny Rowe hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 win.

They then survived a 2 nd half onslaught from bottom side Telford to record a vital 2-1 away win and cement their 4 th position.

Chorley were just three minutes from getting back on track at home to Tamworth before the visitors equalised in front of another loyal home attendance of over 900.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United enjoyed their biggest win of the campaign, 6-1 at home to Lowestoft Town but then lost 4-0 at lowly Brackley Town. The goals continued to flow in their next game at home to 5 th placed Harrogate Town with the Yorkshire side racing into a 3-0 lead within half an hour. Goals just before and just after the break set up a thrilling comeback which saw the Red Rebels lead 4-3 after only 56 minutes and that’s how it stayed .

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough won 3-0 at home to Wealdstone before beating Bath City 5-2, also at home.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Ramsbottom United were thrashed 6-0 at Ashton United and then exited the Doodson Cup after 2-1 defeat at Marine. That was followed by a 3-0 loss at Frickley and a 1-1 draw at Skelmersdale United despite the Blues leading at the break. They then looked to have secured a valuable point at Barwell before an 89 th minute winner sent them back home disappointed once again after a 3-2 defeat.

A crowd, 1,432 turned out to see leaders Blyth Spartans beat Salford City 2-1.

In Division One North, bottom hosted top and New Mills were on course to gain their first point of the season, holding Warrington Town, but five unanswered 2 nd half strikes kept Town on top.

Over 1,000 fans then saw two of the title favourites battle it out and it was Warrington who dished out a rare defeat on Northwich Victoria, 4-2 the score.

Simon Garner and Ryan Parr must be very disappointed as Clitheroe’s woes continue. They were knocked out of the Doodson Cup, two late goals giving Workington a 2-0 home win, and the Blues then lost 1-0 at home to Spennymoor Town.

A trip to struggling Ossett Town saw two goals apiece from Dent and Gonzales help them to a 5-1 win and relieve the pressure on the under-fire management duo.

New Mills secured their first point of the season, leading twice at promotion-chasing Witton Albion, before having to settle for a point.

If that was a surprise, then Northwich Victoria’s first home defeat of the season was an even bigger shock, not just the result, but the amazing 5-0 scoreline against Farsley Celtic with all the goals coming after the break.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Nelson and Darwen fought out a goalless draw.

The Salmoners then let a 2-1 lead slip at West Didsbury and Chorlton, going down 4-2.

Nelson, meanwhile, then hosted Alsager Town who are stranded at the foot of the table and won 3-0.

A great point then looked to have been secured at Runcorn Linnets until a 90 th minutes goal gave the home side a 1-0 win.

Barnoldswick Town enjoyed a tremendous victory at home to 1874 Northwich, 2-1, while Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate lost 3-1 at Abbey Hey.

Barlick then travelled to ‘whipping-boys’ Alsager Town and after going two goals behind, levelled and looked set for a routine victory before an 88 th minute winner gave the Bullets a rare win.

Meanwhile, a Danny Morris hat-trick gave Squires Gate a 3-1 home win against AFC Liverpool.

In the MEN United Cup, Padiham held Runcorn Town to a 2-2 draw at the Arbories but went out 5-4 on penalties. The two sides met days later at Runcorn and the outcome was the same, Town winning 2-0, but they bounced back to beat Maine Road 3-1 in the League.

Goals from prolific duo Boylr and Hart helped Colne to a 3-1 win at West Didsbury and Chorlton.

In the 1 st Division, Bacup Borough produced a fine performance to win 4-0 at Atherton L.R. while the Rochdale Town v Chadderton derby game could attract just 32 spectators who saw the home side win 5-0.

The same number turned up at Holker Old Boys and the stay-a-ways missed a ‘goal-fest, Whitchurch Alport sent packing after an 8-0 defeat.

Brent Peters’ boys then recorded another big away win, coming from behind to defeat Irlam 4-1.

Down in the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic gained revenge for their FA Vase exit to Bradford Town by beating them 2-0 in the Western League at Homers Heath, a win that left them nine points from the top.

Early anuary

Matt Derbyshire was an unused substitute as Rotherham United went down 2-1 at Deepdale to P.N.E. thanks to a last minute own goal.

Also spending the entire game on the bench was Andy Procter who watched his Accrington Stanley team-mates win 3-2 at Mansfield Town to continue their promotion push.

Also in League Two, Harwood supporter Don Fitzgerald’s favourites, Wimbledon, moved to within 3 points of the play-offs after a fantastic 4-1 win at Cambridge United.

In the Conference, Paul Salt’s Altrincham remained two points above the drop zone after a fine 1-1 draw at Chester.

Paul Clark missed a rare Aldershot away game due to work commitments and despite running their lofty opponents close, Woking completed a quick-fire double over the Shots thanks to a 2-1 win.

Southport are the team of the moment, also completing a rapid ‘double’ over Wrexham, 3-2 at Haig Avenue and that’s six wins in a row. They were languishing near the foot of the table but are now as near to the play-off spots as the relegation ones.

In Conference North, Boston United gained revenge for the mauling at Lowestoft a week earlier by winning 4-1 at York Street to move up to 6 th spot.

Over 900 fans saw Fylde defeat Chorley 1-0 at Kellamergh Park. James Dean was the villain for the Magpies, blazing over a 1 st half spot kick with the game goalless. Chorley did have the ball in the net after the break but Roscoe’s overhead effort was ruled out for Deano’s foul on the keeper. The ex-Harwood star has now gone almost 9 months without a league goal.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United gained a much-needed win, 2-1 at home to Bradford Park Avenue in front of another 3,000+crowd.

A great win for Ramsbottom United at promotion-chasing Stourbridge in the Evo-stik Premier, 3-2 the score, and as it turned out it was even more vital as incredibly, all of the bottom four sides won. Those three points left the Rams 9 points from safety.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe continued their inconsistent form with a 5-2 hammering at home to Warrington Town. The visitors raced into a three-goal lead before the Blues fought back to 3-2 to two 2 nd half goals sealed their fate.

Colne FC were broken into with around £1,000 worth of theft and damage being caused. We oursleves suffered several times over the years with the location of both clubs being a problem, away from built up areas. The good news is that many local clubs have rallied round to help and replace stolen items-let’s hope the scum responsible are caught.

The Reds had earlier in the day beaten Blackpool 2-1 to begin the New Year in 2 nd place.

What a game at neighbours Padiham where the Storks and Nelson were involved in an eight-goal derby thriller. The home side went in front after only 3 minutes but the Admirals fought back to lead 3-1 with only five minutes remaining. Daley Woods made it 3-2 and then equalised on 90 minutes to what the crowd of 222 assumed would rescue a point but back stormed Nelson to make it 4-3 and surely claim a win but incredibly, that man Woods completed a quick-fire hat-trick to send the fans home breathless after a 4-4 draw.

In the FA Vase, Runcorn Town went out to holders North Shields after a 1-0 home defeat in their 3 rd round replay.

A real mangerial merry-go-round at Squires Gate where ex-Harwood start Russ McKenna is the third manager in a matter of weeks. Russ was Gate’s manager for almost six years until March of last year and there have been three different men in the hot-seat since then.

Great Harwood Town are 860 th and 964 th in the Non-League Paper’s Fantasy League going into the New Year -doh!!!!!!

Late December

Matt Derbyshire had to make do with a place on the bench at Huddersfield Town and he remained there for 76 minutes of the Millers 2-0 defeat, a result wich left them 2 nd bottom.

They then produced a great performance to beat Hull City 2-0 at the New York Stadium and move up to 3 rd from bottom although Matt didn’t come on.

The next game saw them move out of the drop zone with a cracking 4-0 home win against bottom side Bolton Wanderers. Matt again failed to appear as four decond half goals gave the Millers all three points.

Andy Procter also suffered that fate at Stevenage where an 85 th minute penalty from Kee earned Accrington Stanley a point which kept them in 6 th place.

In the FA Cup, Salford City put up a great show in their 2 nd round replay at Hartlepool but eventually went down 2-0 after extra time.

In the FA Trophy, Fylde were cruising at home to Skelmersdale United, leading 3-0 just after half time but by 83 minutes Skem had amazingly taken the lead. Four minutes later the Rowe equalised to complete his hat-trick and take the game to a replay.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham attracted just 355 fans to their home game with Leamington which ended 1-1.

Southport couldn’t even muster that with only 270 witnessing the goalless draw with Worcester City.

Alty then dropped to 6 th bottom after a 1-0 defeat at leaders Cheltenham Town.

The Sandgrounders, meanwhile, won 5-3 at home to Bromley in the League but the game was watched by another dreadful crowd of just over 700.

An injury time winner then gave them a 3-2 win at Worcester City in the FA Trophy.

Over 5,500 watched their next game at Wrexham where the good form continued with a 1-0 win.

They then won their 5 th game in a row by defeating Barrow 1-0 at Haig Avenue.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot ended a terrible run of results by beating Guiseley 1-0 at the ‘Rec’ thanks to a late Richards goal but the next outing saw them lose yet another home game, 1-0 against Woking in front of a Boxing Day crowd of over 3,000.

A fine 1-1 draw at Eastleigh got them back on track with both goals coming from the penalty spot.

In the North Division, Boston United cemented their place in the play-off positions by thrashing Stockport County 4-0 at York Street. They then had the chance to move into 2 nd place with a win at lowly Lowestoft Town but were well beaten 3-0. They got back to winning ways with 1-0 home ‘derby’ win against Gainsborough Trinity in a game watched by over 1800 Pilgrims fans.

Harwood fan Phil O’Dell, now giving drumming lessons, saw his FC United side host next to bottom Gloucester City hoping to carry on with the improving results but almost 3,200 fans went home disappointed as the Tigers won 2-1.

That was followed by a 1-1 home draw against Hednsford Town in front of almost 3,500 fans but the Reds were leading at the break.

James Dean didn’t get on the scoresheet for Chorley as they gained a creditable 2-2 draw at leaders Nuneaton Town, after twice leading, and was substituted near the end.

He then started the game at Harrogate Town and helped them into a 4-2 lead before being replaced on 69 minutes with no further goals coming.

Harrogate Town’s decision to make it free entry for the home game with Brackley Town, which preceded the Chorley game, paid dividends with a massive 1,534 passing through the turnstiles.

Fylde led 1-0 at the break at home to Curzon Ashton before going down to a surprise 2-1 defeat.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough slipped to 17 th after a 1-0 defeat at Truro City. The Cornish side are having a new ground built and will ground share with Torquay United for around a year and that means a round journey of over 170 miles for their supporters.

