We only have a couple of weeks left in the North West Counties Premier Division season, and it looks as if we are in for a great finish at both ends of the table.
At the top there are still five teams in with a chance of promotion, but let’s switch our attention to the bottom of the table. The fight against relegation is proving to be as dramatic as ever, Stone Dominoes are already certain to go down, meaning it will be one of Squires Gate, Ashton Athletic, St. Helens Town or Silsden that will have the misfortune to occupy the final relegation place.
Bacup Borough could still technically go down too, but with them lying seven points clear of the relegation zone with at least four games in hand over all of their rivals, you would like to imagine they will be safe.
Just like in the Race for Promotion article on the website a few weeks ago, let’s take a look at the run-in for each of the clubs battling to stay in the league, as well as predicting the final results (shown in italic next to the fixtures) just as a gauge to I think the table might end up.
Gate are the team that currently sit in that dreaded final relegation place, they are on 29 points – level with Ashton Athletic who lie one place above them. They have played a game more than Ashton Athletic, and the two teams meet tonight at Athletic’s Brocstedes Park in a huge game.
Gate are struggling at the moment, having picked up only two points from their last five games, but they did record a good draw at home to fifth-placed Winsford United on Saturday.
They have three games remaining, all of which are away, so if they lose to Ashton Athletic tonight you struggle to see Squires Gate getting out of this.
23.04.13 (A) Ashton Athletic – Draw
27.04.13 (A) Bacup Borough – Draw
01.05.13 (A) AFC Liverpool – Loss
Ahead of their biggest game of the season tonight, Athletic are not in the form they would like to be – their last win came on the 9th of March and they have failed to win any of their last six games.
Three of their last four fixtures are at home which gives them advantage, especially when you take in to account their awful away record; they have lost 16 away from home this season, the joint-highest in the League.
Although Athletic and Squires Gate have the same points total, Athletic have a better goal difference at -36 compared to Gate’s -43, so a draw tonight would not be a bad result for Athletic, but a win would give them much more confidence of avoiding the drop.
23.04.13 (H) Squires Gate – Draw
27.04.13 (H) Padiham – Loss
29.04.13 (A) Bacup Borough – Win
04.05.13 (H) AFC Blackpool – Loss
St. Helens are currently 19th, one place and one point above Ashton Athletic with four games left to play.
Their next three games are at home and they need to take advantage of that, if they can pick up four points from those fixtures, which is very achievable, then they should be safe.
Although their form is not great (winning two of their last six games), it is actually the best of the four teams being discussed in this article. Taking that, and their fixtures, into account, I think Saints may live to fight another year in the Division.
25.04.13 (H) Glossop North End – Draw
27.04.13 (H) Stone Dominoes – Win
04.05.13 (H) Bootle – Loss
06.04.13 (A) Bacup Borough – Loss
Silsden sit in 18th on 33 points, and although that is four points clear of the relegation zone, they have a real danger of being dragged in to the mix with only two games remaining.
If teams below them pick up points over the next couple of weeks and they fail to do so, then they could be in trouble.
Their final two fixtures are at home but are not easy by any means, they face Alsager Town and Runcorn Linnets, and could easily lose both. One win should be enough to keep them up, but they have not done that for eight games.
27.04.13 (H) Alsager Town – Draw
04.05.13 (H) Runcorn Linnets – Loss
Final Predictions Table
Going off my predictions this is how the bottom of the table will finish, although anything is possible in this League.
18. St Helens Town – 34 points
19. Silsden – 34 points
20. Ashton Athletic – 33 points
21. Squires Gate – 31 points
As April draws ever closer, the race for promotion in the North West Counties Premier Division remains wide open.
It looks as though there are, at most, five teams still in with a chance. Padiham currently lead the way but Runcorn Town and Maine Road sit right behind them, ready to capitalise on any slip up.
Maine Road have played more games than any other team in the top five which leaves them at a disadvantage, Bootle on the other hand have games in hand on all of their rivals. They currently sit in fourth, ten points behind Padiham, but if they were to win all four of their games in hand then they would go top.
Winsford United are the outsiders, they are putting together a good run of form – currently unbeaten in six, winning five of those. If they were to win their games in hand over Padiham, then they would sit just five points off the top. If Winsford continue their form and others stutter, it is not unreasonable to think they could go up.
