STALYBRIDGE CELTIC make their first visit to the Tameside Stadium on Boxing Day hoping to build on their fine second-half display in last weekend’s 4-2 win at Hednesford Town as they face neighbours Curzon Ashton.
Manager Liam Watson has received an early Christmas present with the news that midfielder Danny Wisdom is fit. Alex Mudimu returns after a three-match ban.
Leading scorer Jack Higgins faces a late fitness test but winger Ben McKenna will miss out again through injury.
CURZON ASHTON have a full squad available. Ben Atkinson has joined Evo-stik NPL side Brighouse Town on a dual registration to get some game time.
In the Evo-stik premier division there’s a throwback to the days of the old Cheshire League when ASHTON UNITED host Hyde United at Hurst Cross.
The Robins’ only absentee is Matt Chadwick. Josh Steadman comes into the squad.
Andy Pearson and Reece Gray return for HYDE UNITED having completed three-game suspensions for being sent off at Ilkeston. However, Ryan Ellison, Sam Fitton and Jordan Snodin are all injured.
Manager Gary Lowe has defended his decision to play three up front in the 3-1 defeat by Darlington when many fans felt the Tigers; midfield was overrun.
“I did it because of the players I had available and because I felt it was our best option. We had already beaten Darlington at their place in the league and FA Cup, and we did that by getting at them. I felt our best chance of winning was to do the same at Ewen Fields,” the Hyde manager explained.
In the first division north, MOSSLEY are home to a full-strength GLOSSOP NORTH END. For the Lilywhites, Andy Keogh and Michael Thomas return from suspension. Lee Wilshaw is back after an ankle injury.
Resurgent DROYLSDEN, now 15th in the table, are away to Radcliffe Borough.
Fixtures for Monday, December 28.
Vanarama North: Fylde v Curzon Ashton, Stalybridge Celtic v Stockport County.
Evo-stik NPL premier division: Colwyn Bay v Ashton United, Hyde United v Salford City.
First division north: Droylsden v Mossley, Glossop North End v New Mills.
GARY LOWE has major headaches ahead of tomorrow (Saturday’s) home fixture with Evo-stik NPL premier division promotion challengers Darlington.
Definitely out for HYDE UNITED are Jordan Snodin and Sam Fitton, who have hamstring injuries, and Ryan Ellison who has a damaged calf. Reece Gray and Andy Pearson both complete the final instalment of their three-match ban.
Spencer Harris, who was substituted at half time in last weekend’s abandoned game with Buxton, also with a hamstring injury, is expected to be fit.
Striker Eddie Toner is available for ASHTON UNITED after returning to Hurst Cross from Telford United. But Matt Chadwick and Alex Frost both miss the game at Skelmersdale.
In the first division north, MOSSLEY bring in FC United midfielder Scott Cheetham for their match at Warrington Town. Tom Pratt is back in contention but Andy Keogh, Mike Thomas and Kyle McGonigle remain banned.
DROYLSDEN’S only absentee for their home clash with Scarborough Athletic is the suspended Ed Dryden whose loan from Stoke City ends tomorrow. GLOSSOP NORTH END have a full squad for their match with Burscough at Surrey Street.
In Vanarama North, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC take on struggling Hednesford Town at Bower Fold hoping that new manager syndrome doesn’t have a part to play.
The Pitmen have appointed Frank Sinclair their new boss after sacking Bernard McNally earlier this week, but Bridge boss Liam Watson is hopeful this will eliminate any complacency from his team.
He will be without Alex Mudimu (suspended), and Jack Higgins is doubtful, but long-term injury victim Danny Wisdom has finally regained fitness. Aaron Chalmers returns after suspension and new signing Daniel Burns is in line for a home debut.
CURZON ASHTON ought to have the measure of Nuneaton Town when the two sides meet at the Tameside Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) in the first round of the FA Trophy.
The Nash have already beaten the Vanarama North leaders this season, but more than that Nuneaton are very similar to the Ilkeston team Curzon defeated in last season’s NPL play-off final. Kevin Wilson and Simon Chettle moved to Liberty Way during the summer, taking several Ilkeston players with them.