Mike’s boys then gained a fine point in a 1-1 draw at home to promotion-chasing Whitehawk thanks to a 96 th minute penalty but then lost again, 2-1 at Maidstone United.

In the Evo-stik Premier League, Ramsbottom United had a great opportunity to pick up a rare win as they hosted 2 nd bottom Stamford but they had to stttle for a point after a 1-1 draw.

Barwell would have gone 6 th with a win at Buxton but lost 5-1 with Liam Hardy notching a hat-trick in just 3 minutes and 8 seconds.

In Division One North, leaders Northwich Victoria had won all their games bar one, the game at Clitheroe, and Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s side made it a memorable ‘double’ after a 0-0 draw in Cheshire.

At the bottom, New Mills lost their 19 th consecutive league game with a 5-2 reverse at Prescot Cables and that left them with a goal difference of 11 for and 72 against.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Colne kept up their promotion challenge with a 2-0 win at Congleton Town.

Padiham enjoyed a superb 3-0 win at Cammell Laird while Barnoldswick Town thrashed AFC Liverpool 6-3 away from home despite having to come from behind three times, Simpson scoring a hat-trick for the visitors.

In Division One, just 19 supporters turned up for Rochdale Town’s home game with Irlam and the majority went home disappointed after a 3-0 away win.

Bacup Borough found themselves 3-0 down at leaders Cheadle Town and that’s how it stayed.

In the Lancs. Challenge Trophy, Colne won 1-0 at Bamber Bridge.

Up in Scotland’s Highland League, Buckie Thistle, a familiar name in the Scottish FA Cup, were shell-shocked after their visit to Formartine United where they lost 10-3.

United’s pevious two games had seen 4-1 and 8-0 away wins and the league certainly seems the place to go for goals with Brora Rangers recording a 10-1 Boxing Day away win at Clachnacuddin.

Early December

Not too much non-league football in the first couple of weeks thanks to the incessant rain.

Matt Derbyshire was on the bench for Rotherham United’s home game with Wolverhampton Wanderers but entered the fray after just 13 minutes as a replacement for the injured Ward.

By that stage the Millers were already one down but they fought back to level with early reports suggesting that Matt had equalised but they were later proved in accurate.

After Wolves had regained the lead, Matt saw his 84 th minute left foot shot blocked and a minute later he set up Frecklington who shot wide but the visitors held on for a 2-1 win.

He was then on the bench for his return to Ewood Park but came on with around half an hour left to a rapturous ovation from the Rovers faithful and he came closest to earning his side a point when his deflected effort looped into the home keeper’s arms.

Andy Procter once again spent two hours warming the bench as Accrington Stanley went down 1-0 at Portsmouth in the FA Cup.

In the same competition, Northwich Victoria, the lowest ranked club, looked to heading for the 3 rd round, leading 2-0 with only 7 minutes remaining but hosts Northampton Town struck three times in six minutes to break the hearts of the Evo-stik side.

In the National League, Paul Clark made the trip down to Dover but returned home to Farnborough disapponited as his Aldershot favourites lost 5-2. Trailing 2-0 at the break, the Shots stormed back to level within five minutes of the re-start before the hosts ran away with it.

Next up it was tough home tie against Eastleigh in the FA Trophy and they looked to have secured a replay until a late winner for the visitors, making it seven defeats in a row.

Southport enjoyed a great 3-1 home win against Macclesfield Town who would have gone 5 th with a win but the crowd of 861 must have been a big disappointment to the Sandgrounders officials.

The good form continued as they won 1-0 at Gateshead.

In the FA Trophy, James Dean’s Chorley went down to a surprise 5-2 replay defeat at Sklemersdale United. The Magpies had led 2-1 at half-time before three goals in six minutes late on swung the tie in the home side’s favour.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough breezed through to the next round after a 4-0 home win against Hayes and Yeading United and that produced an incredible game.

Mike’s boys had the game sewn up after only 20 minutes when they’d already built up a three goal lead and that’s how it stayed until the break.

Less than half an hour of the re-start, Hemel Hemstead Town had amazingly taken the lead only for Borough to score four more times in the final 13 minutes to win 7-4.

In the National League North, Boston United ended Solihull’s unbeaten record with a tremendous 1-0 win away from home.

Chorley looked to get back on track after their FA Trophy exit and after Deano had helped set up the opening goal at home to North Ferriby United and the Magpies scored again before the break but the ex-Harwood star then saw his wayward pass picked off and present the Villagers with a way back into the game. Nevertheless, with the game about to be go into injury time, Chorley still led but a 90 th minute equaliser and a 95 th minute winner gave the visitors the most unlikely of wins.

AFC Fylde recorded a tremendous 1-0 win at Hednesford Town and then came from behind to win 2-1 at Alfreton Town.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United won 2-1 at neighbours Stockport County before a massive crowd of 4,797 and those three points saw them move out of the bottom three. That was foloowed by a great 3-2 home win against leaders Nuneaton Town.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham gave a great account of themsleves at Colchester United and led twice before a last minute winner gave the home side the win.

Evo-stik Premier side Ramsbottom United beat Warrington Town 2-0 in the Doodson Cup were then beaten 3-0 at Ilkeston in the league to remain 12 points from safety.

In the NWCFL Barnoldswick Town went down 3-2 at Runcorn Town while Nelson lost 1-0 at Congleton Town.

Colne’s game at Runcorn Linnets was the only game in the Division to survive the monsoon-like weather on the second weekend and they must have wished it had been rained off as they were hammered 4-0 and also finished the game with ten men.

In the Lancs. Challenge Trophy, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr were relieved to see their Clitheroe side edge past visitors Bacup Borough 2-1.

In the same competition, Padiham enjoyed a tremendous 4-2 win at Atherton Collieries.

Down in the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic defeated Western League bottom side Welton Rovers 4-1 at Homers Heath to move up into 4 th place.

A home FA Vase tie against Bradford Town from their own Division gave them a great opportunity of making it to the last 32 but their Wembley dreams were dashed by a 2-1 defeat. Nick saw his side give a below-par performance although it took a spectacular goal to take the visitors through.

Late November

Matt Derbyshire remained on the bench as his Rotherham United side recorded a famous 1-0 victory against Leeds United at Elland Road. Let’s hope that new manager Neil Redfern hasn’t decided that the ex-Harwood legend is down the pecking order at the New York City Stadium.

The Millers then followed that success with another one, a 3-0 home win against fellow strugglers Bristol City with Matt once again remaining on the bench.

Andy Procter is another ex-Robin who appears to be a permenant fixture on the bench and he remained there as Accrington Stanley cemented their place in the League Two play-off positions with a great 3-2 win at Cambridge United.

Things got even better for Stanley as they smashed York City 5-1 at Bootham Crescent.

Don Fitzgerald was amongst a crowd of almost 4,500 who saw a 91 st minute equaliser salvage a point at home to Wycombe Wanderers.

The Dons were then unlucky to gain just a point from a 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient when for long periods they were in the ascenancy.

National League, Aldershot travelled up to Bradford for their FA Cup replay at City and I met up with Great Harwood Town fan Paul Clark.

In attrocious conditions, the Shots held out for over an hour before two goals gave City the win.

Around 100 fans cheered the visitors on amongst an attendance of less than 3,000, when the lowest Bradford league crowd was 17,500.

On my return to the train station, I was hit by hurricne winds, sleet, hail and rain to be told that the train back to Blackburn was delayed! As well as being soaked to the skin, I also had to leave before any goals had been scored.

Paul then missed the home game against Wrexham where they went down again, 1-0.

He managed to get to the Shots’ next game, at home to leaders Cheltenham Town where two 1 st half goals gave the visitors the points.

Shots were far from second best and both goals, from free kicks, had an element of luck about them.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham moved eight points clear of the drop zone after a fortunate 1-0 win at home to Boreham Wood but they then went down 2-0 at Forest Green Rovers and also finished the game with nine men after O’Keefe and Havern were sent off.

Southport’s new boss Dino Maamria got off to a great start, seeing the Sandgrounders win 1-0 at Welling to move up to 21 st in the Vanarama National League.

They then looked on course to pick up a fine point at promotion-chasing Eastleigh before an 84 th minute goal gave the Spitfires maximum points.

In the North Division, Boston United lost their 8 th game of the season at bottom side Worcester City but then won 2-1 at Alfreton to complete the first half of the season’s fixtures.

A 1-0 defeat at Solihull Moors then ended their interest in the FA Trophy at the first hurdle.

Phil O’Dells FC United couldn’t have been relishing their trip to table-toppers Nuneaton Town, especially on the back of seven successive defeats but they found themselves 2-0 up just after the break. Sadly for the Reds a 94 th minute penalty equaliser saved a point for the leaders.

A home game in the FA Trophy against AFC Telford United gave them a great chance to get back to winning ways but they were well beaten despite the close-sounding scoreline of 2-1.

James Dean remained on the bench as Chorley went down 2-1 at Gainsborough Trinity thanks to a 93 rd minute winner for the home side.

He then returned to the starting line-up for the home FA Trophy tie with Skelmersdale United and was at the heart of everything good that the Magpies did but the game ended goalless with the winners given a tough 1 st round test at AFC Fylde.

Deano shot just wide early on and later in the 1 st half saw his goal-bound effort cannon back off a team-mate.

In the 2 nd half his shot went just wide and he had the last chance of the game but was gutted to see his shot strike the post.

AFC Fylde drew 2-2 at improving Harrogate Town before making it through to the 1 st round proper of the FA Trophy with a 2-0 win at Warrington Town.

In the South Division, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough got a much-needed win, 3-0 at Chelmsford City.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, a late goal for hosts Halesowen Town prevented Ramsbottom United from picking up a much-needed point.

Just above the Rams are Stamford who put up a fine show at Salford before going down 1-0 in front of an eye-watering crowd of 1,311.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe soon built up a two goal lead at home to struggling Farsley Celtic but a goal for the Yorkshire side just before the break changed the complection of the game.

Playing some excellent football, Farsley scored four unanswered goals in the 2 nd half to win comfortably.

A trip to Ossett Albion resulted in another thrashing, this time 6-1 with manager Garner failing to set a good example by being sent off for two bookable offences, the second for arguing with the referee with the score at 2-0, and he was followed down the tunnel a minute later by Mayers leaving the Blues with just nine men.

That set the seal on a shocking day for the makeshift defender as he’d set up both of Ossett’s goals.

The ‘fisticuffs’ didn’t end there and Ossett finished the game with ten men after the thrid dismissal of the afternoon.

The Blues pulled one back from Gonzales with 20 minutes remaining but calamitous defending let the hosts in for four further goals.

