Groundhop - Preview & Postcodes

Fri 4th March 2022 | Match Previews
By Martin Fallon

It's the 2022 edition of the NWCFL Groundhop this weekend, with hundreds of keen groundhoppers set to visit seven of our clubs across the East Lancashire and Yorkshire part of our region.

Starting in 2017, the now annual event (Covid aside) sees clubs in a particular area given staggered kick off times which allows groundhoppers to attend multiple games in one day. We preview the seven games chosen this season below, kicking off this evening at Golcar United with the final whistle blowing on Sunday at Ilkley Town.

FRI 04 MARCH 7.45pm

It's something of a local derby for our first game, as Campion make the 17 mile journey to face Golcar United.

Promotion chasing Golcar have been in and amongst the top three all season, but their hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier Division have took a bit of a hit lately with no wins in their last four games. That form has seen then drop 12 points behind leaders Bury AFC. They are still comfortably within the play-off spots and if they are going to turn it around then the Skye Direct Stadium will likely be the place to do it.

They've played 15 times at home this season, with 11 wins and just one defeat. They are also second in the goals scored table with an average 2.5 goals a game this season, with Ashley Flynn showing the NWCFL what the NCEL already knew about him by leading the scoring charts with 32 goals from 26 games played.

Campion are in their first season in the NWCFL after being laterally moved across from the NCEL last summer. They struggled at first with just two wins from their opening 11 games of the season, but have turned things around and are 11th in the table as we come into this game.

They are 13 points off the play offs with just 24 to play for, so making them will be difficult. They have won two of their last three games, with Aidan Kirby scoring four in their last five games.

SAT 05 MARCH 11.00am

Bacup Borough kick off our Saturday programme with an intruiging game against St Helens Town. Its 6th v 19th in the table so you'd think a home banker, but only last week St Helens beat Bacup 6-1 in the First Division Cup so anything is possible.

Bacup are having their best season since relegation from the Premier Division in 2014/15, and are one place outside the play-off's at present. They have lost their last two, but at home they are great with just one defeat from 14 games at the Brian Boys West View Stadium this season in the league.

A win here coupled with AFC Blackpool failing to win would see them back in the top five with a month of the season remaining. Lewis-Simon Byrne is leading scorer with 14 goals including five in his last five games, with Goalkeeper Henry Turner leading the way with most Man of the Matches this season.

St Helens Town are having a torrid season and will finish in the bottom two. Staying in the NLS will very much depend on reprieves once promotion from the County Leagues is sorted, so picking up as many points as possible is important to up their average points per game.

They come into this game having won their last two games, including that win over Bacup. Goals is not a problem with only five games this season where they have failed to score, but they have yet to keep a clean sheet this season. One to watch is Elliot Hughes, who has scored 16 goals in 14 games this season including eight goals in his last four games!

One last thing, if you are heading here, then do get there early to secure yourself a slice of the famous Premiership Pie!

SAT 05 MARCH 2.00pm

Padiham are next up with a home game against Ashton Athletic. Its been a strange season for both at the wrong end of the table, but they have both picked up enough points recently to ease any relegation worries that they may have had.

The Storks come into this game 4th in the form table, with four wins and two draws from their last six games. This run has lifted them to 14th in the table and they need just a point to be mathmatically safe for another year.

The form this season has been caused by a lack of goals, with Joel Brownhill, Marcus Perry and Jamie Ramwell all on eight goals. They do though have the 8th best defensive record in the league, so perhaps expect a tight game here on Saturday.

Like Padiham, Ashton have picked up recently with three wins from their last four games. They are not safe yet, but a win at Padiham with results going their way elsewhere would secure Premier Division football for another season.

Surprisingly Ashton have the worst defensive record in the division, conceding almost 2.5 goals a game on average. It would likely be more had it not been for goalkeeper James Aspinall, who has picked up seven Man of the Match awards this season so far. Keep an eye out for their leading scorer Josh Nicholson, who scored a hat-trick recently against Skelmersdale United.

SAT 05 MARCH 4.00pm

You want close and competitive games in the Groundhop fixtures. You can't get closer than these two, who are both chasing play-off positions and who are separated in the league table by goal difference.

Nelson are having their best season for many a year. After relegation from the Premier Division in 2016/17, they have never finished higher than 14th, but they come into this game just four points off the play-off's in 7th. Form wise they are doing well, with four wins in their last five games, and with only Holker Old Boys to play who are above them, they will be confident of claiming an unexpected play-off spot.

They have the fifth best attack in the division, with Jack Foster two goals away from hitting the 20 mark for the season. Jack has scored in each of his last four games, netting seven in total. Brian Mabhena leads the way with most Man of the Match awards.

