Five Things We Learned - Gameweek 33

Wed 15th March 2023 | Five Things
By Jay Cooper

1. Turn your back on Mother Nature

She really is an unmerciful so-and-so, isn't she? In the North West, we went the entirety of winter with a distinct lack of snowfall, but still endured frozen pitches and game postponements as a result. Now it's March, so why is it snowing? And, OK, fair enough, we never really escape the rain in this country, but still, I thought we were past all the weather-based postponements for the season!

Apparently not, as, at the weekend, 3 First Division North games were postponed due to a snow covered pitch; and New Mills VS Ellesmere Rangers was postponed in the First Division South for a frozen pitch, just for good measure. And then, since the weekend, we have unfortunately seen the forced rearrangement of 2 games from the Premier Division; 2 games from the First Division North, 2 games from the First Division South, and even the semi-final of the West Riding County Cup between Liversedge and Barnoldswick Town. Hmph.


2. The Bears roar into the Vase semis

We knew going into Saturday that there was going to be at least one team from the NWCFL in the hat for the semi-final draw of the FA Vase, because Congleton Town and Bury AFC were pitted against one another for the chance to be one match from Wembley. I don't think we quite expected it to be as dramatic as it was, though.

Over 1,000 people were in attendance at the Cleric Stadium as the home side took the lead through Daniel Needham just after 10 minutes, but a Jonathan Hunt equaliser 4 minutes later set up a very tense 75 minutes of play before the game went to penalties. The Bears ran out 5-4 winners in the shootout and set up a date with Vase holders Newport Pagnell Town.

Special mention to West Didsbury and Chorlton, too, who also featured in the Vase quarter-final this weekend, but were unfortunately beaten on penalties by Ascot United after a 1-1 draw.


3. Avro aren't untouchable

In a game that I had the good fortune to attend this weekend, Premier Division leaders Avro suffered a shock defeat on home soil to Manchester rivals Prestwich Heys. After taking the lead from the spot via captain Jake Cottrell, a strike from Heys' Saidkhon Khamidov and an own goal saw the visitors leave with the spoils.

Avro remain at the pinnacle of the division after the other weekend's results, but their nearest competition, Vauxhall Motors, who didn't play this weekend, are now 6 points behind, with 2 games in hand. To add even more spice to the title race, the 2 sides will face one another in the league's penultimate match week - hold on to your hats.


4. The Ammies breach the Stockport Fortress

It's finally happened! It's taken 33 gameweeks and 16 home matches in the First Division South, but Stockport Town have finally been put to the sword in their own back yard. And who were the team that slayed the league leaders? That would be 2nd-placed Wythenshawe Amateurs.

In a match that would've seen Stockport Town extend their lead at the top of the tree to 7 points, had they won, two goals, within 5 minutes of one another, from the Ammies' Brian Ly were enough to secure all 3 points for Shane Goldrick and his players. This means that, with both sides having played 33 games, there is a mere point between them. No pressure, then.


5. An advert weekend for the NWCFL

As mentioned, there were some cup matches this weekend, and there were also a few teams whose scheduled games were forced to be called off. That didn't stop this gameweek being a banner one for the NWCFL. From 22 games between Friday and Sunday alone, there were an impressive 92 goals scored - the numbers don't lie.

Some of the standout results include 3-3 draws between Winsford United and Ashton Athletic, and Stockport Georgians and Abbey Hulton United respectively; First Division North bottom side Cleator Moor Celtic surprising Daisy Hill with a 4-0 win on Daisy Hill's own turf; Longridge Town and Irlam AND Abbey Hey and Ashville being part of games that finished 4-2; and, the gravy on the entrée, a chaotic 5-4 thriller between Burscough and Wythenshawe Town, which the latter won as the visitors.

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