In the FA Vase, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic defeated former winners Sholing 2-1. After a goalless 90 minutes, the visitors took the lead only for Bucks’ 39 year-old striker Ellis Laight to equalise 6 minutes from time and the comeback was complete four minutes later when Gavin Hammon hit the winner.

Their reward is a home tie against fellow Western League side Bradford Town.

Back in league action, a scintilating display gave them a 4-0 win at Melksham Town in front of a crowd of 94, a result that lifted them above their opponents into 6 th place.

Colne went out after a 5-3 extra-time defeat at home to Newton Aycliffe. The Reds battled back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to take the tie into the added 30 minutes.

The Men United Cup saw another high-scoring game at Squires Gate which once again went into extra time.

Gate went in front early on but the Reds fought back to lead before a Buchan goal took the tie into extra-time where goals from Allen and Boyle(2) saw Colne through.

In the league, Runcorn Linnets had the chance to join Colne at the top but Barnoldswick Town gained a tremendous 1-0 victory.

In the NWCFL 1 st Division, Bacup Borough went down to a 1-0 defeat at Hanley Town.

In the Men United Cup 3 rd round, Nelson hosted one of the few games to survive the weather but despite leading 2-1 after 52 minutes, after trailing at the break, they went down 4-2.

The two Great Harwood Towns lie 858 th in the Non-League Fantasy League, down from 730 th , and 974 th down from 925 th.

Early November

Great Harwood Town recorded their biggest win of the season by beating AFC Accy 12-1.

Slater and Morris both hit hat- tricks with further goals from Hathaway(2), Brown, Howes, Noon and Winckley.

Players signed on for Harwood this season are:

Marc Baron, Samuel James Barrett, Jordon Brooks, Jack Brown, Lewis Cassidy, Barclay Coates, Greg Croasdale, Michael Croasdale, Joel Davies, Jordon Dunn, Ashley Floyd, Martin Jonathan Hathaway, Jake Hill, Danny Howes, Jack Howes, Alex Mack, Piers Morris, Scott Noon, Mathew Henry Prendergast, James Slater, Linden Smith, Connor Free Stephens, Robert Mark Sumner, Paul Walker, Jason Walsh, James Williamson, Michael Winckley, Charlie Woodruff.

Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United continue to struggle in the Championship, losing 5-2 at home to Ipswich Town.

The game was all but over just after half-time as the Trawlerboys built up a 4-0 lead but goals in the 56 th and 59 th minutes gave the Millers hope. The second of those was arguably Matt’s best goal for the Yorkies, an absolute screamer from just inside the area which flew into the top corner of the net.

His 21 st minute shot almost equalised the vistor’s 8 th minute opener but within a minute of that chance, it was 2-0.

Two minutes later he set up Ward for a chance but goals just before and after the break made the game safe for Town.

Don Fitzgerald was hoping for some cup glory but a 93 rd minute goal gave Conference leaders Forest Green Rovers a 2-1 win at Kingsmeadow.

With Accrington Stanley in such fine form, ex-Robin Andy Procter is having difficulty breaking back into the side and once again he remained on the bench for the cup tie at home to York City. The Reds gave another fine performance to win 3-2 although the scoreline doesn’t do justice to their superiority.

A home game with lowly Newport County then gave them the chance to move into the automatic promotion places but they had to come from behind twice to slavage a point.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham are the greatest ‘giant-killers’ in FA Cup history and they added another scalp by beating League One Barnsley 1-0 at Moss Lane in front of over 2,500 fans. The away supporters, like the York ones at Stanley, had to endure two hours of pouring rain in an open terrace.

They then carried that cup form into the league game at Bromley to win 3-1 and prevent their opponents from rising into the play-off positions.

Paul Clark was well pleased with his Aldershot side’s efforts in the FA Cup home draw with Bradford City but less so after the Shots went down 2-0 at struggleers Kidderminster Harriers.

Southport remained firmly in the drop zone after a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of leaders Cheltenham at Haig Avenue with the game being settled after only 14 minutes when the Sandgrounders were already three down.

AFC Fylde gave a fine account of themselves at recent finalists Millwall before going down 3-1.

A home game against lowly Brackley Town saw them twice take the lead before having to settle for a point.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United lost 3-1 at home to bottom of the table Telford, before taking on Chesterfield in the cup, also at Broadhurst Park. The Spirites showed their class by winning 4-1 leaving the Reds on the worst losing run since their formation.

That run continued with a 2-1 home defeat against fellow strugglers Gainsborough Trinity.

James Dean was missing from the Chorley side that won 3-0 at Nelson in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy through tonsilitis.

He returned for the home league game against Bradford Park Avenue and helped set up the Magpies second goal on 15 minutes but after he’d missed a greta chance to make it 3-0, Avenue hit back to deservedly draw 2-2.

In the Vanarama South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough continue to under-achieve, their latest set-back a 2-1 home defeat against leaders Ebbsfleet United.

The last time that we played Salford City at Moor Lane, we were trounced 8-1 and the Mancunians gave another masterful performance to defeat Notts County, very comfortably, 2-0.

The Reds then drew an amazing attendance of 1,405 at play-off rivals Workington where they won 4-1, Richie Allen again on target.

Ramsbottom United were unlucky to exit the FA Trophy after they held Ashton United to another draw in their replay at the Riverside. The score was 2-2 but the Mancunians took the tie 10-9 on penalties.

Barnoldswick Town had a tremendous 5-0 home win over Harrogate R.I. in the West Riding Cup.

Poor old Winsford United lost 10-1 at Chester in the Cheshire Senior Cup but it could have been even worse as they trailed 8-1 with less than 40 minutes on the clock.

Darwen travelled to 3 rd bottom Squires Gate hoping to start climbing the table but they were hammered 6-3 leaving them just above their opponents. Gate have improved lately with all four league wins coming in their last seven games.

The Salmoners then travelled to bottom club Alsager Town and had little dificulty in collecting the points, winning 4-1 with all the goals coming in the 1 st half.

Ramsbottom United gained their second Evo-stik Premier League win of the season, Ex-Rovers and Colwyn Bat star Shelton Payne hitting an 84 th minute winner in a 2-1 success.

Spare a thought for bottom side New Mills, 16 defeats in a row, just seven goals scored before the trip to Scarborough Athletic. With 90 minutes on the clock, they lead 1-0 before the home side levelled but at least they’d pick up their first point, surely-but no! Scarborough got the most unliely of wins thanks to a 94 th minute second.

A home game against leaders Northwich Victoria made it 18 loses and 67 goals conceeeded after a 5-1 defeat.

Their record is mirrored in the South West Divison by Bashley who lost their 16 th game, 8-0 at home to North Leigh.

In the Evostik 1 st Divison North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr saw their Clitheroe side come from behind to draw 1-1 at Prescot Cables, their first draw of the season after 17 games.

Next up was a home game against Droylsden and despite going behind after only five minutes, the Blues stormed back to win 6-1 with goals from Hession 2, Hampson 2, Gonzales and Harries.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic were flying at the top of the Western League until recently but they slipped up again, losing 2-1 at lowly Cribbs.

Nick and ten other Bucks’ supporters made the long journey to Bristol to see their favourites in action and lead 1-0 at the break but the home side fought back to equalise before hitting an injury time winner. With the scores level, Athletic twice hit the woodwork before the late sucker punch.

In the NWCFL, Rochdale Town were rewarded for getting their Reusch Cup home game with Atherton LR on, despite the heavy rain, by a turn out of just 19 who saw them win 3-1.

Against all the odds they also managed to stage their home game with Daisy Hill where five more spectators saw them draw 1-1.

The Staffordshire FA Vase saw Eccleshall travel to Wolverhampton Casuals and find themselves 3-0 up after only 35 minutes but half an hour later they were 4-3 down and eventually lost 5-4.

Nelson trailed 2-0 at 1874 Northwich but levelled with two goals early in the 2 nd half before going down 4-2.

Padiham lost 3-0 at Abbey Hey.

Late October

Great Harwood Town made up for their dropped points against Hapton by beating the same opponents 5-2 in the cup.

Matt Derbyshire was at the heart of everything that Rotherham United did offensively against neighbours Sheffield Wednedsay at the New York Stadium but the Millers still went down 2-1 and he then had to watch from the sidelines, because of injury, as over 30,000 fans saw Derby County win 3-0 to leave Matt’s boys stranded at the foot of the table.

Harwood supporter Don Fitzgerald travelled up from Carshalton to see his Wimbledon favourites come from 2-0 down to beat Accrington Stanley 4-3 and send Fitz and around 150 fellow supporters home happy.

The Dons then built on that with another victory, 2-0 at home to Hartlepool and Accy got back to winning ways with a 1-0 success at Leyton Orient, Andy Procter once again remaining on the bench.

Paul Clarke made the usual long trek to see his Aldershot side, this time at Southport but the Shots had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw against their lowly opponents.

‘Port also exited the FA Cup after a 1-0 defeat at Salford City before a huge four-figure crowd at Moor Lane.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham also had to settle for a point as they were held to a 1-1 draw against Torquay United at home.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United’s away form has been poor this term and that continued as they lost 3-1 at improving Boston United and but for heroics from the Reds’ keeper the defeat would have been far greater.

They then let a two goal lead slip against Glossop North End in the Manchester Premier Cup before going through 6-5 on penalties.

Their FA Cup game at home to Chesterfield was then switched despite opposition by the club who insist that weekend football should be played at 3-00 on a Saturday. Despite that excellent philosophy, the FA insisted that the game be played on the Monday evening.

Over 500 fans, a huge gate for Northwich Victoria, saw Chorley hold out for a goalless draw in the FA Cup but Vics took the replay 2-1.

The Magpies then defeated Brackley 1-0 at home in the Conference North.

Fylde thrashed Stalybridge Celtic 5-0 at Kellemergh Park to keep up their promotion charge.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough drew 1-1 at home to Sutton United.

In the Evo-stik League, Ramsbottom United fans finally had something to cheer about as they hammered Whitby Town 4-1 at the Riverside but it was back in the old routine a few days later as five goals in 15 minutes either side of the break saw them go down 5-0 at Hyde United and remain bottom of the table.

The next game saw them take the lead at Buxton before going down 2-1.

They then gained an excellent 2-2 draw at Ashton United in the FA Trophy.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe won 2-1 at Lancaster City, 2-0 at home to Mossley and 3-0 against Harrogate R.A. to move up to 5 th place.

In the NWCFL, Colne moved six points clear at the top of the Premier Division after a 3-1 win at Ashton Athletic with Danny Boyle hitting a brace.

