Once again we are back at one of the best times of the year. The days are longer and the weather is finally warmer, but it is not just the weather that is heating up.
The Vanarama National League North has entered its final month of the campaign, with the race for a play-off spot now firmly in full swing. There have been some surprising results in the last few weeks that have now left the door open for more teams to creep into the top five.
As for this week, all 22 teams will be in action with some interesting fixtures being thrown into the mix. First off, the Shaymen travel to second placed Kidderminster Harriers in what will be a crucial game for the remainder of the season.
Town sit just five points behind Saturday’s hosts, meaning a win would close the gap to put pressure on Harriers as well as AFC Fylde, who have seen their lead at the top reduced to six points.
Not only that, Town could also distance themselves from the chasing pack, therefore putting fears of a late drop-out at rest for the foreseeable future. Although, this is not the only exciting fixture this week, as Fylde face Darlington 1883 at home.
The league leaders have seen a slight dip in form of late, having not won since early March and being on the receiving end of a 4-1 hammering to mid-table Nuneaton Town. On the other hand, Darlington have not lost since late February, with the aim of closing the two point gap between them and Stockport County in fifth.
Elsewhere in the play-offs, Salford City face a struggling Altrincham, who could be relegated if Worcester City earn the full three points against AFC Telford United. For Salford, this would be a great opportunity to overtake Town if the Shaymen are unable to beat Kidderminster (let’s all hope this is not the case).
Wrapping up the top five are Stockport, who face a Nuneaton side fresh off the back of that impressive victory against Fylde. This could set up a decent-looking tie as Nuneaton will be searching for their third win in a row, although Stockport have not succumbed to defeat since the end of February.
At the other end of the table, Worcester and Telford will have a crucial tie on Saturday if they are to pull away from the chasing relegation pack. The two sides, placed in seventeenth and nineteenth respectively, have seen relatively poor form in recent times, only managing four wins between them in their last ten games.
Stalybridge Celtic, who have four games in hand on the majority of the league, face Town’s opponents from last week, FC United of Manchester.
As we all remember, the impressive 3-0 victory put the traveling Shaymen in good spirits, although FC United quickly bounced back with a 2-1 win over Curzon Ashton on Monday night.
For Stalybridge, it looks like this could be a difficult fixture. This will be one of their must-win games towards the end of the season if they are to have any hope of staying in the Vanarama set up.
Saturday’s other fixtures:
Alfreton Town v Bradford Park Avenue
Brackley Town v Boston United
Chorley v Gainsborough Trinity
Curzon Ashton v Gloucester City
Tamworth v Harrogate Town
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