Weekend match previews
IF CURZONASHTON reach the Evo-stik NPL premier division play-offs they’ll have to do so without Matty Warburton.
The former Maine Road striker broke a leg 15 minutes from the end of last week’s 3-0 win over Whitby and is out for the season. He’s the Blues’ second fracture victim, joining defender Tom Eckersley who was hurt three weeks ago.
Danny Shaw and Simon Woodford both miss tomorrow (Saturday’s) home encounter with Buxton because of a hamstring injury.
Former Chester midfielder Lee Pugh comes into the Curzon squad having signed from Ramsbottom United.
Manager John Flanagan quipped: “I haven’t run over just one black cat, I seem to have run over two.”
Chris Baguley returns to the squad as ASHTON UNITED try to narrow the gap on FC United by doing a quick double over Kings Lynn who they beat at Hurst Cross only last week.
Kayde Coppin joins Jay Gorton on the injured list while Max Harrop is suspended.
There’s still no sign of improvement to midfielder Sean Myler’s ankle so he misses DROYLSDEN’S trip to Burscough in the first division north where they will be hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to four games.
MOSSLEY cross the Pennines to Brighouse having heard the good news that Arron Hevingham and Brian Matthews are back in training. Otherwise, co-bosses Peter Band and Lloyd Morrison have no injury worries and centre-back Ryan Marley has returned to Seel Park after leaving a couple of weeks ago.
In the North West Counties League premier division GLOSSOP NORTH END are hoping against hope that their game at Nelson goes ahead. The Victoria Park pitch has absorbed a lot of rain over the last 24 hours and there will be an inspection at 9.15am.
If the match is off it will add to the Surrey Street club’s already congested fixture list with the Hillmen having to play twice a week until the end of the season not including the possibility of cup finals.
Fortunately the squad is holding up well and manager Chris Willcock has no injury problems. He said: “We’re looking forward to the game. We’ve built up momentum and nobody wants to miss out.”
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC will be without defender Kelvin Bleau and keeper Lewis King for tomorrow’s make-or-break trip to in-form Bradford Park Avenue in Vanarama North. Both players are likely to miss the rest of the season through injury.
Celtic are looking to snap an eight-game winless streak that has left them five points adrift of safety, and a loss tomorrow could well mean that it becomes Mission Impossible for manager Keith Briggs as he attempts to steer his team out of trouble.
He has brought in Derby County youngster Ross Etheridge on loan to cover for King and, in a separate move, released experienced midfielder Kevin Holsgrove.
Andy Pearson could miss HYDE’S home encounter with Harrogate Town having suffered a badly gashed shin in Wednesday’s defeat at Guiseley.
Youth team midfield Sam Barratt (17) could feature as a substitute.
JUST like a Cheltenham Gold Cup runner coming through from the back, Droylsden are hoping to make a late dash in the Evo-stik first division north play-off places. Or, as assistant-boss Aeon Lattie prefers to put it, “quietly sneak in”.
After a poor January when they lost three matches, the Bloods’ form has picked up over the last month and they have taken ten points from their last five games.
Lattie said: “Things have been better recently and there’s that little bit of a chance that we could still make the play-offs. We’ve found that bit of stability.
“Other sides don’t have as many games in hand on us as they did a few weeks ago and if we can put a run together who knows what could happen. The pressure’s on and it’s all a case of who can handle it best. I’m sure Warrington and Mossley are thinking the same.
“But of course the pressure’s on our players as well and they’ll have to show they can handle it. We’ve still got to play Northwich and Bamber Bridge at home so it’s getting to squeaky bum time. We’ve got to make sure we stay in the mix.”
Lattie believes Salford and Darlington will fight it out for the top two places in the table with as many as ten clubs battling it out for the three remaining play-off slots.
He added: “We’re just trying to keep the pressure on and see where it takes us and to do that we have to get the players to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. There are eight games left and that’s a lot of points to play for.”
Lattie also denied there had been any discord in the Butchers Arms dressing room. “We’ve had lots of changes but that’s because some lads have left thinking the grass is greener on the opposite side.
“Adam Morning had one great game for us and then went to Salford and I think he’s hardly played.
“We’ve got some decent lads coming through and they’re responding to the way we like them to play.”
FC UNITED hold all the aces in the Evo-stik NPL championship race, but they can be sure ASHTON UNITED are ready to pounce if they stumble.
The Rebels could go seven points clear of the Robins if they win their game in hand but in midweek they were held 1-1 at Rushall Olympic while Ashton beat Kings Lynn 3-1.
Tomorrow (Saturday), it’s FC’s turn to entertain Kings Lynn while the Robins visit Buxton who started the season well but suffered indifferent form in February when they failed to win a game.
However, co-managers Paul Phillips and Steve Halford have problems in defence. The influential Jay Gorton, who suffered a broken cheekbone in last weekend’s win at Halesowen, is definitely out. Mark Haslam is described as 50/50.
