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Vanarama National League North Preview

Posted by Kelly Gilchrist
Posted on Sun 16 Apr 2017
Posted in First Team

The Vanarama National League North is reaching its final furlong as we turn attention to a full programme of crucial Bank Holiday Monday fixtures.

FC Halifax Town’s slender defeat to league leaders AFC Fylde has loosened their grip on a playoff place as the race hots up, but the team will look to get back to winning ways in an all-Yorkshire clash at Harrogate Town – a place where the Shaymen have already won 2-0 in the FA Cup this season. Harrogate will be disappointed this season, having fallen away from the playoff race and gone down 2-1 at Nuneaton this Saturday.

Basement boys Altrincham are playing for pride this season after becoming the first side relegated into the Northern Premier. They still got an impressive three points on the board on Good Friday with a 3-2 win at Curzon Ashton. They face arguably tougher opposition this Monday with Kidderminster making the Manchester visit, still chasing a miraculous overhaul for the league title. Kiddie lie six points behind Fylde with three games remaining.

Kiddie’s last opponents Boston went down 1-0 at Aggborough, and will look to put things right against a 9th-placed Gloucester side who turned out 2-1 winners late on against Stalybridge on Saturday. Boston currently sit 15th, looking to claim a mid-table spot.

Brackley and Gainsborough come together this Monday as the Northamptonshire side look to mount a late playoff hunt, after their recent win over FC United put them within four points of the top five. Trinity travel south with even more urgency, level on points with Worcester as they approach the home straight for survival.

Darlington’s off-pitch concerns over promotion ground-grading did not stop the team on the field this Saturday, putting Alfreton to the sword 3-0 in the East Midlands. They face an FC United side whose games have provided a big entertainment factor this season. The men in red went down 2-1 to Brackley in their last game ahead of their trip to the North East.

If results go their way, Fylde could take the league title on Monday against Bradford PA at Mill Farm.

Top scorer Danny Rowe hit his 44th league goal of the campaign at The Shay on Friday, and will be looking to fire his side to the National League should they win and Kidderminster fail to win. Visitors Park Avenue have steered clear of relegation worry and now sit 16th, eight points into safety. They most recently played out a home stalemate with Tamworth.

Salford City and Curzon Ashton meet on Monday afternoon in a Greater Manchester clash. Lower-placed sides had their day against these two teams this weekend, with Salford losing 1-0 at Gainsborough and Curzon beaten 3-2 at home by Altrincham. Salford will be looking to get back into the playoffs, with Curzon seeing out their season holding their own.

Stalybridge have an intriguing battle on their hands. Successive wins against the top two propelled them back into survival contention, although this was scuppered by a late 2-1 defeat at Gloucester. With four games left to play, they still have hope as they host promotion-chasing Chorley. The Manchester side are in the playoff places after beating Worcester 1-0 and will look to deepen their opponents’ woes to go for non-league’s top tier.

Tamworth’s playoff hopes flickered out some weeks ago, but they will look to maintain a high finish with a result against Alfreton on Monday. The Staffordshire side played out a 0-0 draw with Bradford PA at the Lamb Ground, whilst Alfreton were beaten 3-0 at home by Darlington. They will be looking to secure survival, sitting six points above the relegation zone.

Telford will carry similar aims to Alfreton – they sit seven points clear of the drop and following a creditable 1-1 draw at Edgeley Park against Stockport, will aim to get a win on the board against 12th-placed Nuneaton. The Warwickshire outfit have improved in the second half of the campaign, and beat the Shaymen’s upcoming opposition Harrogate 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Worcester City have plenty to fight for. They sit 20th, in the drop zone by an inferior goal difference to Gainsborough, not helped by an unlucky 1-0 defeat at Chorley. They are back at home this Monday against Stockport, who last time out were held to a 1-1 home draw by Telford.

Their playoff hopes are still very much alive, in 7th two points outside the top five and the club with league-returning aMBitions will still be out to end their frustrating run in the National League North.

Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist