With Storm Dennis consigned to the history books after postponing much of the weekend action, there's a host of midweek football to whet the appetite with games in seven different competitions. Martin Fallon takes a look at the action to come.
Monday 17th February
There is just one game this evening as Maine Road and 1874 Northwich battle it out for a place in the Semi Finals of the Macron Cup.
1874 Northwich won this competition in May by beating City of Liverpool, and they are looking to become the first ever side to retain the trophy. They are in a commanding position at the top of the Premier Division, and have lost just once since the start of November.
Maine Road, who lifted the trophy in 2007/08, are in their first Quarter Final since 2013/14. They have lost just once in their last six First Division South games, and that a narrow defeat to leaders Vauxhall Motors. They are though without a win in their last four games, three of which have ended in score draws.
Tuesday 18th February
Tuesday sees games in seven different competitions, and we will start off by looking at the league action.
In the Premier Division we have one game as Hanley Town take on Irlam at Potteries Park. Hanley have plummeted down the table after recording just two wins in their last 22 games, a run stretching back to September. They did halt a run of five successive losses in their last game, a 1-1 draw at Runcorn Town where they were unlucky not to take all three points.
As for Irlam, they had a bad run from the end of November when they lost eight successive league games, but things have picked up recently for Michael Dodd's men. They have collected maximum points in two of their last three games, and the trip to Stoke should ot prove daunting as Irlam have won exactly half of the 18 away games that they have played this season.
There are three games in the First Division North, and we will start with AFC Blackpool, one of the few teams to play over last weekend. The Mechanics were somewhat fortunate that their weekend game at Golcar United was brought forward to the Friday night, and their 3-1 win saw them climb up to sixth in the table. It was their second win in succession, that coming after four successive losses before that.
Their opponents are St Helens Town who are in the bottom two as it stands, but a win will see them draw them level on points with Bacup. They are on a dreadful run at present though, winning just one of their last eleven league games and they have lost all of their last six games. They did beat Blackpool 4-2 in August, so are going for a league double here.
Atherton LR host AFC Liverpool, and will be hoping to turn around their home form at Crilly Park where they haven't won for ten games, a run stretching back to September. They come into this game though on the back of a superb 3-1 win away at Bacup Borough in their last match, but they will be up against it here.
Opponents AFC Liverpool are flying at the moment, and a 5-1 win at Premier Division side Litherland REMYCA on Saturday put them into the Macron Cup Semi Finals. They sit in 3rd place in the First Division North, 11 points behind the leaders but with two games in hand. They come into this game unbeaten in seven games, with six wins and a draw in those games.
The final First Division North game sees Prestwich Heys host Garstang. Prestwich have lost just two of their last nine games. They have though failed to win in their last three, including a 3-0 reverse at AFC Liverpool last midweek. At home, Prestwich have won 10 of the 18 games they have played, and are unbeaten in their last four games.
Garstang sit in 16th in the league and have won just once in their last six games, although that did come in their last game when they beat Ashton Town at home. Prior to that they have lost their previous five league games, all of which came away from the Riverside. And away from home has proved their downfall this season, where they have won only five of 15 games.
There are two games in the First Division South, and we will start with a local derby game as Cheadle Heath Nomads host Wythenshawe Town, just a mile separating the two clubs. Cheadle won 4-1 away at Alsager Town last weekend, that bringing to an end a run that saw them lose nine of their previous ten games. Home form has been a problem for them, winning just five of 16 games.
Wythenshawe Town have the best defensive record in the division, conceding just 23 goals in their 25 league games and keeping 11 clean sheets this season in all competitions. They are one of the form sides in the division, losing just one of this previous 13 league matches, and away from home they are unbeaten in the league since September.
Please note that the above match is now being played at Wythenshawe Town after the fixtures were reversed.
Across town, Wythenshawe Amateurs host Ellesmere Rangers in the other game. Amateurs have struggled somewhat this season after a fine debut season last season. They are doing better of late though with five wins and just two defeats in their last seven games. Their home form that has been their undoing, and they have lost 10 of their 17 games at home, including a 1-0 defeat to Abbey Hulton United last time out.
