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

Sun 22nd March 2020 | General
By Tom Besford

The opening day of the Division One South season started in the manner it was to continue with FC Oswestry taking the top spot with the club not having dropped below second since August. Current division leaders Vauxhall Motors also started with a victory sitting in fourth spot after the opening day of the season without dropping out of the promotion places since the opening week. Thirty-four goals were scored in ten games on the opening Saturday with Oswestry Town’s 4-0 victory at Abbey Hulton United and West Didsbury & Chorlton's’ 4-0 victory at Eccleshall were the biggest wins of the day whilst Cheadle Heath Nomads and Stone Old Alleynians played out the only draw as the game ended 1-1 in South Manchester.

Maine Road claimed the top spot on the Monday night as they drew 2-2 at home to Abbey Hey thanks to an injury-time equaliser from Ben Mooney but this only lasted twenty-four hours as Vauxhall Motors beat Barnton 4-0 to rise to the summit. The first midweek round of the season also brought the first postponement as New Mills v Cheadle Heath Nomads was called off due to the damaged dam in Whaley Bridge. The midweek period also saw the first hat-trick of the season as Tawanda Melusi scored three in twelve minutes as his St Martins side beat Ellesmere Rangers 4-2. FC Oswestry Town recorded another big win without conceding as they beat Eccleshall 5-0 meaning they had scored nine and conceded none in their first two games

A reduced Saturday of fixtures saw Eccleshall pick up their first victory as they beat Sandbach United 2-1 whilst FC Oswestry Town took advantage of Vauxhall Motors not playing in the league to create a gap at the top beating Alsager Town 5-1 in the process. Six clubs remained winless entering the fourth matchday of the season. The teams involved in the FA Cup quickly caught up with fixtures the following Tuesday with Vauxhall Motors recording the biggest victory so far with an 8-0 win over New Mills.

The following Saturday saw both Vauxhall Motors and FC Oswestry Town extend their 100% record. West Didsbury & Chorlton, Cheadle Heath Nomads and Stone Old Alleynians continued their unbeaten runs whilst New Mills and Ellesmere Rangers were both searching for their first points of the season. Alsager Town and Wythenshawe Amateurs played out the first 0-0 of the season throughout all three divisions.

Eccleshall beat Ellesmere Rangers 9-0 in the final midweek games of August before an entertaining end to the month saw both FC Oswestry Town and Vauxhall Motors lose for the first time this season as Oswestry lost 4-0 at Sandbach United before recovering quickly to beat Vauxhall Motors 2-1 on Bank Holiday Monday.

September saw a reduced amount of league fixtures due to the domination of cups. Stone Old Alleynians and West Didsbury & Chorlton also saw their unbeaten runs ended as Stone lost 3-1 to Vauxhall Motors before inflicting a first league defeat on West Didsbury beating them 2-0. New Mills and Ellesmere Rangers also picked up their first points of the season with New Mills recording their first win as they beat Wythenshawe Amateurs away 2-0.

October was a month affected heavily by the weather and the number of cup games played meaning only twelve league games took place. Wythenshawe Town beat Abbey Hulton United 9-0 and New Mills 4-0 Whilst Sandbach United beat Maine Road, Stockport Town and New Mills. At the end of the month, FC Oswestry had a comfortable nine-point lead on second place but Vauxhall Motors had four games in had on the leaders. Stone Old Alleynians and West Didsbury & Chorlton occupied the remaining two promotion spots with Abbey Hey, Wythenshawe Town and Sandbach United all close behind within three points from the top four. At the bottom, Ellesmere Rangers were bottom as they

still searched for their first win of the season whilst New Mills sat three points ahead. Stockport Town, Cheadle Town and St Martins sat just above the relegation zone.

November started with Oswestry Town winning 1-0 at Wythenshawe Amateurs with the only goal of the game being an own goal and New Mills and Cammell Laird playing out a 4-4 draw in a game which saw two own goals and two penalties. Cup games continued to take over at the beginning of the month and we even had a match at Oswestry Town called off due to snow. New Mills had a month to remember with three wins and a draw from seven games as they slowly climbed away from the relegation zone, however, one of their defeats happened to be Ellesmere Rangers first win of the season as Rangers won 2-0. November is also the month that Stockport Town appeared in the news around the country due to the club signing former Welsh international Robbie Savage.

Vauxhall Motors went into December at the top of the league with Abbey Hey and Eccleshall sneaking up the league sitting in fourth and fifth as West Didsbury dropped to sixth. At the bottom and Ellesmere Rangers were joined by St Martins in the bottom two with Alsager Town just above the drop. The race for the top four was starting to heat up and with West Didsbury & Chorlton losing to Stockport Town 2-1, Vauxhall Motors and Maine Road 3-0 and drawing 2-2 with St Martins. Abbey Hey took the final promotion spot at the turn of the year as they built a seven-point gap with two games in hand. Wythenshawe Amateurs replaced Ellesmere Rangers in the bottom two with Barnton and Alsager Town sitting just above.

Little did the clubs realise what was still to come this season as the league was hit by Storm Ciara and Dennis and the Coronavirus suspension of football. The new year started with thirty goals in the opening game week Stockport Town and St Martins both recorded 4-1 victories over Cammell Laird and Abbey Hulton United respectively. Ellesmere Rangers picked up a superb 3-3 draw at Oswestry Town after crossing three goals in the last ten minutes including the equaliser deep in injury time. Cheadle Town went the month unbeaten with five wins and a draw climbing away from the lower reaches of the table. As the wet weather started to arrive more games found themselves falling foul to the storms but the month ended with New Mills beating Cammell Laird 5-4 and West Didsbury & Chorlton beating Cheadle Heath Nomads 5-0 in a game week which saw thirty-eight goals in nine games.

Going into February and Eccleshall occupied the final promotion spot with West Didsbury & Chorlton and Abbey Hey just a point behind. St Martins and Barnton occupied the bottom two spaces with Ellesmere Rangers and Abbey Hulton United a few points ahead. Early on in the month and the bottom two sides met at Townfield as Barnton beat St Martins 1-0 before following this up with a 2-0 victory at Cammell laird.

March followed a similar route to February with a lot of postponements however this was hugely due to the current pandemic of Covid-19. The groundhop took part at the beginning of the month with record crowds at all grounds Sandbach United, Wythenshawe Town, Wythenshawe Amateurs, Cheadle Heath Nomads and Cheadle Town all hosted games across the weekend and the hoppers were treated to a high number of goals and entertainment. The last round of fixtures took place on the fourteenth of March and Vauxhall Motors victory at West Didsbury confirmed promotion for the club. Vauxhall Motors, FC Oswestry Town, Stone Old Alleynians and Wythenshawe Town currently occupy the top four spots whilst Alsager Town and St Martins occupy the relegation zone.

Will the season finish? Will teams be promoted and relegated? Will the season just end how it is? No one knows and only time will tell. For now, we have a little rest and get ready to go again whenever that may be.

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