Rhyl striker Ashley Stott is set to make his debut for CURZON ASHTON who are at Trafford. Team captain Sam Walker has a back injury and is unlikely to play.
After a couple of good wins, the Blues could only draw with bottom club Belper on Monday and need three points tomorrow to keep their play-off hopes alive.
In the first division north, MOSSLEY have signed Radcliffe Borough midfielder Ryan Hibbert, a product of Macclesfield Town’s youth system.
Another new face could also appear for tomorrow’s home match with Prescot Cables as the Lilywhites pick themselves up after Tuesday’s defeat by Bamber Bridge – their first of 2015 – when they succumbed to the curse of being club of the month.
Apart from long-term injury Arron Hevingham, Peter Band and Lloyd Morrison have a full squad. Dean Warburton is back in training.
DROYLSDEN have no absentees for their clash with Spennymoor at the Butchers Arms.
HYDE go into their home match with Guiseley looking to extend a three-game unbeaten league run, something they have not enjoyed since the 2012-13 season.
Defender James Burke misses out with a back injury sustained at Gainsborough last week. Academy striker George West should get a place on the bench.
Manager Gary Lowe said: “It’ll be a good test for us and there’s no reason why we can’t win.”
Relegation-haunted STALYBRIDGE CELTIC, who have failed to win any of their last six matches, have an extremely difficult four days ahead of them.
Tomorrow Vanarama North leaders Barrow are the visitors to Bower Fold and on Tuesday they travel to FA Trophy finalists North Ferriby who are in second place. After that, however, Bridge have a run of games against clubs from the other end of the table including back to back matches against Bradford Park Avenue.
Keith Briggs’s only absentee is defender Kelvin Bleau.
KIERAN LUGSDEN has been cleared to play in Glossop North End’s FA Vase quarter-final replay with Barnsley side Shaw Lane Aquaforce on Saturday.
The former Buxton striker hurt a shoulder during last Sunday’s original match at Handforth Parramore’s Sandy Lane ground when he went into a challenge with two home players. They landed heavily on him and he was immediately substituted as a precaution.
Manager Chris Willcock said: “It’s very good news to know that Kieran is able to play this weekend as we were worried he would need a last-minute fitness test. We knew it wasn’t a massive problem but we wrapped him in cotton wool and rested him for Wednesday's win over Barnoldswick.
“The rest of the squad is fine and we’re looking forward to what I expect to be a cracking cup-tie. We’re expecting another good crowd and we need them to get behind the lads and cheer us on.”
However, Willcock was generally unhappy with his side’s performance, even though he accepts that a draw was a fair result. The Hillmen twice had to come from behind and failed to take advantage of several good chances.
“To be fair, I have to say I was disappointed with the way we played because I felt we had some good opportunities to win. We made too many big mistakes which allowed Shaw Lane to get their noses in front and we were left chasing the game. And we didn’t pass the ball like I know we can,” said the manager.
“Over all I don’t think either side did enough to go through on the day. We’ll have to do a lot better at our place on Saturday and I’m sure they’ll be of the same opinion. That’s why I expect it to be such a good match.”
If Glossop go through they will meet Cornish side St Austell in the semi-finals but Willcock refuses to look so far ahead.
He said: “There’s no point in getting carried away. First of all we’ve got to beat Shaw Lane. That’s where my sole focus is and I’ll make sure it’s the same for the players. If we go through we can turn out attention to a trip to the West Country, but at this moment St Austell doesn’t interest me.”
FANSare invited to have lunch with Mike McKenzie and Gordon Tucker in Hyde United’s Pete O’Brien Lounge on Saturday, ahead of the Vanarama North game with Guiseley.
McKenzie managed the Tigers from 1994 to 2001 and led the club to two FA Trophy semi-finals, the first round of the FA Cup, the NPL Cup, NPL Chairman’s Cup, Peter Swales Shield, Cheshire Senior Cup and three Manchester Premier Cups.
Tucker, nicknamed The Terminator, came into the side at the end of the 1994-95 season and his uncompromising style of defensive play immediately made him a fans’ favourite. He was a star of the side that narrowly lost to Kidderminster Harriers in the last four of the 1995 FA Trophy.
Hyde are putting on a supporters’ special for the day offering
· Match admission.
· A two-course meal.
· Two complimentary drinks per person from the bar.
· Matchday programme and team sheet.
This is all for just £10 (season ticket holders) and £20 (others) and represents unbeatable value.
The lunch will also feature the regular interview with manager Gary Lowe, a prize quiz and other pre-match activities – plus a chance to meet former Premier League referee Roger Dilkes and Hyde United striker Simon Yeo.
Book early to avoid disappointment. Contact commercial manager) Alan Hackney on 07803 555124 or chief executive Pete Ainger on 07847 439919 to book.