They then looked like exiting the Men United Cup trailing 1-0 at Rochdale Town with only three minutes remaining but that was long enough for them to score twice and make it through to the next round.

They also trailed at Athersley Recreation in the FA Vase but a goal apiece for Boyle and Hart helped them to a 5-1 win.

Nelson went down 3-0 at West Didsbury & Chorlton but then made through to the next round of the Men United Cup with an extra-time, 4-3 victory at home to Congleton Town. The Blues had led 3-1 with only 8 minutes left before the Bears forced the added 30 minutes but the following league game at home to AFC Liverpool saw them go down to another defeat, 2-1.

A Turner hat-trick helped Padiham to a 5-1 home win against Silsden and they then made it through in the Men United Cup with a fine 3-2 win at AFC Liverpool.

A 3-2 defeat at improving Squires Gate saw the mini-run end.

Darwen defeated Barnoldswick Town 3-1 at the Anchor before losing by the same score, at the same venue, to Blackpool in the Men United Cup.

Barlick also went down 3-1 in that competition at home to Ashton Athletic, but then claimed a fine point after drawing 2-2 at home to Cammell Laird.

1 st Division Bacup Borough hit the goal-trail at Hanley in the Men United Cup, winning 4-2 and then went goal-crazy at home to Rochdale Town. Black scored a hat-trick inside 30 minutes and Trippier also hit three as the visitors were trounced 9-2!

A 2-0 defeat at Barnton followed, watched by just 33 spectators and of the 8 Division One games on the Saturday, the highest turn-out was just 76.

Game of the day in the Vase was at West Didsbury & Chorlton where visitors Morpeth Town raced into a 4-0 half-time lead.

The home side pulled a goal back just after the hour mark and four minutes later hit another. They made it 4-3 still with 20 minutes remaining and amazingly scored the equaliser in the 1 st minute of stoppage time but the North Eastern side then hit the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Also in the Vase, recent opponents of the Robins, Guisborough Town, hammered Armthorpe Welfare 8-0 while Seaham Red Star won 1-0 at Durham City.

Down in the South West, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic beat Gillingham 5-0 in the Western League in front of 115 fans before they travelled to Hampshire to take on New Milton Town in the FA Vase.

The attendance of just 59 consisted of 32 Buck’s fans who saw their side lead 2-0 at the break and also had a penalty saved before running out convincing 5-0 winners once again.

In the Non-League Fantasy League, the two Great Harwood Towns are 730 th and 925 th.

Early October

Great Harwood Town FC went through to the next round of the cup, defeating nearest league rivals Globe Bullough Park 2-1 and then made it four wins from four in the Accrington Combination by beating AFC Burnley 3-0.

I then travelled over to Padiham to see them as they took on Hapton at Fennyfold Playing Fields but despite dominating the game for long periods and displaying some fine approach work, they dropped their first points after a 1-1 draw.

Playing in yellow and blue and kicking down the slope in the second half, Harwood took the lead shortly after the re-start but several near misses and some excellent goalkeeping kept Hapton in the game, and a long punt upfield and a cute back-heel saw them draw level around 15 minutes from time.

Matt Derbyshire led the Rotherham United forward line as they took on Burnley at the New York Stadium and it took him just three minutes to set up Ward whose shot was saved.

Burnley then took an early lead on 9 minutes before Matt’s header three minutes later flew just wide.

He came closest to equalising in the 1 st half but his 43 rd minute right-footed shot was well saved.

A great goal from Ward brought the sides level and Matt’s cross for Maguire almost gave them them the lead.

After the Harwood hero recovered from an injury, he then headed into the path of Clarke-Harris whose shot was blocked but unfortunately Burnley grabbed a late winner.

A trip to Brentford followed and the Millers once again went down 2-1 despite having more possession, shots and corners than the Bees.

After just five minutes Matt almost opened the scoring when his header was saved and on 36 minutes, his long-range shot was blocked.

Three minutes later he saw another header well saved and midway through the 2 nd half his shot was brilliantly kept out by the Brentford keeper.

In League One, our old friends from Fleetwood Town parted company with manager Graham Alexander despite him taking them to their highest-ever League position. The change failed to pay dividends and more defeats saw them fall into the drop zone.

Not quite sure what owner Andy Pilley is expecting but the decision appears to be rather puzzling, as it was with the the even more strange decision to ditch the very successful Micky Mellon.

Andy Procter was an unused substitute as Accrington Stanley went down 3-1 at home to Oxford United thanks to two late goals. The Reds then won 2-1 at Barnet to move up to 5 th with Andy once again remaining on the bench.

That was again the case when Stanley visited League leaders Plymouth Argyle and despite dominating for much of the game, they went down 1-0 thanks to an inspired performance by the Argyle goalkeeper.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon defeated Barnet 2-0 to remain in mid-table but then went down to a 1-0 defeat at Oxford United thanks to a late decider.

A home game against Morecambe then left them shell-shocked as, despite taking a 3 rd minute lead, they went down to an embarrassing 5-2 defeat.

In the Conference Premier, Paul Salt’s Altrincham won 1-0 at home to Barrow but then lost 3-1 at home to 2 nd bottom Halifax Town, leaving the Robins languising in 19 th place.

Paul Clark’s work commitments stopped him from travelling to Torquay United to follow his Aldershot favourites, a very rare miss, but he was still celebrating at five o’clock as the Shots won 2-0 to move up to 13 th place.

Next up was a home game against faltering Forest Green Rovers but the visitors eased to a 3-0 victory which sent them back to the top of the league.

A goal in each half then gave them a 2-0 home win against ‘Salty’s’ Alty.

More work commitments stopped another away game trip to Boreham Wood but around 200 made the journey and saw their side move up to 12 th after a 19 th minute goal gave them the three points.

Over 1600 fans then saw a hard fought home game with Bromley end all square at 1-1 with the Shots managing just the one shot on target throughout.

Altrincham, meanwhile, had a great chance to get back to winning ways with a home game against a Kidderminster Harriers side who’d failed to win any of their opening 17 league games but it took a 95 th minute equaliser just to earn a point.

The boot was then on the other foot as Alty looked like completing a superb 2-1 win at Gateshead but the hosts levelled in the 92 nd minute.

Although Southport enjoyed a great 2-1 win at Woking they remained in the bottom four but blew the chance to move out of it after they went down 1-0 at home to 2 nd bottom Torquay United and 2-1 to Chester. Things had looked good for the Sandgrounders, leading 1-0 with just 11 minutes left but two goals in six minutes gave the visitors an unlikely win.

They then won a vital relegation battle at Kidderminster Harriers 1-0 despite playing below par.

Like Fleetwood, Halifax made the ridiculous decision to sack their manager, Neil Aspin departing despite a hugely successful six years at the Shay which saw four promotions, and the club are reaping what they sow, losing 7-1 at home to Cheltenham Town, winning 3-1 at Altrincham, losing 3-0 at home to Woking, 7-0 at Grimsby Town and 2-1 at Chester to remain in the drop zone.

In the North Division, Fylde continue to impress, beating bottom side AFC Telford 1-0 at Kellemergh Park before the FA Cup paired them with Colehill Town of the the Midland League. The visitors were fresh from a 9-0 home win in the League Cup but amazingly they then lost by the same score to the Coasters with Hughes and Rowe both scoring hat-tricks.

The excellent form continued as they won 2-1 at Corby Town.

James Dean’s Chorley gained a creditable 2-2 home draw with leaders Solihull Moors although it could and should have been three points. Moors took a second minute lead but five minutes later were reduced to ten men after Byrne was sent off.

The Magpies fought back and were in front after half an hour but the second half saw Solihull take control and deservedly draw level.

They then encountered a tough FA Cup tie at Whitley Bay where a large partisan crowd saw Chorley go through after a 3-2 win. Deano caused plenty of problems throughout and it was his 79 th minute shot that was parried by the keeper before Stephenson potted the rebound.

In the next game, they trailed 1-0 at home to Hednesford Town with only 10 minutes remaining but goals in the 80 th and 83 rd minutes looked to have given them the points before the visitors levelled with four minutes left.

Deano had the only real chance of a dull 1 st half, his header flashing just wide.

Boston United got back to winning ways with an excellent 3-1 win at Nuneaton and followed that up with a hard-fought 1-0 win against bottom side Telford at York Street.

They then edged another very close game at home, 2-1 against Alfreton Town.

Ex-Nelson and Fylde star Richie Allen scored a penalty to earn Salford City a replay against Bradford Park Avenue and he then an extra-time winner at the Horsfall Stadium to see the Reds through.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United also made it through after an away replay win, two late goals giving them a 2-0 win at Buxton.

They then went down 1-0 in the league at North Ferriby United thanks to an injury time decider.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough failed to move up amongst the leading pack after being held to a goalless draw at home to Concord Rangers.

The Sports then entertained Hartley Wintney of the Combined Counties League who’d lost just one of their 16 league and cup games this term and the minnows showed their mettle as they came from two goals down to level before going down to a 92 nd minute winner.

They then dropped to 12 th after a 1-0 home defeat to Bishops Stortford whose keeper made some outstanding saves.

In the Evo-stik Premier, still no joy for Ramsbottom United as they lost 3-1 at home to Barwell but they then stopped the rot with the most unlikely of results against leaders Blyth Spartans. Rams had lost all seven home games while Spartans had won nine of their twelve games this season but against all the odds the game ended goalless.

Garry Vaughan is the new boss at the Riverside and he saw his new side earn another fine point with a 1-1 draw at home to Mickleover Sports thanks to a last minute equaliser.

In the FA Trophy, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe’s hot and cold form continued as they went down to a 2-1 home defeat to Stocksbridge Park Steels.

They then travelled to ‘whipping boys’ New Mills who’d scored just four goals in their opening eleven games but Christmas came early and they found themselves 2-0 up after only five minutes but the Blues fought back to lead 17 minutes later and that’s how the score finished.

Three days later it was another trip to Derbyshire to take on leaders Glossop North End and Clitheroe once again started slowly, two down in only six minutes and four down after 25 with the game already out of sight. Thankfully there was no more damage and loan player Hendry made it 4-1 by the end.

Their next opponents, Trafford, took 20 minutes to build up a two goal lead at Shawbridge but seven minutes later the Blues had levelled with on-loan Rovers striker

Hendry again on the scoresheet. Trafford re-took the lead before the break and added another late on to win 4-2.

New Mills meanwhile, then reverted to type, losing 5-0 at home to 18 th placed Radcliffe Borough who themsleves had scored only 11 goals in 11 games.

Witton Albion, 5-0 winners at Ossett Town three days earlier, travelled to Farsley Celtic, one win in eleven, hoping for another big win but the hosts shocked everyone by winning 7-0.

