There were some big fixtures at both ends of the NWCFL Premier Division table on Monday and Tuesday this week, and they resulted in some surprise results.
The midweek schedule kicked off on Monday night, top of the league faced 20th as Runcorn Town hosted St. Helens Town at Pavilions. The home side had the chance to go four points clear at the top in what looked like a certain Runcorn Town win, but St. Helens battled to a creditable 1-1 draw. Phil Williams put Saints 1-0 ahead and they were close to pulling off a magnificent victory before Rob Whyte’s second goal in two games levelled the scores.
That result meant that Maine Road could go back to the top of the league if they could win at Winsford United on Tuesday night. But Road could not capitalise on Runcorn Town’s slip up, as they played out their second 0-0 draw in succession. It leaves Maine Road second on 57 points, only behind Runcorn Town on goal difference but Runcorn have a game in hand.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Colne had their biggest crowd of the season (134) as they hosted Barnoldswick Town in a local derby. Barnoldswick won the game 1-0 with a late winner from Mark Threlfall, his 19th goal of the season. Colne have now gone four games without a win as their promotion challenge fades. The game was overshadowed though by a serious injury to Colne’s Michael Morrison, who was taken away in an ambulance after suffering a broken leg.
Bootle had a great chance to close the gap on their promotion rivals as they faced Squires Gate. Gate were 21st and had not won, or scored, in their previous five games. That trend looked like continuing when Bootle went 2-0 up after 25 minutes with goals from Sean Coulton and Kurtis Gill, but Gate pulled one back on the half hour mark through Samuel Farron, and secured a great point with a dramatic 90th minute equaliser from Luke Walker. Bootle’s form continues to stutter at an important stage of the season, they have won just two of their last six.
Bacup Borough and Ashton Athletic both secured important wins in their fight against relegation. Bacup beat AFC Blackpool 1-0 away with a first half Haydn Paul strike. Athletic were 3-1 winners over Wigan Robin Park at home, Connor Gately with a brace and a Paul Hynes penalty with their goals. Those results leave Bacup in 19th on 22 points, and Ashton Athletic in 18th on 23 points, they are four and five points clear of the relegation zone respectively.
Glossop North End continued their recent upturn in form with the biggest win of the night. A 6-2 thrashing of AFC Liverpool lifted them to 10th. Goals from Dean McGregor, Nathan Bond and Ben Connolly followed a hat-trick from Mark Battersby who increased his goal tally to 25 for the season. John Lawless’ double proved to be in vain for AFC Liverpool as they stay in 16th.
Monday 18th February 2013 – NWCFL Premier Division
Runcorn Town 1-1 St. Helens Town
Tuesday 19th February 2013 – NWCFL Premier Division
AFC Blackpool 0-1 Bacup Borough
Ashton Athletic 3-1 Wigan Robin Park
Bootle 2-2 Squires Gate
Colne 0-1 Barnoldswick Town
Glossop North End 6-2 AFC Liverpool
Winsford United 0-0 Maine Road
Formby provided the biggest surprise of the NWCFL Challenge Cup third round this weekend, as they came from 2-1 down to beat Premier Division side Barnoldswick Town 3-2 at the Silentnight Stadium.
Two Michael White penalties helped send Formby through to the last eight of the competition, one of which was a 90th minute winner. The Squirrels have another away draw in the quarter finals, this time to holders Bacup Borough.
Their progression in the cup means that another of their league games will have to be re-scheduled though, something that’s becoming a real problem for Formby as they have only played 13 games in NWCFL Division One so far this season.
Maine Road faced a tough tie away at Congleton Town, which got even tougher when they were reduced to ten men after 30 minutes when Andy Kilheeny was sent off.
Road hung on and battled to a 0-0 draw. Extra time couldn’t separate the two sides either, and Maine Road went through on penalties, winning 3-1 in the shoot-out with Matt Warburton scoring the winner.