Chadderton are just one place behind Nelson in the table, that on goal difference having played one game more. They come into this game second in the form table with five wins and two draws in their last seven games. That position belies the fact that they have the worst attack in the division with just 41 scored in their 30 games. However they have only conceded the same amount, which gives them the fourth best defence in the division.

Ethan Sutcliffe is their leading goalscorer with 12 goals this season, with the next best Adam Dale back on just seven. As mentioned, their defence is key this season, and its no surprise to find defenders Joseph Richards and Jordan Schofield picking up most Man of the Matches so far.

SAT 05 MARCH 7.30pm

It's another game where teams are scrambling for points for different reasons as Avro travel to Barnoldswick Town.

Barlick, as they are affectionately known, are having a terrible season by their own high standards. Since promotion to the Premier Division eleven years ago, they have only finished lower than 11th twice (covid hit seasons excluded) yet come into this game just one place above the drop zone. They have failed to win in their last 14 games, their last win coming in early November when they beat AFC Liverpool.

Their usually strong home form is one of the main reasons with just four wins from 20 games in all competitions at the Silentnight Stadium. Yet they don't lose many there, with half of home games ending in draws. They are 11th in the scoring charts and 13th in defensive charts, indicating that their games are great for neutrals! Indeed nine of their 38 games this season have ended 2-2!

Avro are 5th in the table, but they have only won one of their last six games. They can still mathematically finish second, but it would take an extraordinary collapse from the three teams above them, so its planning for next season now really for Avro. They have a better home record than on the road, but 21 wins from 43 games this season in all competitions show that they are a force to be reckoned with no matter what venue.

Louis Potts is leading scorer for Avro with 16 goals, although its strike partner Liam Ellis who leads the way on Man of the Matches with five, although Liam has 15 goals to his name also.

SUN 06 MARCH 11.30pm

It's a big game for both teams this, with Steeton lying in 14th place in the table and Ashton Town two places below them in 16th.

Steeton were promoted to the NWCFL in 2018/19 but have only had one completed season which saw them finish 15th. They will look to improve on that finish this season, but will have to turn around form that has seen them win just one of their last nine games. The lack of goals is the main problem for Steeton this season, with 44% of their games this season seeing them scoring just one goal or less.

Steeton's biggest win of the season came in the reverse fixture back in October when they won 6-2. Leading scorer Kayle Price scored a hat-trick in that game, and he is on 25 for the season for Steeton. Strike partner Andrew Briggs also grabbed two in that, and as well as his 20 goals this season, he has also picked up seven Man of the Match awards.

Ashton are just one place above the bottom three as we head into this game, and they are bottom of the form guide with four successive losses coming in, that after three wins in their previous four games. Goalscoring does not seem to be a problem for Ashton, who have only failed to find the net in two of their 30 games this season. At the other end though they concede almost 2.4 goals a game on average, the fourth worst in the division.

What's the bets on a goalless draw here? Its been 67 games since Steeton have had one and 108 games since Ashton Town have!

SUN 06 MARCH 2.30pm

The last game of the Groundhop comes on Sunday afternoon as Ilkley Town host Garstang. Ilkley are in their first season in the National League System after promotion last season, and they come into this game in 15th after a difficult start to the season.

After losing seven of their opening nine games, they have adjusted to life well and steadily climbed the table. They are suspect defensively, conceding two or three goals in 26 of their 35 games, but they have the ninth best attack in the division, a better ratio than second placed Holker. When it clicks they are capable of some good result, as highlighted last time out when they beat Golcar United 6-2 at home.

They've only won two on the road, so its the home form that is doing it for them at present, and they have only lost two of their last nine at home. Keep an eye out for Kevin Gonzalez Mele who has scored 21 goals for Ilkley in just 29 games, including a hat-trick against Golcar.

Garstang are 9th in the table and seven points off the play-off's, and even if they win all of their remaining eight games, they need some luck to finish in the top five.

They come into the game with a record of 2-2-2 in their last six, and its that indifferent form that is the story of their season with 11 wins, 11 draws and 10 losses. Even home and away splits have a similar breakdown!

Garstang are third in the attack table, with 70 goals in their 30 league games, and its been 20 games since they failed to score in a match. Zach Clarke is leading scorer with 23 goals in 30 games, whilst Joe Noblet has 19 goals and 7 Man of the Match awards.


Here are the postcodes of the grounds to make it easier for any Groundhoppers going along to games this weekend:

Golcar United. Skye Direct Stadium. HD7 4AZ.

Bacup Borough. Brian Boys West View Stadium. OL13 8EE.
Padiham. Ruby Civil Arena. BB12 8LE.
Nelson. Little Wembley. BB9 7BN.
Barnoldswick Town. Silentnight Stadium. BB18 5LJ.

Steeton. Marley Stadium. BD21 4DB.
Ilkley Town. MPM Stadium. LS29 8AW.



Our Sponsors & Partners

Our Sponsors & Partners