In Ryman Premier League, Dulwich Hamlet drew a crowd of just under 2,000 for their 5-2 home win against VCD Athletic.

In the FA Vase, old foes Hall Road Rangers went down 3-1 at Darlington R.A. but Seaham Red Star made it through after a 1-0 win at Jarrow Roofing.

Norton & Stockton Ancients were well beaten by Newcastle Benfield 4-1 and Darwen lost to West Auckland Town 4-2 after extra time at the Anchor.

A late equaliser for the visitors took the game into the extra 30 minutes but five injuries, including two players needing hospital treatment, left Darwen with just nine men, having used up all their substitutes.

The Salmoners were back in league action a few days later and despite taking the lead and missing a penalty that would have made it 2-0, lost 6-1 at AFC Liverpool.

I then took in their home game with Runcorn Town and they were comprehensively beaten 5-1. The lady referee certainly had her work cut out with every decision throughout the 90 minutes contested by both sides in a disgraceful show of disrespect. Heaven knows why she’d want to continue with her career after that!

A special mention for the Town right back Chris Lester who was tremendous for the entire game and scored a fabulous goal, picking up the ball in his own half before side-stepping a couple of tackles and letting fly with a swerving 25-yard missile which flew into the top right-hand corner of the net-a goal worthy of winning a World Cup Final.

Two more local sides ‘bit the dust’ against North East sides in the Vase, Barnoldswick Town losing 3-0 at Newton Aycliffe while Nelson lost 3-1 at home to Team Northumbria.

What a Vase game at Lancing. They looked like being on the end of a surprise exit, losing 3-1 at home to Oakwood but substitute Adams scored with his first touch and the home side then equalised. Oakwood then looked to have sealed it with an 84 th minute penalty but Lancing made it 4-4 in the 95 th minute!

That set up extra-time when Adams hit three more as the game ended 9-4.

Barlick were then involved in an incredible game in the West Riding County Cup at home to Eccleshill United.

Just 55 spectators saw them just about seal victory inside 37 minutes as they led 3-0 but barely six minutes after the break, United had levelled and with three minutes remaining were leading 5-4. Town equalised and then went through to the 2 nd round after a 12-11 penalty shoot-out win.

They then drew 2-2 at home to AFC Liverpool in the league in front of a huge 220 fans at the Silentnight Stadium.

Bacup Borough lost 2-1 at home to Hemsworth Miners Welfare.

West Didsbury & Chorlton set a new record for the biggest-ever win involving a NWCFL side when they defeated Dinnington Town 15-1 with an amazing nine different playersgetting on the scoresheet. After half an hour there was little to suggest that the home side would win easily as they led just 2-1 with a third of the game gone.

The goalscoring continued in the next game as they won 4-3 at home to Alsager Town thanks to a last minute winner.

One other side hit double figures, Witheridge won 10-1 at home to St. Blazey.

Other notable results included Bishop Auckland’s 7-1 home victory iver Holker Old Boys and Atherton Collieries 6-2 home win against Laburnum Rovers in front of a tremendous turn-out of 429.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, a big crowd of 256 saw 1874 Northwich defeat Padiham 5-4. The Storks drew level three times before eventually going down with Keiron Pickup scoring another two goals.

A home game against Squires Gate, no wins from their opening eleven games, gave them the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways but ‘gate finally broke their duck with a 1-0 win still leaving them in the same position while Padiham remained in 16 th spot.

219 supporters saw them defeat Cammell Laird 2-1 but they then lost by the same score at Barnoldswick, a result that took Town up to 4 th.

Barlick then lost 2-1 at 1874 Northwich.

Leaders Colne suffered a surprise 4-0 defeat at Cammell Laird 1907 but a brace apiece from Jason Hart and Ben Hoskin gave them a 4-0 win at AFC Blackpool and took them back to the top.

Hart then hit a hat-trick and Boyle a last minute penalty as they won 4-2 at home to Congleton Town in front of over 300 fans.

A crowd of 169, including myslef, saw them cruise to a 4-0 win at Darwen with Boyle, two, and Hart, one, again on target.

A crowd of 255 then saw Padiham hold Colne to a goalless draw at Holt House.

Meanwhile, Cammell Laird failed to build on the win against Colne as they went down 4-3 at home to Atherton Collieries with Cairns for the home side and Cover for Colls, both scoring hat-tricks.

Nelson led 1-0 at the break away to Maine Road but went down 2-1 in the end, but then defeated Blackpool 3-1 at Victoria Park to move up to 7 th. A big crowd of 262 saw hosts Silsden clinch victory with the only goal of the game coming in the last minute.

Darwen continue to ship goals at an alarming rate, six, five, four and five again, the latest at Maine Road. The Salmoners were 1-0 up at the break but afterwrds the defence capsized and only two goals in the last two minutes gave the scoreline a degree of respectability.

Runcorn Town continue to impress, and after their superb 5-1 win at Darwen, they defeated Blackpool 4-2 at home but what a pity that they can’t attract the size of crowd that their football deserves with just 89 at the latest game.

Probably the surprise result of the season at bottom side Alsager Town who’d drawn two and lost their other ten league games so far. They entertained 2 nd placed Runcorn Linnets, ten wins from 12, who would have gone top with a win but the Bullets eased to a 3-1 win with the visitors only getting on the scoresheet in the last minute.

In the 1 st Division, Bacup Borough won 2-1 at home to Litherland REMYCA before drawing 1-1 with Stockport Town, also at West View.

They then exited the Reusch Cup, losing 2-0 at Chadderton

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic suffered a surprise defeat at home to mid-table Street, who won 2-1 thanks to two penalties, one either side of the break, which saw them come from behind to take the points.The Bucks then lost top spot as Bristol Manor Farm won 3-2 against Welton Rovers and it was two points dropped at home against lowly Welton that saw Buckland drop to 3 rd. The game ended 2-2 with the home keeper being sent off after 45 minutes.

In the Non League Fantasy League, the two Great Harwood Town’s are 659 th and 763 rd from 1726 entrants.

Late September

Matt Derbyshire returned to one of his former clubs, Birmingham City, and just like last season, scored. His great 32 nd minute volley set Rotherham on the road to a vital victory which they eventually won 2-0, and he almost added a second on 34 minutes when his shot was blocked before he blazed the rebound wide.

The Millers were good value for the three points as they peppered the Blues goal with no less than 18 shots during the game.

Andy Procter came on after 73 minutes of Accrington Stanley’s superb 4-2 home win against Exeter City, a result than saw the Reds move above their opponents into the play-off positions. Only two late goals gave the scoreline a little respectablity for the Grecians.

He then remianed on the bench as Stanley breezed past Crawley to record a terrific 3-0 away win.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon looked to be heading for a home defeat against Notts County but two goals in the final five minutes gave them an unlikely victory. The winner came from man-mountain Akinfenwa in the 90 th minute.

The boot was on the other foot in the next game at Luton Town where two goals in the final 11 minutes gave the Hatters a 2-0 win.

In the Vanarama National League, Paul Salt’s Altrincham were put to the sword by visitors Braintree Town who won 4-0, although the final two goals came in injury time.

A tough trip to Lincoln City followed a few days later and the Robins returned with an excellent point after a 1-1 draw.

They then recorded their first away win of the campaign with a 1-0 win at struggling Boreham Wood thanks to a penalty.

Paul Clark and his Aldershot buddies endured another long trek up to Barrow but it was well worth it as the Reds won 3-1 to move into the top half.

Three days later, Paul and 99 other loyal Shots fans made the midweek trip to Tranmere Rovers but despite taking the lead, the visitors went down to a 3-1 defeat.

A home game against lowly Macclesfield Town gave them the ideal opportunity to gain another three points but the Silkmen found little opposition in their 3-0 win.

Southport travelled to Halifax Town who were just below them near the bottom of the table and despite going down to ten men after only 25 minutes, they’d built up a two goal lead with only 16 minutes remaining but the Tykes hit back to force a draw.

Earlier in the week Town manager Neil Aspin was sacked, an astonishing decision after 6 hugely successful year at the club with three promotions in four years after he took over. Needless to say, Neil was very unhappy and cited, quite rightly, that the club were only part-time and competing against some huge full-time clubs.

‘Port then made another trip to Yorkshire and came back from Guiseley with another valuable point after a 1-1 draw.

A tough home game against Grimsby Town followed and a 4-0 trouncing kept them firmly entrenched near the bottom of the table, their cause wasn’t helped by their 6 th red card of the season, twice as many as any other team in the league.

In the North Division, Boston United’s inconsistent camapign continued with a 3-0 home defeat against title favourites AFC Fylde. I went to the game and was impressed with the Coasters who’s eleven players all looked comfortable on the ball and passed it particularly well. There was little between the sides in a tight 1 st half but three goals in five minutes around the hour mark killed the game as a contest.

The aim of League Football by 2020 is definitely on but with such small support, just 20 away fans at the game, just how sustainable will that be?

The Pilgrims then made their early annual exit from the FA Cup, at the first stage, losing 2-0 to Lincs. neighbours Gainsborough Trinity whose opener was scored by Boston’s record goalscorer Mark Newsham.

No problems for Fylde though as they progressed after a 1-0 home win against Stockport County.

The Coasters then made it through to the next round of the LFA Challenge Trophy, defeating visiting Radcliffe Borough 5-2 despite trailing twice.

Two late goals for lowly Lowestoft Town sent Chorley to a 2-0 defeat away from home. Magpies keeper Sam Ashton performed heroics to keep his side in the game, including a tremendous penalty save before James Dean saw his header cleared off the line with the score still at 0-0.

The Magpies then went through to the next round of the FA Cup after two Deano goals were enough to see off Frickley at Victory Park, 2-0 the score. His first came from the penalty spot on the hour mark and he sealed the tie with his second five minutes from time.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United lost the derby at Stalybridge Celtic 1-0 thanks to a 2 nd half penalty but they went through in the FA Cup, coming from behind to beat Witton Albion 3-1 at Broadhurst Park before the round’s biggest attendance, 1,643.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough gained a fine point at 2 nd placed Oxford City but it could have been muh better as the Sports led 2-0 at the break.

They then progressed in the FA Cup thanks to a hard fought 2-1 home win against AFC Sudbury.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Ramsbottom United with just three goals in their opening eight games, stormed into a three-goal lead by half-time at 4 th bottom Stamford but three home strikes in the final 15 minutes saw their hopes of a first victory of the campaign dashed.

The Rams then made it five defeats from five home games when a 91 st minute goal gave Stourbridge a 2-1 victory.

That became six as Darlington won 3-0 at the Riverside.

