NWCFL First Division North...the season so far!

Sat 21st March 2020 | General
By Craig Kendall

The 2019/20 NWCFL First Division North season kicked off spectacularly with 40 goals from the opening round of fixtures.

AFC Darwen had a superb opening day victory away at Holker Old Boys, dispatching Brian Hart's side 6-1. Ashton Town were also big winners, beating AFC Liverpool 5-1.

Plenty of midweek games took place throughout the first month of the season, Lower Breck ending the month on top of the pile, having amassed 16 points from their opening seven games. Shelley was only three points behind with a game in hand, whilst at the other end, Steeton propped up the table but had four points on the board.

With the FA Cup and FA Vase taking centre-stage during September most clubs only played three or four league games - St Helens Town being the exception having to play five.

Holker Old Boys managed to notch up ten points during the month, recording two 4-1 victories, as well as a 1-0 win over Atherton LR whilst drawing with St Helens Town.

Lower Breck and Chadderton had superb Sepember's both bagging maximum points, both with one home and two away wins with Breck finishing once again top of the pile, whilst Chadderton moved up to sixth in the standings.

Steeton picked up four points and had moved off the bottom of the league, replaced by Pilkington who had two games in hand.

October saw one of the worst months for the league with only twenty games taking place. Ashton Town and Steeton didn't manage to play a single league game, whilst Emley played four and Pilkington played five.

Emley AFC recorded the best month, with three wins and a draw, whilst Golcar United, Cleator Moor, AFC Liverpool and Daisy Hill had perfect months.

Lower Breck had two games in hand at the end of the month over second-place Emley AFC who had bridged the gap to just a single point. Holker Old Boys and Golcar United made up the two other promotion places with ten other clubs within a couple of wins of fourth place.

The weather held off marginally in November as fireworks on and off the field saw AFC Liverpool max out the points during an incredible run for Chris Anderson's side. Five wins from five, scoring 24 and conceding just four in the month bagged his side the award for the club of the month. Their biggest win of the month came against Steeton - winning 8-1, whilst just two weeks before they had beaten Holker Old Boys 8-2 - both games coming at home in front of decent crowds.

The top three clubs were just separated by a single point as they headed into the festive period. AFC Liverpool had rocketed up the standings whilst Emley AFC slipped to third. Ashton Town had three games in hand and sat in fourth, meanwhile, Garstang and Steeton were beginning to slip behind at the foot of the table.

The Christmas period fell awkwardly for many clubs, with suspensions and injuries taking their toll. Only Garstang had a blip free month in the league. Fellow strugglers Steeton also had a good month - Roy Mason's side accumulating seven points as they dragged Bacup Borough into the drop zone.

With AFC Liverpool only playing three times and only collecting four points, leaders Lower Breck faired much better with 11 points from six matches and stretch their league at the summit to eight points. 

Daisy Hill's eight points also lifted Hart's side into the fourth promotion spot.

The New Year saw plenty of action up and down the region, with plenty of sides finding form at the right time for a charge up the standings.

Shelley bagged 15 points, whilst, Emley AFC managed 14, Golcar United got 12, whilst at the other end of the table St Helens Town failed to score any from their five games and slipped further down the table. Just 15 points separated bottom side Steeton to fourth place Daisy Hill in the tightest league at Step 6 in the country.

February was another month of not much action, with just 28 ties throughout a tough month for the fixture secretary. Three sides (Emley AFC, Chadderton and Nelson) all played just the once - each of them picking up three points as well. Lower Breck and Atherton LR also had perfect months with three and two wins respectively.

Now comes the month that never ended, for now. Only 18 fixtures were completed, with four of them involved Ashton Town. Steeton's three points away at Golcar United on 6th March saw them climb off the foot of the table for the first time in months - as they were replaced by St Helens Town - winless this year in the league.

At the top end of the table, Lower Breck are sitting pretty - ten points clear. AFC Liverpool are joint second with Shelley but have two games in hand. Meanwhile, Emley AFC are just a single point behind them and have games in hand.

The chasing pack including four sides on 46 points (Golcar United, Ashton Town, Prestwich Heys and AFC Darwen) all have played different amounts of games and will be raring for the season to restart to mount a charge up the table.

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