Manager John Flanagan said: “They like to get the ball down and pass, which means they always give you a chance. Nuneaton are a good side and I have a lot of respect for them but I don’t think they’ll win the title because they’re young and I believe they lack experience.
“We have to be confident because of our record against Kevin and Simon, but I suppose they’ll feel that by the law of averages they’re due a win against us. The fact that they lost in midweek doesn’t help us either.
“But maybe their being top of the table might will. If we get our noses in front they might decide that promotion is more important to them than the Trophy.”
Kevin Wilson seemed to echo those thoughts when he told the Nuneaton News: “We did not play well when we lost at Curzon and we are hoping to improve on that. It is a free one for us in a way, what with it being a Trophy tie.
“We know that the pressure is off us. We would love to get through, for the club, for the players, for the fans. But we know this competition is a bonus for us this season.”
Ryan Brooke returns for Curzon after completing a suspension, and Connor Hampson is available following a hamstring injury. Andy Watson has signed for Trafford on a dual registration to gain some match fitness.
Nuneaton welcome back midfielder Shane Byrne after a three-match suspension.
If Curzon face a tough task, neighbours ASHTON UNITED have a mountain to climb. They have to visit former Football League club Macclesfield Town who are ninth in the Vanarama national division.
Co-boss Paul Phillips fully accepts that the Silkmen are hot favourites to win but believes he and partner Steve Halford have spotted some weaknesses in their style of play.
“They’re two divisions above us and we’ll be going to the Moss Rose as massive underdogs. But the way we’re playing at the moment I don’t think we need to be scared of anyone. Just lately we’ve been managing to win even when we haven’t played too well,” said Phillips.
“Steve and I watched Macc lose to Eastleigh on Tuesday. They’re a good, organised team but we did spot some weaknesses and we hope to go to their place and exploit them.”
A major plus for the Robins is the availability of striker Dale Johnson who has been struggling with a hamstring problem for the last month. However, Phillips has been more than pleased with the performances of Martin Pilkington.
“Pilky got two against Sutton Coldfield but he might have had five — and that’s not a criticism. He’s stepped up to the plate and been fantastic for us. In the last few games he’s been out of this world,” commented Phillips, adding: “I’ll be surprised if people don’t come knocking on the door for him soon.”
Matt Chadwick and Jody Banim miss the tie with hamstring pulls but everyone else is available.
Ashton may be coming up against the Silkmen at the right time as there are doubts about their top scorer, former Curzon star Kristian Dennis.
He is injured as is midfielder Theo Bailey-Jones. Defender Neill Byrne is suspended. Midfielder Danny Whitehead missed the Eastleigh game and defender Dan Cowan is doubtful.
Manager John Askey has described the Trophy tie as a welcome break that might offer a breathing space to get players fit for the league game with Welling.
Each winning club received £5,000 in prize money.
In Vanarama North, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC will be looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat at Bradford Park Avenue with the first of four festive home fixtures.
Harrogate Town are the visitors to Bower Fold and manager Liam Watson will be looking for a vast improvement from his charges after a performance that saw them register only one effort on goal in the entire 90 minutes.
He will be without Alec Mudimu (suspended) and long-term injury victim Danny Wisdom. Leading scorer Jack Higgins is a doubt, but Watson will be bolstered by the return from suspension of November player of the month Aaron Chalmers.
New signing Daniel Burns impressed on his cameo substitute appearance at the Horsfall Stadium and could be in line for his full debut as the Bridge look to arrest a slide that has seen them lose seven of their last ten games.
HYDE UNITED welcome Buxton to Ewen Fields in the Evo-stik NPL premier division. Dave Birch returns after missing Monday’s Manchester Premier Cup defeat but Andy Pearson and Reece Gray serve the second instalment of a three-match ban.
In the first division north, assistant-manager Aeon Lattie has welcomed a first selection headache of the season for DROYLSDEN who face Bamber Bridge at the Butchers Arms. Domaine Rouse has completed his suspension and Brandon Zibaka is back in training. Ed Dryden is banned.
New signings Scott Cheetham (FC United) and Bobby Lofthouse (Stockport County), both midfielders, are set to play for MOSSLEY at Farsley. Tom Pratt returns but Kyle McGonigle, Andy Keogh and Michael Thomas are all suspended. Mitchell Bryant has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent.