Things were no better on their travels as Nantwich Town stormed into a 6-0 lead inside an hour, eventually winning 7-1.

Salford City have certainly been boosted by the signing of Richie Allen from Fylde and he scored a brace as they defeated Halesowen Town 3-1 at Moor Lane.

In the North Division, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe had a chance to move into a play-off spot with victory over mid-table Ossett Town but a 2-1 defeat at Shawbridge left them in 8 th place.

Next up at the venue were Northwich Victoria, eight wins from eight games but the Blues registered a fantastic 2-0 win to move up to 6 th.

They couldn’t build on that success and were hammered 5-0 at Warrington Town in their next outing.

The eractic form then continued as they hosted Scarborough Athletic, a game which I took in.

The Yorkshire side struck the opening goal but Jonny Hession, in his first start for the club, brought them level with a cool finish on 24 minutes and only a fine save from the ‘boro keeper prevented the same player from giving the Blues the lead with the final kick of the half.

Garner’s men then stepped up the pace after the break and a terrific long-range shot from Heywood gave them the advantage. A strange decision from the referee, who gave a penalty for the Blues but only booked the ‘last man’, saw Bakkor almost burst the net with the resultant spot kick before a superb shot from the excellent Lynch make it 4-1. A cracking 25 yard free-kick from the Reds gave the scoreline a bit of respectability.

At the bottom, New Mills were only two points adrift of Farsley but it’s still going to take a massive turnaround after nine straight defeats. They held Bamber Bridge for 36 minutes but the visitors then went on to win 7-0. A 4-0 home defeat and a 3-0 away loss followed that.

Northwich Victoria continue to impress, winning 6-1 at Droylsden with the game in the bag after only 26 minutes, Vics leading 5-0 by that stage.

Ex-Bloods and Southport striker Ciarran Kilheeney scored one of the goals that sunk Clitheroe and hit another two as his Warrington side won 3-0 at Ossett Albion.

In the South Division, nice to see fallen ‘giants’ Stafford Rabgers on the up. Over 500 fans saw them build up a 5-0 half-time lead against visitors Belper Town before easing off to record a 6-0 win.

In the North West Counites League Premier Division, Darwen took the lead at Abbey Hey but the home side fought back to win 2-1.

The Salmoners hit back to win 2-0 at Silsden.

Leaders Barnoldswick Town went down 4-1 at home to Runcorn Town and followed that with a 3-1 loss at Silsden, a result that saw them drop to 6 th. They’d taken the lead in the 1 st half and held onto it until the 78 th minute when the home onslaught began.

They got back to winning ways, beating visitors Maine Road 4-2 and moving back into 2 nd.

Nelson lost 3-0 at Cammell Laird but stormed back in the next game to defeat local rivals Padiham 4-0 at Victoria Park. The Admirals moved up to 2 nd and had the game in the bag after only 21 minutes when they were 3-0 up much to the delight of their supporters in the crowd of 189.

They then slipped down the table after a 4-3 home defeat against Atherton Collieries despite leading 2-0 after only 7 minutes.

A terrific crowd of 269 saw Colne defeat AFC Liverpool 4-1 at Holt House with Jordon and Boyle both hitting braces. That win maintained their unbeaten start to the camapaign and also took them to the top of the table.

The Reds Holt House Stadium was vandalised before their derby game with Nelson a couple of weeks ago and our sympathys go out to them. We certainly were plagued by hooligans during our final years at the Showground.

They then continued with the free-scoring, winning 4-1 at Squires Gate.

Familiar scorers Hart and Boyle then gave them a 2-1 win at Alsager Town.

Padiham lost 5-1 at West Didsbury & Chorlton before the 4-0 defeat at Nelson but continued with the excellent entertainment, beating Winsford United 5-1 at the Arbories thanks to four goals in the final 11 minutes.

Bacup Borough won 2-1 at home to Hanley in the 1 st Division and a 3-0 success at Rochdale Town then moved them up into 6 th spot.

In the MEN United Cup, what a game at Eccleshall! Visitors Chadderton were easing into the next round having built up a 3-0 lead but the home side hit back to draw 3-3 and eventually go through 4-3 on penalties.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland United enjoyed a backs-to-the-wall 1-0 win at Bitton. They took a 10 th minute lead but were reduced to ten men just before the break although the resulting penalty was saved.

It was then 2 nd versus top as Odd Down, leading scorers, entertained Buckland, tightest defence, and it was Nick’s boys who were happiest after a goalless draw, making it just three goals conceded in ten games.

In the Accrington & District Combination, Great Harwood Town lie top of the table after a 4-2 win against St. Mary’s College Old Boys and a 3-1 success against Water F.C. saw them win their opening three games.

At the end of September, The Non-league Paper’s fantasy league has TWO Great Harwood Town’s competing!!!

One is lying in equal 734 th spot and the other is in equal 767 th place.

Early September

Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United look set for another tough season and they remained at the foot of the table after a 2-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Millers first chance came on 8 minutes when Matt’s great header flew narrowly wide but with the Seagulls well on top, he had precious few opportunities and was withdrawn after an hour.

In League Two, Andy Procter was back on the bench after his long absence through injury and he came on ten minutes from time as the Reds recorded a terrific 1-0 win at Bristol Rovers.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon drew 1-1 at Yeovil thanks to a late equaliser.

In the Vanarama National League, Paul Clark’s Aldershot gained their first home win of the season by defeating Halifax Town 3-2 at the Rec although it was a tense finish with the Tykes coming back from 3-0 down just after the break.

Paul and his mates made the long trip to Grimsby Town and were in fine voice as their team led 1-0 at break, even though it was against the run of play. The second half saw the Mariners keep up the pressure which told eventually and they hit four unanswered goals.

Three days later they were back at home recording another victory, 1-0 against Welling.

Cheltenham Town arrived at Moss Lane unbeaten but a 95 th minute strike by substitute Heathcote gave Paul Salt’s boys a tremendous 2-1 win in front of a fine turn-out of just over 1,200.

The Robins tough run of games continued with a trip to Wrexham where they were well beaten 3-1 but high-flying Eastleigh were then held to a 1-1 at Alty.

Southport remain in the bottom four despite picking up a point in a goalless draw at home to Dover Athletic and then went down 2-1 at all-conquering Forest Green Rovers. A 2-2 home draw with Tranmere Rovers followed but it could have been so much better as the Sandgrounders led 2-0 after only 20 minutes. Rovers scored within seconds of the re-start and equalised on 57 minutes and ‘port’s cause wasn’t helped by a 66 th minute dismissal. Great to see a crowd of almost 3,000 give Haig Avenue a tremendous atmosphere.

In the North Division, Boston United lost their 4 th game of the season thanks to an injury time winner for the home side at Hednesford Town. The Pilgrims had earlier levelled after being two down at half time.

Chorley also lost their 4 th game, going down 2-1 at home to Alfreton Town despite leading at the break. James Dean came on as a sub. on 69 minutes with the Magpies still leading but within ten minutes they were behind.

The two sides then met at York Street and things looked good for the Pilgrims at half time, 1-0 up and well on top but Chorley gradually fought their way back into the game and two Hines goals gave them the points.

Another cracking win followed, 1-0 at home to Stockport County in front of over 1,500 fans. Deano had to make do with a place on the bench and only came on 4 minutes from time but had flashed a long-range shot just wide within seconds of entering the fray.

Meanwhile Boston got back to winning ways with a 3-2 victory at Corby Town.

After a shaky start to the season, AFC Fylde are back in the old routine, up to 2 nd spot after a 3-1 win at Gloucester City. A 2-2 home draw against Tamworth followed that but they then had a fanastic 4-0 home win against FC United in front of 821 fans.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United moved into the top half of the table after an emphatic 4-1 win at Lowestoft Town and three more points were collected thanks to a 1-0 home success against Corby Town before the afore-mentioned defeat at Fylde.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough could have moved into the play-off positions with a win at home to struggling Truro City but had to settle for a point after a goalless draw. The good form soon returned as they thrashed Basingstoke Town 5-1 away from home but they were brought crashing down to earth with a 4-1 home defeat against Margate.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Ramsbottom United remained rooted to the foot of the table after losing 1-0 at home to Sutton Coldfield Town and were then beaten 2-1 at Darlington in front of over 1,000 fans. The FA Cup brought little joy as they were beaten 2-1 at Buxton.

In the North Division, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr saw their Clitheroe side outclassed at Spennymoor Town, going down 5-0 but they then won 3-1 at Kendal Town but exited the FA Cup after a 2-0 defeat at Marine.

The bottom two sides met at New Mills, the home side with no points from seven games and Prescot Cables just a point from six. Things look very bleak for Mills after a 7-1 defeat.

AFC Darwen appointed experienced Neil Prince as their new manager and if his first game in charge was anything to go by, then there are exciting times ahead. Over a third of the game had passed before the Salmoners took the lead at home to Maine Road but within another seven minutes it was 3-0. The Mancunians pulled it back to 3-2 by the break and remained in touch until the last minute, trailing 5-4, but the home side scored twice more to win 7-4. The goals kept flowing in the next two games with wins at Blackpool, 3-2, and a superb 3-1 home win against 1874 Northwich.

They looked on course for another three points at home to winless Squires Gate but a last minute equaliser denied them.

Nelson twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Squires Gate.

Padiham trailed 2-0 at home to AFC Blackpool after only 6 minutes but fought back to earn a point in a 3-3 draw. Local rivals Colne were the next vistors to the Arbories and they won 3-1 to extend their unbeaten start to the season. The Storks then went down 2-0 to Lancaster City in the FA Cup while Colne lost 3-1 at Consett. Padiham’s Kieran Pickup then hit a hat-trick in a 3-0 win at Maine Road while Colne beat another of their big rivals, Nelson, 2-1 at Holt House in front of a huge 415 attendance. That three points moved the Reds up to 3 rd place with Nelson dropping to 4 th.

Barnoldswick Town lead the way in the division after six wins from seven games but in their 8 th, it took a last minute penalty to salvage a point at Atherton Collieries.

In the 1 st Division, Bacup Borough won 1-0 at Eccleshall

What a game in the FA Cup preliminary round at Kidsgrove. The home side led Westfields 4-0 at half time in their replay but three minutes from time the visitors scored their fourth to force extra-time.

Kidsgrove then made it 5-4 only for Westfields not only to equalise but also score the winner with a 120 th minute penalty!

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic maintained their fine start to the campaign by winning 2-0 at Bradford Town before defeating Hallen 1-0 to remain top of the table. Shepton Mallett were then beaten by the same score.