Ellesmere Rangers have been having a torrid season in the league, and are in the bottom two after just six wins from 26 games. They have won just one of their last seven games, and lost three of their last four. They have though only lost two of their last seven games on the road, and will fancy their chances here.
Other games on Tuesday see Ashton Athletic host Runcorn Town in a delayed Macron Cup Quarter Final tie.
Ashton, who won this trophy back in 2013/14, are having a fine season and sit in 5th place in the Premier Division. They come into the game on the back of a 1-0 loss at Padiham, that ending a run of six consecutive wins. At Brocstedes Park they have won 11 of the 18 games they have played this season.
Like Ashton, Runcorn Town have lost just once in 2020 from the ten games they have played. They sit two places behind Ashton in 7th place in the league, but have drawn three of their last four games. Runcorn will relish being away from home as their away form is better than their home this season, losing just three of the 16 games they have played on the road.
In the Liverpool Senior Cup, Bootle host Skelmersdale United with a place in the Semi Finals at stake. Bootle are having a great season, sitting second in the league and handily placed to take one of the three promtion spots. They have lost their last two home games, but that is likely a blip as they have won 11 of the 16 games they have played at home.
Skelmersdale were one of a handful of clubs to play on Saturday, but a 2-0 loss at Rylands was their fifth in the last six games. Games on the road have proved tricky for Skem this season, where they have won just five of the 19 games they have played. They did travel to Bootle on the opening week of the season, drawing 1-1.
Finally in the Derbyshire Senior Cup, New Mills will be looking to reach the Semi Finals with Northern Premer League side Belper Town standing in their way. The Millers are unbeaten in three games, and have won their last three games on the road. Their away record this season is far better than ther home record, winning half of the 16 games they have played. Belper sit fourth in the NPL South East division, winning 13 of 22 games this season, although they lost on Saturday at home to Worksop Town.
Wednesday 19th February
Wednesday sees three games in three different competitions, and we will start in the Premier Division where Longridge Town host Whitchurch Alport.
Longridge come into the game six points behind Bootle with two games in hand, this being one of them. Longridge have won just one of ther last six games and picked up five of the last fifteen points on offer, but they boast arguably the best home record in the league with 16 wins from 21 games.
Whitchurch sit in ninth place in the table, and down in 10th on the form guide, but their position in both is due largely to poor home form. They are unbeaten in their last five games away from Yockings Park, and on the road they are have won 10 of the 19 games they have played, losing just five games all season.
In the First Division North, Bacup Borough host Golcar United for the first meeting between the clubs at West View Stadium. Bacup Borough have slipped to third from bottom after winning just two of their last ten games, and they have lost their last four league games. At home they have won five of their 15 games.
Golcar are one of the form teams in the league, with Friday's loss at home to AFC Blackpool their first loss in six games. They have lost nine of the 17 games they have played on the road, although they are unbeaten in their last three games away from home.
Our final Wednesday game sees FC Oswestry Town look to reach the Final of the TJ Vickers Premier Cup when they take on Wellington Amateurs in a game played at Wem Town FC. Oswestry sit second in the league and form tables, losing just one of their last eight games, that coming against Stockport Town in their last home game. They have won ten of the 18 games they have played on the road this season, so an a neutral venue Semi Final shouldn't bother them.
Wellington play in the First Division of the West Midlands (Regional) League, which is effectively a division lower than Oswestry. Like their opponents they are having a fine season, sitting joint top of their league although they have played only 18 games in their league this season. Wellington lost to Bromyard Town in their last game on 8th Feburary, that bringing to an end a nine game unbeaten run.
Thursday 20th February
There is one First Division North game on Thursday, that seeing AFC Darwen entertain Ashton Town. Darwen are in great form, losing just four of their previous 14 games, and their home record is even better. They have won seven and drawn one of their prevous eight games, and they beat Holker Old Boys 3-0 at home on Saturday.
Ashton Town have won two of their last six games, but they sit nine points behind 4th place Shelley with three games in hand so promotion is still in their own hands. They do need to improve their away form though, where they have lost nine of the 15 games that they have played.