National League North round-up

A look at the latest rounds of games in our division with one eye also on this weekend’s games.

Courtesy of the Emirates FA Cup, the National League North saw a somewhat reduced programme last Saturday, while a couple of games took place on Tuesday night, writes Shane Wilkinson.

During this time, the League Sponsors awarded their latest Manager of the Month and Player of the Month gongs, with York City’s Steve Watson and our very own Ashley Hemmings the lucky recipients, respectively.

On the pitch, AFC Fylde remain top of the table but now only on goal difference following their defeat last weekend to high-flying Curzon Ashton in what was Adam Lakeland’s first game in charge after being installed as their new manager. Lakeland is no stranger to The Tameside Stadium, having been a part of John Flanagan’s backroom staff when The Nash were promoted to this level. Goals from Matty Waters and Dale Whitham ensured the Lakeland era began perfectly. Both sides have tough looking fixtures coming up, with Curzon Ashton travelling to York City whilst there is a mouth-watering clash in store at Mill Farm, as Brackley Town visit AFC Fylde in a high-stakes game where the winner goes top of the table.

Sat in third place, seven points adrift of the top two, are Jamie Vermiglio’s Chorley side who tasted defeat in the league for the first time since August as Miles Storey handed Hereford a rare win. The victory win was the Bulls’ first since September and they travel to Guiseley this weekend in search of consecutive league games without defeat for the first time this season. Guiseley, however, will be looking to bounce back from their narrow FA Cup First Round defeat away to League One side AFC Wimbledon.

Chorley face a tough assignment of their own, welcoming Paul Holleran’s Leamington team fresh off a 2-0 victory over York City on Tuesday night with Joe Clarke scoring the pick of the goals with an effort from the halfway line. The Brakes currently sit in fourth place as they continue to shake the tag of relegation favourites that they are handed every season at this level.

Sitting in fifth place are Boston United, who travel to Southport after a day to forget last Saturday. Danny Elliott and Scott Duxbury both saw red in a fiery affair which saw them lose 4-0 away to Chester. Both players will be unavailable for that trip to Merseyside, with Elliott’s goals due to be a huge miss; he has 10 in all competitions. As for Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s Chester side, their inconsistent start to the season continues. In the league, they are yet to secure back-to-back results of any kind, a streak they will be keen to break as they host Darlington. As one may expect with such a record, they find themselves firmly ensconced in midtable, with an identical goals for and against tally – 22.

Unbeaten in seven league games and in sixth place, Billy Heath’s Alfreton Town side have made sure their slow start to the season has been firmly forgotten. Their latest win on the road came at Spennymoor Town last weekend. For the second week in a row, Yusifu Ceesay and Bailey Hobson found themselves on the scoresheet and they will be looking to keep that golden touch going as they travel to a Gateshead side who were pegged back by National League side Altrincham in the FA Cup. Should the Heed be successful in next week’s replay, they will be rewarded with a dream trip to The Valley to face Charlton Athletic, but Mike Williamson will be at pains to keep his players’ minds on the job at hand on Saturday.

Tuesday night’s other game saw a comfortable victory for Brackley Town over Spennymoor Town, with goals from Lee Ndlovu and Twariq Yusuf stretching The Saints’ unbeaten run in the league to five games. The result was never really in doubt, and Tommy Miller will be hoping his Moors sides fortunes will change as they visit Bradford Park Avenue. Not only have they lost their last four games, they have done so without scoring a goal, conceding ten in the process.

Darlington have registered back-to-back wins for the second time this season after their 3-1 win against Kettering at Latimer Park. They will be without top scorer Luke Charman for their trip to Chester though, with the striker suspended and struggling with a shoulder injury.

Michael Nelson’s Blyth Spartans side are stuck firmly in a rut, having lost their last seven games in all competitions, with Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Leamington the latest in the run that sees them remain second bottom. They take on Kettering Town, who last tasted victory in the league back in September.

Rooted to the bottom are Gloucester City, with interim manager Lee Mansell seemingly unable to turn The Tigers’ fortunes around since parting company with Paul Groves six weeks ago. Their loss to Brackley a fortnight ago was the latest defeat in an abysmal run of form that has seen them pick up a miserly two points from 33 available since their last league win, having not had a game at the weekend. They host Farsley Celtic in what will be Neil Ross’ first game as permanent manager after a two-game spell as caretaker manager. Their goalless draw against Brackley last weekend was their fourth draw of the season, but their first since August when they had three in a row.

Finally, Harriers host an AFC Telford side who tasted defeat on Saturday by the odd goal in five against Bradford Park Avenue. At a fans forum during the week, interim manager Dennis Greene was confirmed as continuing in the managerial hot-seat for now – Chairman Andy Pryce’s admitting that the search for the new man was still ongoing.


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