In the FA Vase, old foes Norton & Stockton Ancients defeated Pickering Town 2-1 while Thornaby lost 3-1 at Silsden.

Crook Town went out, courtesy of a 2-0 home defeat to West Auckland Town, Seaham Red Star beat Billingham Town 3-1, Winterton Rangers lost 4-0 at home to St. Helens, Hall Road Rangers won 3-2 at Esh Winning and Glasshoughton Welfare were hammered 5-0 at Vauxhall Motors-good to see some positives coming from the Merseysiders.

Locally, Padiham lost 4-1 at Morpeth Town but Bacup Borough enjoyed a great 4-0 home success against Worsborough.

Big winners were Selby Town who beat Askern Villa 12-0, Rocester who won 8-1 at Heather St. Johns and Salisbury, aslo 8-1 winners away from home, at Wincanton Town.

Game of the round was surely at Rochdale Town who went through after a 6-5 home win against Parkgate in truly extraordinary circumstances. The visitors looked to have the game in the bag after only 10 minutes when they’d already built up a three goal lead and that became four on 24 minutes. Goals just before and after half time brought Town back in it and after 70 minutes they led 5-4. An 89 th minute penalty took the game into extra-time where a 113 th minute Rigby strike gave ‘dale the win.

In the FA Cup, former opponents Guisborough Town earned a replay after a fine goalless draw at Ashton United but lost the replay 3-2.

Great Harwood Town played their first game of the season but went down 3-1 to Bay Horse FC.

Late August

Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United side dropped to the bottom of the Championship table after a 4-2 defeat at Q.P.R.

He was soon in the thick of the action, his 20-yard shot in the 8 th minute testing the home keeper and on 22 minutes his 25-yard effort was once again saved.

6 minutes later his close-range right-foot shot whisltled just wide but with Rangers holding the upper hand for most of the rest of the game, it wasn’t until the 74 th minute that he was allowed another opportunity, his shot going fractionally wide.

A home game against struggling Fulham gave them the chance to move out of the bottom three but another defeat left them rooted to the foot of the table.

On 27 minutes his right footed shot was blocked and ten minutes later his 25-yard shot looked destined for the top corner only for the visitor’s keeper to thwart him.

With Fulham leading 2-0, the Millers were awarded a penalty but Matt’s spot-kick was brilliantly saved by the keeper.

On 68 minutes his right-footed shot was saved and 10 minutes later his left-footed effort went just wide with the score still at 2-1.

In League Two, Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon made the long trip to Carlisle United and had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw that had seen them take the lead.

A goal 8 minutes from time then gave them the three points at home to Exeter City, 2-1 the score.

Accrington Stanley drew 1-1 at home to Northampton Town in front of an improved turn-out of just over 1500 fans at the Crown Ground.

In the Conference, Southport sunk to the foot of the table after a 1-0 defeat at Braintree and a similar score at Barrow left them with one point and only one goal after six games.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham aren’t faring much better and they sat 4 th from bottom after a 90 th minute goal condemned them to a 2-1 defeat at Dover.

A terrific 2-1 home success over Tranmere Rovers then lifted them to 17 th.

Almost 2,500 fans packed into the ground to see the Robins storm into a 2-0 half-time lead but when Rovers reduced the deficit with five minutes to go, they saw Alty hang on for the win despite Tranmere’s total dominance in the final few minutes.

A trip to bottom side Southport gave them the opportunity to build on that success but they were well beaten 3-0 and also racked up another five bookings to go with the four they collected against Tranmere.

Paul Clark and his fellow band of Aldershot fans travel the length and breadth of the country following their team and happy journeys home are few and far between but they certainly had a good weekend after a tough-looking fixture at Guiseley turned into a ‘cakewalk’.

I spoke to Paul before the game and we both agreed that a draw would be a good result but no one could have predicted a 4-0 success.

Sadly, they couldn’t build on that win, going down 2-1 at home to much-fancied Eastleigh thanks to a 93 rd minute clincher.

The Bank Holiday then saw them travel to Braintree Town and despite going in at the break one down, they hit back to win 2-1 and move into mid-table.

In the Conference North, Fylde beat Lowestoft 1-0 at Kellemergh Park before a 2-0 win at Curzon Ashton lifted them to 4 th.

Unfortunately they couldn’t make it three in a row as Stockport County won 3-2 on the Fylde.

Boston United made it three wins in a row with a 1-0 home success against Gloucester City, but a single goal defeat at Gainsborough Trinity halted their progress. The defeat was the Pilgrims first competetive loss at the Northholme for 20 years.

Things didn’t go much better in the next game as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Tamworth.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United gained their first win of the camapaign, coming from behind to beat Brackley 3-2 in front of a fantastic crowd of just under 3,000 at Broadhurst Park.

They then built on that success with a tremendous 3-0 win at Hednesford Town before being held to a 3-3 draw by neighbours Curzon Ashton at home.

A last minute winner gave Chorley a 3-2 win at Worcester City but they then went down 1-0 at home to Harrogate Town with James Dean unable to trouble the scorers in either game.

A tough trip to much-improved Stalybridge Celtic followed and the Magpies came away with a fine 1-0 win.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough travelled to pointless Weston-super-Mare confident of three points but at half time they trailed 1-0. Thankfully for Mike and the travelling fans, Borough fought back to win 2-1.

They then won 1-0 at home to Maidenhead United in front of the day’s biggest attendance, 1,011.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Ramsbottom United sunk to the bottom of the table after a 4-1 home defeat against previously winless Hyde United at the Riverside with Bevins scoring a hat-trick in front of 353 spectators.

That crowd was halved for the next game against Frickley Athletic where a 2-0 defeat left the Rams two points adrift at the bottom.

They then earned a point with a 1-1 draw at Whitby Town.

Three goals in the opening 24 minutes at Workington then ended the game as a contest, the Blues eventually going down 4-0.

In the North Division, Clitheroe suffered their first defeat of the season, losing 3-0 at Mossley but they were soon back on the right track with a 4-2 home win against Lancaster City.

Simon Garner’s side then travelled to Pickering Town for a tricky-looking FA Cup tie but breezed through to the next round after a 5-1 win.

Biggest winners at the end of the month were Trafford who beat Prescott Cables 8-0. The Merseysiders remained at the foot of the table after losing their first four games, scoring just a single goal whilst conceding 21.

In the Premier Division, Salford City drew almost 500 fans for their home game against Colwyn Bay but despite leading 2-0, they had to settle for point. A 2-0 win at Buxton then lifted them to 2 nd.

A huge crowd of 636 turned out for the Manchester derby against Hyde United whci the Tigers won 1-0.

Excellent attendances all round on the Bank Holiday with the best at Darlington where 1,767 saw Darlo beat Blyth Spartans 2-1.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, a crowd of 152 saw Darwen come from behind to draw 3-3 with AFC Liverpool at the Anchor.

A heavy 5-1 defeat at Barnoldswick Town was followed by another draw at the Anchor, 2-2 against West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Nelson trailed at Bootle but fought back to win 2-1 and follwed that victory up with another three points at home to West Didsbury & Chorlton. Two goals from Peter Wright helped the Admirals to a 4-2 win but the crowd of 57 was a disappointment.

They were then held to a goalless draw against Ashton Athletic.

Colne trailed 2-0 at home to Runcorn Town but stormed back to force a draw.

Their good start to the season continued as they reached the next round of the FA Cup by twice coming from behind to win 5-2 at Tadcaster Albion.

Padiham defeated Ashton Athleic 2-1 at the Arbories but then lost 3-2 at Silsden.

A few days later the Storks again travelled to Silsden for an FA Cup tie and this time they were successful, winning 2-0 securring a valuable cash influx.

Barnoldswick Town won 1-0 at West Didsbury & Chorlton and then hammered Darwen 5-1 at the Silentnight Stadium having led 5-0 after only 53 minutes.

They made it three wins on the bounce against Squires Gate, 3-0 the score.

A goal four minutes from time condemned Bacup Borougn to a 3-2 defeat at Stockport Town but Brent Peters’ side then gained a point with a goalless draw at Chadderton.

Just 27 spectators then turned up for the side’s home game against Northwich Manchester Villa which they won 4-2.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic are carrying on from where they left off last season and topped the Western League after their 4-0 win at Langwell Green. A 3-1 win at Sherborne Town cemented that top spot place but Evo-stik side Larkhall Athletic ended their interest in the FA Cup by beating te Bucks 3-2.

Things had looked so rosy for the Devon side after they raced into a 2-0 lead after only 10 minutes but the home side hit back to win.

In the FA Cup, AFC Liverpool produced a ‘giant-killing’ beating Radcliffe Borough 3-2 despite trailing 2-0 in the 2 nd half.

Not too many of our recent opponents were involved in the preliminary round but Guisborough Town made it through after a 4-2 home win against Newcastle Benfield.

 

Early August

Matt Derbyshire played the first 70 minutes of Rotherham United’s final pre-season friendly against Leicester City at the New York Stadium where the Millers went down 2-1. It could have been different had the ex-Harwood legend been awarded a penalty just into the 2 nd half but inexplicably, the referee gave a freekick outside of the box. Matt made way on 71 minutes.

The following week saw them host newly promoted MK Dons and it took the ex-Harwood star just 13 minutes to get off the mark. He headed in from a corner but the visitors had already taken the lead on 5 minutes.

On 21 minutes his right-footed shot looked destined for the top corner but was saved and just 40 seconds later his left-footed effort was pushed away for a corner.

From that set piece he set up Ward who’s shot was blocked.

A minute later Matt’s header went just over the bar.

Against the run of play, Dons took the lead on 28 minutes after some comical defending and 7 minutes later they made it 3-1.

Another goal for the away side sealed a great victory with Matt’s only second half chance, a 94 th minute header, drifting over the bar.

A League Cup tie at home to Cambridge United followed and Rotherham made it through thanks to a 1-0 win.

Matt was in the thick of the action seeing his 15 th minute shot blocked, a 24 th minute header over the bar, and a 26 th minute shot again blocked.

The Millers took the lead just before half time and Matt continued with his energetic performance after the re-start.

He saw his 51 st minute header go just wide and 10 minutes later his shot was saved in the bottom corner of the goal. In the 72 nd minute his shot was again saved and the final action of the evening saw his right footed effort fly just past the post.

A tough game at Nottingham Forest resulted in a 2-1 defeat, this despite taking a 13 th minute lead. Matt had seen his 12 th minute header well saved but picked up a yellow card in the 27 th minute.

After Forest equalised in 1 st half stoppage time, he set up a chance for Bowery 30 seconds into the 2 nd period but the attempt was blocked. 10 minutes later his 25-yard right footed shot went just wide.

