HYDE UNITED will be without both main strikers in tomorrow’s Evo-stik NPL premier division clash with Matlock Town at Ewen Fields.
Top scorer Ayrton Bevins, who netted a hat-trick at Ramsbottom last week, is unavailable because of a family bereavement. Ryan Masterson, who failed to figure in the opening games because of a knee injury, has left the Tigers and returned home to the Republic of Ireland.
On the plus side, central defender Adam Jones has regained fitness. The rest of the squad are all available.
Cavell Coo is the only doubt for ASHTON UNITED who visit Grantham. The defender has a sore back.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC are gearing up for the bank holiday weekend double-header with a squad shorn only of long-term absentee Alex Mudimu.
Defender Danny Wisdom has recovered from a groin strain picked up in pre-season and could make his long-awaited debut when Bridge make the short trip to Stockport County tomorrow in Vanarama North.
Striker Adam Farrell, who has been on the bench for the past two games, is expected to return to the starting line-up as Liam Watson’s men look for their first away point of the season.
Fellow striker Chris Simm will be available tomorrow and for Monday’s home game with his former club Chorley as the three-match ban he picked up for a red card at Gainsborough does not start until Tuesday.
Jonno Hunt and Alex Frost are both suspended for CURZON ASHTON who are home to Fylde.
Simon Woodford is sidelined with a calf strain and Connor Hampson is still out with a knee injury. Jordan Wright is 50/50 with slight knee ligament damage picked up in training.
The rest of our sides are in FA Cup preliminary round action, hoping to pick up £1,925 in prize money.
DROYLSDEN, who were on the wrong end of a 6-0 drubbing at Glossop in midweek, are away to Barton Old Boys of the Northern Counties East League. Their only absentee is defender Ben Hampson who has ankle ligament problems.
Chris Willcock has a full squad for GLOSSOP NORTH END’s home clash with Prescot Cables, a club they beat 4-0 in the league last Saturday.
Centre-half Ryan Marley could return for MOSSLEY who are home to Bamber Bridge. He trained last night (Thursday) and is available for selection.
Midfielder Danny Murray, signed on loan from Stockport County, could also feature but defender Lee Wilshaw is injured.
Vanarama North: Chorley v Stalybridge Celtic, FC United v Curzon Ashton.
Evo-stik NPL premier division: Ashton United v Colwyn Bay, Salford City v Hyde United.
Evo-stik NPL first division north: Mossley v Droylsden, New Mills v Glossop North End.
TWO games, two draws – zero surprises. That’s the story so far for NWCL champions GLOSSOP NORTH END as they get used to life in the Evo-stik NPL first division north.
Manager Chris Willcock said: “Although we could be going into tomorrow (Saturday’s) game at Prescot Cables with two wins rather than two draws, I’ve haven’t encountered anything I wasn’t expecting.
“The early results have only confirmed my convictions that things are going to be very tight. Clubs are already dropping points and I’m sure no one’s going to run away with the title.
“From our point of view we have room for improvement and we’ll be tweaking a few things. But we’re not conceding goals and if we can start scoring I’m sure we’ll find ourselves in a healthy position.
“One thing that particularly pleased me was the 471 crowd we got against Spennymoor. It was the biggest crowd on the day in either of the first divisions and shows what magnificent support we have.”
Willcock has confirmed his summer signings as strikers Ashley Stott (Witton) and Jamie Rainford (Skelmersdale), winger Astley Mulholland (Chorley) and midfielder Bobby Lofthouse (Stockport).
Tom Bailey, who missed the midweek game at Ossett Albion with a hamstring strain, is unlikely to play at Prescot but should return for Tuesday’s clash with Droylsden at Surrey Street.
Unbeaten MOSSLEY are home to Clitheroe who won 5-1 at the Butchers Arms in their last match.
Striker John Bennett has returned from his brief spell at Curzon Ashton, and Tom Dean, Sam Howell and Josh Greenhalgh are all available for selection. However, Ryan Hibbert has gone on holiday and will be unavailable for ten days.
In the final first division north fixture, DROYLSDEN entertain New Mills, a side managed by Andy Fearn and former Manchester City goalscorer Shaun Goater.
Only four days after a heavy defeat, the Bloods have major defensive problems with Ben Hampson, Andy Langford and Danny Ting all ruled out.
Striker Scott Spencer has tonsillitis and will miss HYDE UNITED’S premier division game at Ramsbottom. Spencer, who was also unavailable for the midweek defeat at Colwyn Bay has a chance of returning for Monday’s home clash with Marine.
Ayrton Bevins, who scored twice in the opening-day draw with Grantham, has a groin strain but should be fit.
Ryan Masterson and Andy Jones have knee injuries. Lee Gregory has a damaged calf.
Paul Phillips and Steve Halford have a fully fit squad for ASHTON UNITED’s match at Stamford. Kevin Leadbetter and Max Harrop have been made available to other clubs so that they can get game time.
In Vanarama North, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC face unbeaten Solihull Moors at Bower Fold.
Manager Liam Watson is giving midfielder Danny Wisdom right until the last minute to recover from the groin injury that has kept him out of the first four games.
