The Ammies are on the Maine Road to Glory

Thu 6th April 2023 | Match Previews
By Jay Cooper

Anyone who read my “Five things we learned this week” from yesterday will notice that I focused on Cheadle Town needing a win to confirm their place in the play-offs, and didn’t give much of a mention to the fact that, if Wythenshawe Amateurs are able to win on Monday against Maine Road, they will be confirmed champions of the NWCFL First Division South. Au contraire, mon ami – the Ammies are a part of this preview. Here is everything you need to know about the title race heading into gameweek 37 next Monday.

In case the headline of this article didn’t give it away, it will be mid-table Maine Road who will act as either the penultimate or final hurdle for Wythenshawe Amateurs in their quest for the title. Maine Road are staples of the NWCFL, having been a part of the league setup since the 1987/88 season, and they know what it takes to win a league title at this level, too. In the 1989/90 season, Road won what was then called the NWCFL Division Two, to gain promotion to Division One, which is now the Premier Division.

33 years on, and, if Shane Goldrick’s side win at Brantingham, they will do exactly the same thing as their opponents all that time ago. Of course, Wythy are no strangers themselves to winning trophies. Before their promotion to the NWCFL First Division South in 2018/19, they were a regular success story in the Manchester League. They won the Division One title at the first time of asking in 1973; they managed a famous treble in 1990, winning the Manchester League Premier Division, the Lancashire Amateur Cup and the Gilgryst Cup; and they managed another Premier Division victory in 1993.

This is as close as Wythy have come to earning promotion from the First Division South in their 5 years of being in the league (give or take 2 years for the virus that shall not be named), with their previous finishes reading as 4th in 2019; 12th at the time of abandonment in 2020; 18th at the time of abandonment in 2021; and 5th in 2022.

Last season did see them earn a crack at the play-offs, in the final play-off place, as they finished a whopping 20 points ahead of 6th place. That team in 6th? That would be Maine Road, coincidentally enough. In the play-offs themselves, the Ammies fell at the semi-final stage in a 3-0 defeat to eventual winner FC isle of Man.

Back to the present, and with this all-Manchester clash between Road and Wythy being a league game, of course that means that we’ve already seen these two sides face off this season. In the reverse fixture at the Selco Builders Warehouse Community Stadium, Wythenshawe came away with a comfortable 3-0 win thanks to goals from Bryan Ly, Saul Henderson, and Joseph Bevan.

That doesn’t actually tell the whole story, either, as they also went toe to toe in the Macron Cup back in October. This one was a lot more closely contested, with the referee blowing the full-time whistle on a 0-0 draw before penalties. In a high-pressure situation, away at Maine Road, Wythenshawe came out on top with a 5-4 win in the shootout. That kind of resilience might be called upon again when Monday rolls around.

As good for the confidence levels as these results will have been, they might not even come close to the pride that Ammies will feel when they look back on their clashes with Stockport Town this season. For context, Stockport Town are the league’s top scorers this season, spent a solid stretch of time at the top of the table, and are currently the only team that can possible catch Wythy.

Stockport Town will be in action on Monday, and know that nothing other than a win against local rivals Stockport Georgians will be enough to keep them in the title hunt. They always say that form goes out of the window in a derby, but Town have good reason to be confident. The game will take place at Stockport Sports Village – a ground that Town have made into a fortress throughout the season. In fact, they’ve only lost once at home all season… that loss came against Wythenshawe Amateurs.

On the two occasions that Ammies and Town have faced off this season, the bragging rights have sat squarely in the possession of the former. In the second league game of the campaign, Wythy picked up maximum points in their home encounter with a slender 1-0 win thanks a goal from Kieran Curtis, and in the reverse fixture, as recently as March 11th, a Bryan Ly brace was enough to see Goldrick’s men take all 3 points in their rivals’ back yard. As a result of the latter game, both sides have a near perfect home record – both with only 1 in the loss column.

In Town’s reverse fixture against Georgians, they did manage a solid 2-0 victory, with both of their free scoring front two, Dan McLaughlin and Scott McGowan, putting their names on the scoresheet. That game also came immediately after an impressive 6-2 thrashing of Sandbach United, and despite their follow-up match to the Georgians victory seeing them beaten 3-0 by premier Division Congleton Town, they bounced back with a 7-0 domination of Stafford Town.

It might not matter. Stockport’s incredible goalscoring antics might be a non-factor in the title race after Monday. Wythenshawe Amateurs have spent the season winning, and Monday should be treated as no different. From a brief conversation with Shane Goldrick, it is clear that he has his team focused and they will be ready for kick-off on Monday. As for Stockport Town, they know that they can play to their hearts content, just as they have done throughout the campaign, but they are reliant on Maine Road to get something from the Ammies. It’s up the players on that pitch now.



Image credit: Twitter, @wythenshaweafc, 30/03/2023

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