Weekend preview - Saturday 9th/Sunday 10th February 2019

Fri 8th February 2019 | General
By Patrick Burke

This weekend sees 20 fixtures in all three divisions, the First Division Cup quarter-finals and the Buildbase FA Vase.

We’ll start with the latter of those competitions, where Irlam seek to join Northwich Victoria in the last eight in their re-arranged home tie against Chertsey Town.

Michael Dodd’s team sit 13th in the Premier Division, but have had a timely return to form after winning three of their last four matches.

The visitors from Surrey will pose a tough challenge as they sit 2nd in the Combined Counties Premier Division, two points off top spot but with three games in hand. They have lost only once in the league this term.

We are at the quarter-final stage of the First Division Cup, where the highest ranked side remaining are Avro, who sit 2nd in the First Division North having taken 34 points from their last 36.

Standing in their way of the last four are visiting Garstang, who are 8th in the same division after a five match winning run was followed by two draws and a defeat. They were knocked out of the Macron Cup by Avro 7-2 in December, so will seek to avoid a similar fate.

There is another all-North tie as 3rd placed AFC Liverpool host 10th placed Bacup Borough on Sunday.

The home side have won their last six games, and go up against a team who have lost three of their last four having previously been on a decent run themselves.

The one inter-divisional tie sees Carlisle City welcome Ellesmere Rangers. James Tose’s hosts are 6th in the North but have lost six of their last seven, whilst the Meresiders are 19th in the South having triumphed in just one of their last six.

The other two teams remaining from the South division meet as Cheadle Heath Nomads entertain Sandbach United.

The hosts are 10th and will be glad to be back on home soil having lost their last three on the road, whilst Sandbach sit 6th and come into this one on the back of two consecutive away victories.

Andy Hockenhull’s men will be looking to reach at least the semi-final stage for the third campaign in a row.

Onto the league action, and in the Premier Division, leaders City of Liverpool will seek to preserve their 11 point advantage at the top when they travel to Runcorn Town.

The home side sit 7th, and this week saw Chris Herbert resign to take a full-time position at Salford City.

Caretaker manager Paul McManus will be looking to continue his good work against opponents whose run of five straight wins was ended with defeat to Silsden last time out.

A dramatic finish at Abbey Hey a fortnight back saw 2nd placed Bootle make it nine successive league wins as they seek to keep up the pace at the summit.

Next up for them is a home game against 17th placed Winsford United, who have slipped back into trouble and are just two points clear of the bottom two after a seven match winless run.

3rd placed Congleton Town have had a fine campaign but are currently on a run of five games without victory going into what looks a real cracker away at Barnoldswick Town.

Barlick are 4th but have only won one of their last five themselves. The sides played out a goalless draw at Congleton less than a month ago.

Northwich Victoria are 6th and will be buoyed by their Vase success at Histon last weekend which saw them move into the quarter-final, and make it four wins on the spin in the process.

They travel to bottom side Abbey Hey, who are ten points from safety but with two games in hand. They have lost three of their last four, although their most recent setback came in the cruellest of circumstances at the death against Bootle.

The final Premier Division game sees 10th placed Squires Gate play a Silsden side sitting two positions below them.

Gate have won only one of their last four, whilst the Cobbydalers ended their run of six defeats from seven in some style last time out by triumphing at City of Liverpool.

In the First Division North, Longridge Town will hope to take advantage of Avro being in cup action and move nine points clear at the top.

They have won five and drawn one of their last six going into a big match at Prestwich Heys, who sit 5th having got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory at Steeton a fortnight back.

4th placed Lower Breck bounced back emphatically from a defeat at Holker Old Boys by trouncing Cleator Moor Celtic 8-1 last Saturday.

They have now won five of their last six league outings going into a trip to Atherton LR, who sit bottom of the table - 12 points from safety with 12 games remaining.

Shelley in 9th have won just one of their last eight – although that came in impressive fashion at Prestwich – as they travel to Holker Old Boys.

Their opponents seem revitalised, sitting 18th but moving four points clear of the bottom two with back-to-back wins over Daisy Hill (3-0) and Lower Breck (6-2).

11th placed Cleator Moor Celtic have now triumphed in just one of their last six after going down to Lower Breck last Saturday.

They welcome an Ashton Town side who are 15th but in decent form having lost just one of their last six and won two of their last three.

In the First Division South, Rylands were able to exploit being the only team to play last weekend by moving four points clear at the summit with a 3-0 triumph against Eccleshall.

They will seek to pick up where they left as they host 13th placed Stockport Town, although this looks a potentially tricky fixture for the leaders as the Lions have won their last three.

The four teams below them are all tied on 53 points, but Stone Old Alleynians, Wythenshawe Amateurs and Vauxhall Motors are not in action, giving 5th placed Abbey Hulton United the chance to move up to 2nd at home to Maine Road.

The hosts got back on track with a 4-1 victory at St Martins three weeks ago, but go up against January’s Macron Club of the Month, who sit 15th but have won their first four matches under Ray Barnett and Jeff Newman.

8th placed FC Oswestry Town could also close the gap on the sides above them as they travel to New Mills.

Town have won six, drawn one and lost just one of their last eight, in contrast to the 17th placed Millers who are winless in seven.

St Martins in 9th are without a victory in their last seven matches, so will seek to return to form at home to Stone Dominoes. The visitors are bottom of the table, and 11 points from safety after losing their last 10 games.

Lastly, 12th placed Barnton are winless in their last three going into a home game against Cammell Laird 1907, who sit 18th and have won just one but also lost just one of their last six.

After last week’s weather affected schedule, here’s hoping the cold has less of an impact this time around!

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