1. Late goals galore in the Prem
There were fewer fixtures than usual this weekend in the NWCFL Premier Division, but the ones that we did get certainly provided us with some drama. There were 4 different teams who scored late goals to save their games on Saturday and Sunday, but, before we talk about those, it's worth mentioning that Colne were almost a 5th team to do the same. They scored in the 94th minute of their home match against Prestwich Heys but still came up short in a 4-3 thriller.
As for the teams who did have just enough time to salvage themselves, we'll start with AFC Liverpool, who turned a 2-2 draw away at Barnoldswick Town into a 4-2 win thanks to 86th and 93rd-minute goals from Liam Paton. As for the game between Lower Breck and Charnock Richard - I'm sorry if you left on 90 minutes. 1-0 to the hosts became 2-1 to the visitors by minute 93, before Breck's Connor McCarthy struck an equalizer in the 96th minute of play. Finally, on Sunday, it seemed that Longridge Town were cruising to a 3-1 away win at Ramsbottom United, until goals from Matthew Dudley (92) and Luke Sephton (96) stole a point for the hosts. Play to the whistle, indeed.
2. Like passing ships...
Are Droylsden and Abbey Hey destined to do this forever? Both teams were scheduled for midweek matches that were meant to take place last night (at home to Ashville and away at Alsager Town, respectively), but those matches had to be postponed. Not due to the weather on this occasion, but more to do with the fact that Droylsden and Abbey Hey were instead to face one another in a rearranged Macron Cup tie.
This game was first scheduled for October 17th, which, in itself, was 3 days after these two teams had squared off in the league - a match that Abbey hey won 3-1, by the way. This Macron Cup fixture, however, was rained off. And it would be rained off again on Halloween night, before being rescheduled for yesterday. Wouldn't you know it, a 3rd waterlogged pitch would see this game need to be rearranged again, hopefully for the final time. The blasted weather in this country.
3. It's finally happened!
FC St Helens have finally lost at home. It took just over 3 months from the start of the NWCFL First Division North season, as well as 2 away defeats in the league and a further 3 in cup competitions, but a team has finally managed to come away from the Windleshaw Sports Ground with maximum points. And that team was Ashton Town. This means that the only team left with an unbeaten home record in the entire NWCFL this season are Premier Division Irlam.
Kevin Towey's team are currently 3rd in the First Division North and have been involved in one or two surprise results so far this season, including 6-2 and 9-1 victories against Darwen and Shelley, respectively, so maybe this 3-1 win over the table toppers shouldn't be all that shocking. That said, it will do wonders for Town's morale, which ought to have been high enough already, and will give them a serious foundation for a sustained play-off push this season.
4. Zakariya Khan't stop scoring
I hate that I've come up with that pun - sorry, Zakariya, if you're reading this! As bad as my play on words is, it does echo a true statement. Route One Rovers have an absolute goal machine on their hands in Zakariyah Khan, who notched his 4th hat-trick of the season at the weekend in Rovers' 4-1 defeat of Nelson. He is the out-and-out hat-trick leader in the whole NWCFL this season so far, with 4.
His teammate, Anees Younis, has also managed 2 hat-tricks in the league this season, a record which puts him joint-3rd in the list of hat-trick goalscorers this season, too, behind only Khan and Premier Division Irlam's Declan Daniels, who has 3. I want to stop repeating myself in these lists when discussing Route One Rovers' goalscoring antics, but, until they stop scoring, I can't stop myself making a note of it.
5. More late goals?
Circling back to my earlier point about the weekend's games from the Premier Division, you could apply exactly the same sentiment to a couple of games that took place in the First Division South. Let's head back to Droylsden, who, instead of having a game against Abbey Hey postponed, instead welcomed struggling Winsford United to The Butchers Arms. The visitors took an early lead, and it seemed they'd come away with a point - right up until the 92nd minute, when Rio Pemberton notched a winner for the hosts.
Elsewhere, Barnton, who had the unenviable task of hosting league leaders Brocton, pushed them right to the limit. Even when Brocton made it 3-1 in the 95th minute, Barnton kept fighting and forced a nervy finish with a 97th minute goal through William Avon, but would ultimately lose on the day, despite going right to the wire. Finally, Cammell Laired 1907 took Stafford Town to the cleaners in the closing stages of their game, scoring 4 goals after the 75-minute mark and ensuring that Thomas Duffy's 93rd minute strike for Town was a mere consolation.