Fresh from their Derbyshire Senior Cup win over Chesterfield, GLOSSOP NORTH END are home to Ossett Town with a full squad.
From the Stalybridge Celtic website. By Keith Trudgeon.
I HAVE two announcements to make today.
Firstly, the sad news is that Syd White is finding combining running his own business and driving the commercial aspect of the club forward an impossible task. There are simply not enough hours in his day and Syd has made it known to me personally that he really cannot commit the required amount of time, so he simply has to take a little step back.
I’m delighted to say though that he is most definitely not exiting stage left. He will still remain an absolutely vital part of the club and will now focus more on the operating side, rather than the commercial and strategic side, of the club. As such, Syd will become the chief operating officer.
Simultaneously though, and after years of trying to get him involved at the club, the personal circumstances of my good friend Ian Milligan have changed, and I’m thrilled to announce that Ian will become the new chief executive officer of Stalybridge Celtic. I have known Ian since our university days together and he arrives with a seriously impressive CV. Ian was a senior manager at Kellogg’s, then sales and marketing director at Camelot before moving on to be CEO of a couple of companies that he grew significantly. His role will be to do precisely that with our club.
His main tasks will be to bring in large new sponsorship, be that the ground, the shirt, a new social club or getting companies to even sponsor matches. We desperately need to increase our revenue so that we can give Liam the best possible budget for next season. I am convinced that Ian will be a major addition to the club and we are fortunate to have him on board.
Both appointments are effective from January 1, 2016.
Ian is delighted to finally be on board and had this to say: "Having supported non-league football for 45 years, known Rob for 35 of those and followed Stalybridge for the last ten, I am really looking forward to this opportunity. I don't underestimate the challenge and look forward to working with the fans, Syd, Rob and the rest of the club to best support Liam on the pitch."
CONFIRMED player movements registered with the Evo-stik Northern Premier League from Sunday, November 29, to 11am on Saturday, December 5.
Scott Cheetham from FC United to Mossley
Robert Lofthouse from Stockport County to Mossley
Lanre Olapade from Ramsbottom United to Mossley
Luke Sharry from Droylsden to Shaw Lane Aquaforce
VICTORY at Hurst Cross tomorrow (Saturday) could take ASHTON UNITED into the Evo-stik NPL premier division play-off places if other results go their way.
The Robins, currently seventh in the table, play Sutton Coldfield who, despite being in lower midtable, were good enough to beat Stalybridge Celtic in the FA Trophy third qualifying round. However, Ashton boast an impressive Trophy pedigree of their own having defeated Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday to line up a visit to National League Macclesfield Town next week.
Co-bosses Paul Phillips and Steve Halford report no injuries or suspensions as they look to extend their unbeaten run to five matches.
HYDE UNITED could do their neighbours a good turn by winning at sixth-placed Halesowen Town. The Tigers, who stemmed a run of league defeats by drawing 1-1 with Frickley a week ago, will be without Andy Pearson and Rhys Gray, both of whom are suspended after being sent off in the game at Ilkeston on November 21 which ended with both teams involved in a mass brawl.
In the first division north, MOSSLEY entertain Brighouse with three players banned: Kyle McGonigle, Andy Keogh and Tom Pratt. Only the suspended Domaine Rouse is unavailable for DROYLSDEN who are away to Ossett Town.
GLOSSOP NORTH END have no match.
In Vanarama North CURZON ASHTON have what looks an excellent chance to pick themselves up off the canvas after Tuesday’s 2-0 reverse at Brackley when they are home to bottom side Telford United.
Ryan Brooke remains suspended. Connor Hampson and Joe Guest are both doubtful with slight hamstring problems.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC take the short hop over the Pennines to Bradford Park Avenue looking to put last week’s poor performance at Sutton Coldfield behind them.
Manager Liam Watson is only missing defender Danny Wisdom (ankle) but is likely to make changes after the FA Trophy defeat.
Forwards Chris Simm and Alex Johnson may be promoted from the bench, and John Shaw could return to the defence after being out with an ankle injury.
Striker Daniel Burns, signed from North West Counties League first division club Northwich Manchester Villa, goes straight into the squad and is expected to play some part.