The Millers then entertained P.N.E. and gained their first league point thanks to a goalless draw, Matt going close with a 1 st half shot and a 2 nd half header.

Don Fitzgearld’s AFC Wimbledon ended their warm-up campaign with a very impressive 3-1 home win against newly relegated Cheltenham Town.

The league campaign started with a tasty home game against Plymouth Argyle and almost 5,000 packed the stadium to see the Dons dominate the early exchanges but they couldn’t make their superiority count with Argyle taking advantage to win 2-0.

The league Cup saw an early exit, the Dons losing 1-0 at Cardiff City without registering a single shot on target.

Andy Procter was named on the bench for Accrington Stanley’s home game against Luton Town.

The Reds looked to be heading for the three points before the Hatters equalised on 92 minutes much to the delight of the majority of the 2,359 fans. Ironically the scorer had the familiar name of Jonathan Smith, not the same one who starred for Harwood and Stanley a few years ago.

The Reds then put up a great show in the League Cup, holding Hull City to a goalless draw at the Crown Ground and 2-2 after extra-time before losing 4-3 on penalties.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot Town fought out a creditable 1-1 home draw with fancied Wycombe Wanderers at the Recreation Ground.

Paul then saw the Shots take control against fancied Gateshead and deservedly lead 1-0 at the break but the Geordies stormed back to win 2-1 in front of over 1,700 fans but even the Gateshead manager admitted that his side were a little fortunate to take all three points.

He then made the trip to Cheltenham where an excellent game ended goalless, mainly thanks to the poor finishing, both sides mustering just one on-target shot apiece.

He was then on the road again, this time to North Wales where the Shots were well beaten 3-0, leaving Paul and his fellow loyal supporters with another long rotten journey back to Hampshire.

Paul Salt saw his Altrincham favourites go down to a narrow 2-1 home defeat against Port Vale and when the serious stuff started, they lost again, 1-0 to Forest Green Rovers with John ‘the beast’ Parkin scoring the goal.

The Robins were then well beaten at Guiseley despite the 1-0 scoreline although they did hit the bar.

A 2-0 defeat at Woking left them bttom of the league.

Southport couldn’t have got off to a worse start in the Conference National, losing 4-0 at home to Eastleigh. They were on top for much of the 1 st half but the Spitfires took the lead before half time and their cause was helped on 48 minutes when ‘port had a player sent off.

The Sandgrounders should then have taken all three points from their trip to Macclesfield Town.

Jones saw his 33 rd minute penalty brilliantly saved and on 60 minutes the Silkmen were reduced to 10 men. Jones then saw his shot beat the keeper but hit both posts as ‘port piled on the pressure in the 2 nd half.

A 2-0 defeat at Cheltenham Town saw them slump to 3 rd bottom.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough led Maidenhead but the visitors hit back to win 2-1 and a trip to Dartford ended with another defeat, 1-0.

A 1-0 win at Wealdstone got them up and running.

Boston United lost 3-1 at home to Conference 2 nd title favourites Grimsby Town at York Street.

Their league campaign saw them travel to a Stockport County side who fielded just the goalkeeper from last season’s squad but the new players gelled quickley to win 2-1 in front of a huge crowd of 3,396.

The Pilgrims then entertained Solihull Moors hoping to get some points on the board but were thrashed 4-1 much to the dismay of the 1,100+ crowd.

Things then improved as two Southwell penalties saw off Curzon Ashton at York Street and they then won 3-1 at Brackley.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United drew 1-1 at home to fellow ‘fans club’ Wrexham before travelling to Gloucester City for their first game of the Conference North where a single goal gave the Tigers the points. United looked to have salvaged a point when the ball struck the back of the net 6 minutes into added time but the ‘goal’ was ruled out for offside.

A second league defeat follwed as they lost 2-1 at home to Stockport County.

Over 3,500 fans saw them pick up their first point, 1-1 at home to Tamworth but they then lost 3-0 at Chorley.

AFC Fylde, one of the pre-season favourites for promotion looked anything like title challengers as they were well beaten 3-0 at Solihull Moors. Ex-Nelson star Richie Allen seeing red for stopping a goal-bound shot on 19 minutes.

The Coasters then recorded their first win by beating Hednesford Town 2-0 at Kellemergh Park.

Another home victory looked on the cards as they led Gainsborough Trinity 2-0 but the Lincs side hit back toforce a draw.

James Dean’s Chorley got off to a poor start, losing 3-2 at home to Nuneaton. The visitors took a two-goal lead before Deano helped set up a Magpies reply only for the visitors to restore their advantage.

Another tough game followed, a trip to North Ferriby United, and they returned to Lancashire shell-shocked after a 4-0 defeat.

They then earned their first point with a 2-2 draw at Corby Town.

Almost 2,000 fans then saw them hammer FC United 3-0 at Victory Park.

Locally, Darwen found Lancaster City in top form as the Dolly Blues won 5-2 at the Anchor while just up the M65 Colne enjoyed a fine friendly win against visitors Glossop North End, 2-1 the score.

Local rivals Padiham enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at Litherland.

Bamber Bridge proved far too strong for Longridge Town where the visitors ran out 8-0 winners.

Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe boosted their squad with the signings of former players Lloyd Dean and Scott Bakkor, as well as Brandon Barski from Colne. Their final warm-up game saw them win 3-0 at Yorkshire side Shelly.

The Blues came from behind to beat Prescott Cables 3-1 at Shawbridge in the opening league game and then recorded a fantastic 5-1 win at Droylsden, once again coming from behind.

Also in the Evo-stik, Ramsbottom United started with two defeats, 2-0 at Rushall Olympic and 1-0 at home to Buxton.

Skelmerdale United and AFC Fylde drew 1-1 and Southport lost 3-0 at home to a Bolton Wanderers XI.

In the NWCFL, Atherton LR were suspended from the competition after failing to meet their financial obligations by the August 1 st deadline but the criteria was met shortly afterwards and the League Committee overturned the earlier ruling, allowing Rovers to compete in the coming season which was good news for everyone.

On the field, an 86 th minute penalty was enough to see off newly promoted Darwen lose at Ashton Athletic but the Salmoners won their first point with a 2-2 draw against Silsden at the Anchor in front of a terrific turn-out of 199.

Also in the Prmeier Division, Nelson made short work of their trip to Runcorn Town, not only stopping the free-scoring Cheshire side from registering a goal, but also hitting four of their own before losing 3-2 at home to Abbey Hey. After 54 minutes the visitors went 3-0 up but just four minutes later it was 2-3 and despite the Admirals best efforts, they couldn’t find the equaliser.

A superb crowd of 269 saw Colne hammer Winsford United 6-2 at Holt House with the newly re-signed Jason Hart hitting four and the prolific Boyle also on the scoresheet. Both players were on target again as a 3-1 win at Maine Road took them to the top of the table.

A cracking 5-0 win at Barnoldswick Town saw them go through to the next round of the FA Cup and the goals continued to flow in the next league game where they came from behind to thrash Darwen 6-1 at Holt House, Boyle and Hart both on target again.

Atherton Collieries enjoyed a fantastic season last term and they started the new campaign with a win at West Didsbury & Chorlton. Things didn’t look too rosy as they trailed 1-0 with only two minutes left but the irrepressible Battersby hit a quick-fire double to earn the points.

Barnoldswick Town lost 4-3 at Congleton Town but then came from behind to beat AFC Blackpool 4-1 at the Silentnight.

Padiham drew 1-1 at home to Bootle and then travelled to all conquering Atherton Collieries for a really tough test but after trailing 2-0 on just 11 minutes, the Storks hit back to record a magnificent 4-2 victory.

Another excellent away performance saw them win 2-1 at Whickham to progess in the FA Cup.

They were then surprisingly beaten 2-0 at home by Barnlodswick Town.

Bacup Borough started off the season in style, leading 3-0 at home to Cheadle Town after only 38 minutes and 4-1 at the break. Just after the hour mark the points appeared to be safe with Brent Peters’ boys winning 5-2 but Town hit back and gained an unlikely point with a 90 th minute penalty.

The defence then went AWOL again at Holker Old Boys, the home side winning 5-2. It was a case of deja-vu as Borough led 2-0 until just before the break but the second half saw one-way traffic.

They went out of the FA Cup at the 1 st hurdle, losing 3-0 at Runcorn Town.

The next home game saw a bit of ‘deja-vu’ as Borough led 2-0 against Atherton L.R. only for three goals in the final 20 minutes give the visitors an unlikely victory.

Biggest crowd of the opening day was at AFC Blackpool where 341 fans saw visitors Runcorn Linnets triumph 2-0.

In the FA Cup so far, here’s how some of our recent opponents and local sides got on:

Guisborough Town beat Sunderland RCA 3-2 at home after a 4-4 draw.

Crook Town went down 6-0 at home to Dunston UTS.

Seaham Red Start held Marske United to a 2-2 home draw but went down 3-1 in the replay.

Norton & Stockton Ancients lost 3-2 at Heaton Stan.

Glasshougton Welfare lost 6-1 at Runcorn Linnets after a 2-2 draw, with Sherlock hitting five for the ‘corn.

Darwen lost 2-1 at home to Washington.

Nelson were beaten 4-0 by Newton Aycliffe at Victoria Park.

Result of the round went to AFC Liverpool who won 9-2 at Chadderton, the evergreen Ronnie Moore making it 7-0 just after half time.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic got off to the best possible start with a 6-1 thrashing of newly promoted Cribbs at Homer’s Heath in the Western League Premier Division, in front of a healthy 141 attendance, but then went down 1-0 at Bridport.

The FA Cup saw Nick’s boys go through after a 3-0 home win against Clevedon Town.

The next home game resulted in a 1-0 victory over Barnstaple Town in front of 112 fans, and those three points saw them go to the top of the table.

Over 4,000 fans, a Midland League record attendance, saw the newly re-formed Hereford win 4-1 at home to Dunkirk.

In the Northern League, things look decidedly bleak for Bedlington Terriers, even after just one game-they lost 8-0 at home to Dunston UTS.

Elsewhere, Winchester City thrashed Bridgwater Town 7-2 with Bentley hitting all five of their 1 st half goals. Three days later he hit four in City’s 6-5 win at Wimborne Town.

The next result was almost inevitable, 0-0!

The goals were still flying in elsewhere in the League, Wantage Town hammered Bashley 9-0 but only 54 fans saw the demolition job.

Winchester then got back on track with a 6-1 win ay home to Marlow with Bentley unable to add to his nine goals.

In the South Midlands League, things don’t look too rosy for Winslow United who opened the season with a 12-3 defeat at Edgeware Town.


   
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