Following Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Gainsborough, Watson is expected to shuffle the pack as he looks to find a potent partnership from his pool of four strikers. Adam Farrell came off the bench to open his account in midweek and must be confident of regaining his place.
Still looking for their first National League win, CURZON ASHTON head for Alfreton Town. The only absentee is Connor Hampson who is recovering from a knee ligament problem. John Bennett has returned to Mossley and Tom Buckley has been released.
WHEN Colwyn Bay beat Hyde United with two late goals on Tuesday there was an old fox lurking in the shadows.
Bay’s assistant-boss was Phil Staley, a major figure – and character - in North West non-league football 20 years ago. He is perhaps best known for leading Accrington Stanley, then an NPL premier division side, into the second round of the FA Cup in 1992.
Staley’s managerial career began in the 1970s, and among other clubs he was in charge at Ashton United and Macclesfield. In the late Eighties he reappeared at Droylsden and won promotion to the NPL premier division in 1990 despite having 11 points deducted. He returned to Hurst Cross in 1995.
Among his discoveries were striker Tony Naylor who scored more than 100 goals in a long Football League career at Crewe, Port Vale and Cheltenham.
“One of my first signings at Accrington was Ashley Hoskin. When Ashley was appointed manager at Colwyn Bay at the start of the summer he got in touch with me straight away because although he’s a great coach, he needed non-league contacts,” Staley explained.
“I’m assistant-manager but the fans are calling me the recruitment guru as we only had four players when I got involved. One of our goals against Hyde was scored by former Everton boss Graeme Sharp’s son Chris.
“Even at the age of 70 I’m still there haunting Tameside. I never expected to be back in the game at my age but I’m young at heart and still have my passion for football. I’m really looking forward to the trip to Ashton United in a few weeks when I’ll be able to meet some old friends.”
While clearly delighted with the victory over Hyde, Staley insisted both sides contributed to an excellent game of football and he sees a good season ahead for Gary Lowe’s Tigers.
“Hyde are a decent young side and played well. I think they’ll be up there and will finish in the top six. We still need to strengthen a little at Colwyn Bay and I’m looking to sign a defender and midfielder. But no one is going to give us a trouncing,” said Staley.
Vanarama North previews
JORDAN WRIGHT is the only doubt for unbeaten CURZON ASHTON who are away to Boston United. He has a knee injury and is rated at 50/50 even though manager John Flanagan expects him to be okay.
Joe Guest, Ryan Brookes and John Bennett are all available after suspension but Flanagan is planning to stick with the team that drew 0-0 at highly-rated Telford United in midweek.
The manager completes his three-match stadium ban tomorrow and will be back in the Curzon dug-out against Harrogate Town on Monday night.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC go into tomorrow’s home match with Gloucester City looking for their first win of the season and their first clean sheet at Bower Fold in 12 months, the last being in the 3-0 defeat of Fylde on August 12 last year.
A groin injury means defender Danny Wisdom again misses out and he is unlikely to play at Gainsborough on Tuesday. Midfielder Alex Mudimu is still sidelined with a fractured metatarsal. He is unlikely to return until mid-September.
New season preview
CAN it be third time lucky for Ashton United? After two seasons in which his side missed out on a place in Vanarama North because of penalty shoot-outs, co-boss Paul Phillips believes it can.
But if the Evo-stik NPL title is to become a reality, the Robins can’t afford the luxury of a leisurely start. They have to start winning from day one and keep on throughout the season.
Phillips said: “I think last season showed how important it is to get off on the right foot. With a good start your confidence quickly builds.”
The Robins lost two key players over the summer – Jack Higgins and Ash Young. It was a major blow but Phillips and his partner Steve Halford have reacted by bringing in new talent. They believe the fresh faces can lead to a fresh outlook. The enforced shake-up can work to their advantage.
“We were sad to lose Jack but we couldn’t knock him for going to play for Stalybridge at a higher level. It was a little bit different with Ash joining Bangor but we wish him all the best. And of course Greg Pearson has gone too.
“They were lads we didn’t want to lose but it’s all served to refresh things. We’ve got new faces in and instead of Steve and me doing the same drills and the same things with the same faces, we’ve got a new set-up and a new challenge.”
Phillips believes his new signings will prove highly effective. He describes Southport central midfielder Joe Connor – a former professional – a great acquisition.
Winger Joel Melia, who has been placed on a contract, reminds Phillips of a young Martin Pilkington. Although he’s raw at the moment, Phillips expects him to go a long way.
Chris Sutherland, a winger who made ten first-team appearances for Oldham Athletic, has been signed from Birmingham City. Although he missed several months through injury, Phillips sees him as returning to his best form.
Billy Priestley, on loan from Bradford Park Avenue, will fill the gap in central defence left by Higgins.
Phillips said: “A lot of people have been writing us off this pre-season but our last two results have shown what we can do. We beat New Mills 5-0 and then beat Northwich Victoria 2-0. The victory over Vics was a great one. It was a real physical battle.
“But I can only say again that we need to get off to a good start. I don’t want a hangover from the last two years where we get beaten in the play-offs and are left feeling sorry for ourselves.”
He added: “We’re certainly good enough to get promoted. We just have to make sure we avoid penalty shoot-outs.”