Five Things We Learned 2023/24 - Gameweek 40

Thu 2nd May 2024 | Five Things
By Jay Cooper

1. CHARNOCK DID IT... but...

Against all odds. Charnock Richard had a near-impossible task on their hands at the beginning of last week - win 4 games in 6 days and gain 12 points to earn a spot in the NWCFL Premier Division play-off places. Wouldn't you know it, their fairytale run became a reality with victories over Irlam, Barnoldswick Town, Colne and Pilkington, and they leapfrogged both Kendal Town and Padiham into 4th place, and secured a play-off spot at the hands of the former. However...

It wasn't to be. Their incredible run was stopped in its tracks in front of just over 4,000 people (me included) at Gigg Lane, where heavy favourites Bury FC beat Ryan Donnellan and his team via a single Tanaka Cherera screamer. The home advantage played its part for the Shakers, but they won't have that crutch to lean on in the play-off final, because...


2. Wythy win it late

in the other NWCFL Premier Division play-off game from Tuesday night, Wythenshawe Town - who had pushed local rivals Wythenshawe FC right to the final day in the title race - went toe to toe with Padiham, who'd earned their place in the play-offs with a fantastic run of form towards the end of the season. Again, home advantage would play a part in this one, with the game being played at Town's Ericstan Park.

It would take until the 72nd minute for Wythy to break the deadlock, but just the one goal would be enough in the end. Thomas Bentham's goal would be the difference by the full-time whistle, and Town retain home advantage going into the final against the only other team that was a part of the title race with both the Wythenshawe clubs, Bury FC.


3. South Liverpool are promoted!

Last week, it was the First Divisions North and South play-off semi-finals, and this week, it's the big ones - the finals! And we'll start in the North, where, in front of over 1,000 fans, South Liverpool were visitors to Ashton Town for a match that finished 0-0 after 90 minutes.

In the shootout, Ashton Town, unlike both Wythenshawe Town and Bury FC a few days later, were unable to capitalise on their home advantage, and only managed to put away one penalty. In response, South Liverpool dispatched 3 of theirs, and sealed their promotion to Step 5 of the non-league system. Congratulations to Martin Ryman and his players!


4. Abbey Hey are promoted!

When I first joined the NWCFL, Abbey Hey were very much in the race for the play-offs, and they eventually fell short to FC Isle of Man in 2021/22. Last season, after coming so close, they cooled off with a mid-table finish, and came out swinging in 2023/24, winding up in 3rd place. This would not be enough to secure home advantage in the play-off final, though, as they faced Stockport Town in the promotion match.

This was a Stockport Town side who had lost in the play-off semi-finals to Cheadle Town last season on home soil, and unfortunately for Paul Turnbull and his team, lightning would strike twice. At the Stockport Sports Village, visitors Abbey Hey held on for a 1-1 draw and overcame their hosts 4-1 in the ensuing shootout. Congratulations to David Birch, Michael Norton, and everyone else involved at the club.


5. Colne - Challenge Trophy Champions!

I didn't even realise this had happened until researching for this list, because, as mentioned, I was present at Bury/Charnock on Tuesday evening. I remember checking the half-time score in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy Final between NPL side Bamber Bridge and NWCFL Prem side Colne, and it was 2-0 to the former.

Well, by full time, it was a very different story. Right off the bat in the second half, Colne's Jamie Edwards bagged a goal back for his side, before Billy Priestly equalised 10 minutes later. This was followed by 2 goals from Lucas Weaver, and a William Hasler-Cregg goal in added time to put the icing on the cake, and the trophy into the hands of Colne. Congratulations to all involved at the club on this achievement!

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