Runcorn Linnets got some revenge on Winsford United in a Cheshire derby. Winsford had already beaten the hosts at Millbank Linnets Stadium twice this season, but couldn’t make it third time lucky as Linnets went through 3-2 after extra time.
In front of the highest crowd of the day, 260, Linnets went 2-0 up with a penalty from Kyle Hamid and Ross McDowell’s impressive individual effort. Winsford levelled up the scores before half time, Callam Gardner and Daniel Egan with the goals. But Linnets advanced in to the last eight with an extra time winner from Mark Houghton. Winsford finished the game with ten men, as Kyle McGonigle was sent off late on after a second yellow.
Padiham, along with Maine Road and Bootle, are another club that could still win a NWCFL league and cup double. They were victorious at home to AFC Blackpool, Mark Sharples’ second goal of the season was enough to give them a 1-0 win.
Alsager Town were targeting a crowd of 200 for their game against AFC Liverpool, they managed 152, not as many as they would like but much better than their season average of 89. The crowd were not treated to a Bullets win though, as AFC Liverpool came away 2-0 winners, thanks to goals from Steven Williams and Liam Louchlin, the latter being a penalty.
Cheadle Town recorded an impressive win in the only all Division One tie, they beat second-placed Abbey Hey 1-0 with a 90th minute winner from Andrew Lindon.
Bacup Borough overcame a potential banana skin at home to AFC Darwen, the visitors are top of Division One but Bacup went through with a 1-0 win. Darwen played the majority of the second half with ten men, as Matthew Taylor was sent off for a second yellow, and Shaun Birtles grabbed Bacup’s winner on 73 minutes.
Bootle complete the quarter final line-up, they knocked out Division One club West Didsbury and Chorlton at Delta Taxi Stadium. Michael Young and Kevin Townson scored the Bucks’ goals as they had to come from behind to win 2-1, after Scott Jones had put the away side ahead.
The marquee tie of the quarter finals is arguably Padiham vs Maine Road, as one of the NWCFL Premier Division’s high-flyers is sure to go out. The draw in full:
Bacup Borough vs Formby
Cheadle Town vs AFC Liverpool
Padiham vs Maine Road
Runcorn Linnets vs Bootle
The big game at the top of the Premier Division table did not disappoint, as Runcorn won 5-3 at Colne to go top of the league. Gareth Grant and Paul Shanley grabbed a brace each for the away side, with Mark Keddie scoring the other. Colne’s goals scored by Jason Hart (his 26th of the season), Ashley Carter and Mark Coyne all proved to be in vein as they remain sixth.
Stone Dominoes grabbed just their second win of the season away at Squires Gate. Dwayne Spence’s second half goal was the only one of the game as Squires Gate drop in to the bottom two.
St. Helens Town moved out of the relegation places with a 2-1 home win against Silsden. Charles Stoker put the hosts ahead in the first half before Joseph Gaughan equalised for Silsden, but Cole Ashton’s 75th minute winner was enough to give St. Helens their fifth win of the season.
In the two mid-table battles, Norton United won 2-1 away at Glossop North End, Delroy Fox and Thomas Fogg with a penalty the goalscorers for Norton. Wigan Robin Park and Stockport Sports played out a 1-1 draw, James Edgar put Park ahead early on before Andrews Frempong earned Stockport Sports a point with his second half equaliser.
NWCFL Challenge Cup – Third Round
Abbey Hey 0-1 Cheadle Town
Alsager Town 0-2 AFC Liverpool
Bacup Borough 1-0 AFC Darwen
Barnoldswick Town 2-3 Formby
Bootle 2-1 West Didsbury and Chorlton
Congleton Town 0-0 Maine Road (Maine Road won 3-1 on penalties)
Padiham 1-0 AFC Blackpool
Runcorn Linnets 3-2 Winsford United (After extra time)
NWCFL Premier Division
Colne 3-5 Runcorn Town
Glossop North End 1-2 Norton United
Squires Gate 0-1 Stone Dominoes
St. Helens Town 2-1 Silsden
Wigan Robin Park 1-1 Stockport Sports