For Runcorn Linnets in sixth though, it seems it may have to be next year. They have played a game more than Winsford and are still two points behind them. If they could have beaten the Blues in their meeting last week then it might have been a different story, but a 0-0 draw left them wondering what might have been.
If we look at the remaining fixtures of the clubs in the mix, we can get a better idea of who might be playing in the Evo-Stik First Division next season. I’ve had a go at predicting the results too (shown in italic next to the fixtures).
The Storks have some really tough games in their schedule and you cannot see them winning all of their games against Linnets, Maine Road, Bootle and Runcorn Town, especially considering they are all away. It looks as though it may be too tough for Padiham to finish as league winners, but if they manage to do it, nobody will argue that they didn’t deserve it.
01.04.13 (H) Silsden – Win
06.04.13 (A) Runcorn Linnets – Draw
11.04.13 (A) Bacup Borough – Win
13.04.13 (H) Congleton Town – Win
20.04.13 (A) Maine Road – Draw
23.04.13 (A) Bootle – Draw
27.04.13 (A) Ashton Athletic – Win
TBA (A) Runcorn Town – Loss
Road’s fixture list has been fairly kind to them, you would expect them to be able to pick up a lot of points in their final games. They do have a habit of throwing up an unexpected poor performance though, as shown by their ten losses this season. All they can do is try to win their remaining games and hope the other slip up
01.04.13 (H) Stockport Sports – Win
06.04.13 (A) St. Helens Town – Win
13.04.13 (H) Squires Gate – Win
20.04.13 (H) Padiham – Draw
27.04.13 (H) AFC Liverpool – Win
TBA (A) AFC Blackpool – Win
Runcorn Town’s schedule is similar to that of Padiham’s, in that they have a run of very tough fixtures at the back end of April (Bootle, Winsford and Padiham). However, Runcorn Town play all of those games at home which may give them the advantage.
01.04.13 (H) Runcorn Linnets – Draw
06.04.13 (A) Wigan Robin Park – Win
09.04.13 (A) AFC Liverpool – Win
13.04.13 (H) Glossop North End – Win
15.04.13 (H) Squires Gate – Win
20.04.13 (H) Bootle – Loss
22.04.13 (H) Winsford United – Draw
27.04.13 (A) Stockport Sports – Win
TBA (H) Padiham – Win
Looking at the league table, you would think Bootle are in a great position, but when you see how tightly packed their schedule is, you can’t help but think that will affect them. They are pretty much playing three games a week from now until the end of the season, as well as tough games against the likes of Padiham, Runcorn Town, Winsford and Barnoldswick twice. They will do well to catch the leaders with this influx of fixtures.
28.03.13 (H) Glossop North End – Win
30.03.13 (A) Glossop North End – Draw
01.04.13 (H) AFC Liverpool – Win
04.04.13 (A) Barnoldswick Town – Loss
06.04.13 (H) Stone Dominoes – Win
09.04.13 (H) Alsager Town – Win
13.04.13 (A) Colne – Draw
20.04.13 (A) Runcorn Town – Win
23.04.13 (H) Padiham – Draw
27.04.13 (H) Barnoldswick Town – Draw
29.04.13 (A) St. Helens Town – Win
01.05.13 (H) Winsford United – Draw
Winsford have a fairly tight schedule too, but it seems easier than Bootle’s as they only face two teams from the top five. It’s the games against the likes of Barnoldswick, Congleton and Colne in which Winsford will have to pull off a win. If they can’t do that, then you can’t see them going up.
30.03.13 (A) St. Helens Town – Win
03.04.13 (A) AFC Liverpool – Win
06.04.13 (H) Congleton Town – Loss
09.04.13 (A) Stone Dominoes – Win
13.04.13 (H) Silsden – Win
17.04.13 (A) Silsden – Win
20.04.13 (A) Squires Gate – Win
22.04.13 (A) Runcorn Town – Draw
27.04.13 (H) Colne – Win
01.05.13 (A) Bootle – Draw
Predicted final table
My result predictions leave the table looking like this:
- Runcorn Town – 90 points
- Padiham – 89 points
- Bootle – 87 points
- Maine Road – 86 points
- Winsford United – 84 points
Very difficult to predict, but whatever happens we are in for an exciting finish to the season.