National League North round-up

A look back at a busy last two match days in National League North…

With the first Saurday-Tuesday double header of the term now consigned to history, Shane Wilkinson casts an eye over the events of the two sets of games.

Usually scheduled for August, the traditional National League North midweek matchdays were pushed back to late October to be played under the lights.

Across the first Saturday-Tuesday double header of the season, we saw a total of five games fall victim to Covid-19, with Gateshead and Brackley Town both seeing no action on either day.

Saturday’s standout result came at The Citadel as James Hanson took full advantage of a defensive mixup to hand Farsley Celtic an unexpected, but valuable, 1-0 victory over AFC Fylde. Jim Bentley’s Coasters swiftly bounced back on Tuesday night though as Ben Tollitt’s double helped them to a 2-0 victory over Spennymoor Town at Mill Farm to extend their lead at the top of the table to four points over Brackley, who have two games in hand. Adam Lakeland’s Farsley side however were unable to follow up on their victory, falling to a 3-0 defeat at The New Windmill Ground against Paul Holleran’s Leamington.

There was plenty of entertainment at The Impact Arena, where Alfreton Town and Hereford played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in which the hosts were pegged back three times. A Miles Storey double saw the game poised at 2-2 with an hour played before substitute Elliott Reeves bagged what many thought may have been a winner for Billy Heath’s side with ten minutes to play. That memo didn’t reach Luke Haines, though, as he rescued a point with the last action of the game. Neither side were in action on Tuesday night.

Keeping with the theme of late goals, the game between Gloucester City and AFC Telford on Saturday certainly had the look of a late bloomer. Jason Oswell’s second goal of the season gave The Bucks a half time lead before Matt McClure equalised just shy of the hour mark. The game sparked into life in the last twenty minutes as Theo Streete was dismissed for a poor challenge, handing the momentum to the hosts. Leon Chambers-Parillon, on loan to Gloucester from Oxford United, looked to have won it with his first goal for the club but Kai Williams chose the perfect time to get his maiden goal for AFC Telford, equalising in the 95th minute to claim a share of the spoils in this clash of interim managers.

There was a second 2-2 draw on Saturday which took place at Brewery Field as Curzon Ashton fought back from 2-0 down to grab a point with, you guessed it, a last minute equaliser courtesy of Matty Waters. The message is clear: do not leave a National League North game early!

The always dangerous Glen Taylor had sent Spennymoor into a 2-0 lead with his ninth goal of the season after Scott McLean’s wind-assisted cross had gone in but that Waters goal after Jack McKay halved the deficit meant that interim manager Craig Mahon would escape with a point in his first game.

Boston United moved into the play off places after taking maximum points from the two matchdays. On Saturday they picked up a 1-0 win at the very windy Croft Park, home of Blyth Spartans, courtesy of a Michael Liddle own goal midway through the first half whilst on Tuesday they were indebted to the award of two penalties to see them get a 2-1 win over York City.

The Minstermen were involved in one of the more mouth-watering clashes on Saturday, emerging victorious at home against Chester by a single goal with the evergreen Mark Beck the man to thank for Steve Watson’s side whose recent form has left their poor start a distant memory. Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s side put this result behind them though with the latest of winners against Gloucester City on Tuesday night. Simon Grand made the score 2-2 with three minutes to go but in the eighth minute of injury time, George Glendon popped up with a captain’s goal to secure the three points and send The Tigers to the bottom of the table following Southport’s maiden win of the season, 3-0 against Darlington. A first half brace from Chris Doyle gave Liam Watson’s Sandgrounders the perfect platform to build upon, with their night soured only by Jack Bainbridge’s red card for his part in a late scuffle that saw The Quakers’ Luke Charman also receive his marching orders.

Harriers of course routed Bradford Park Avenue by a convincing 5-1 scoreline, whilst Tuesday night’s opponents Chorley played out a 0-0 draw up at Guiseley. Jamie Vermiglio’s side sit in fourth place after the 1-1 draw with Harriers, who sit in eighth place, just three points behind. Mark Bower’s Avenue side reacted perfectly to their heavy defeat, showing plenty of character to come from behind on Monday night to beat Blyth Spartans 2-1, with Luca Havern and Luke Rawson cancelling out JJ O’Donnell’s first half strike. Interestingly, the two sides have an identical record, with Spartans sitting in 17th place on what appears to be alphabetical order – a strange occurrence ten games into the season!

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