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
Appearance – 4/5
Facilities – 4/5
Parking – 5/5
Refreshments – 4/5
Stone Dominoes are the most southerly club in the North West Counties Premier Division, but the distance you may have to travel is worth it to visit a very pleasant little ground.
Wellbeing Park is not based in the town of Stone itself, but in the nearby village of Yarnfield. It’s a very nice area and an enjoyable drive down through the country roads and villages after exiting the M6 at junction 15.
The ground is simple enough to find, located on a main road and easy to spot with it being in the country and not hidden in a housing estate like other grounds.
Parking is good too, they have a large gravel-covered car park on location, which is probably one of the largest in the league.
After entering through the gate to the facility you are first greeted by the well-known Domino statues, four of which stand on the grass at about four feet tall.
There are also a couple of pitches, used for junior games and Stone Dominoes training, and a café to be seen before you enter Dominoes’ home itself.
The café is small with only around five or six tables, but it is of good standard. It’s a modern-looking place with a good selection of food and drinks available, and Sky Sports on the TV.
After travelling down a passageway next to the café you reach the turnstile to the ground where you pay an adult price of £5 to enter.
You emerge by a corner flag, to the right is the only stand in the ground – it runs down the entire touchline and is mostly standing, apart from a small seated area in the middle with approximately 50 seats.
Behind both goals are rows of shrubbery on a raised platform but no steps and only a small area to stand.
On the far touchline, where the dugouts are based, is a raised grassy knoll that runs from one corner flag to the other and stands at around six feet high.
Stone have the lowest average attendance in the North West Counties Premier Division, but Wellbeing Park deserves more visitors. It’s a small ground but well kept and it a nice location. With Dominoes all but relegated now, it’s a ground that will be missed from the league next season.
Appearance – 2/5
Facilities – 2/5
Parking – 2/5
Refreshments – 3/5
Edge Green Street is currently used by two North West Counties sides, it is owned by Division One’s Ashton Town, but has been shared with Premier Division outfit St. Helens Town since 2010.
As long as you know where you’re going, the ground is fairly easy to get to. It is located just off junction 23 of the M6 in Ashton-in-Makerfield near Wigan.
The town itself is easy to navigate but the ground is located down a small backstreet, it is not signposted and you have to look out for the ‘Edge Green Street’ road sign. With a SatNav it will be simple, but without one you may struggle.
Parking is not the greatest, there is a small area in the ground itself behind the goal for around ten to fifteen cars, but they risk being pummelled with wayward shots. The side street to get to the ground can accommodate around twenty cars, it is bumpy and full of potholes but an easy getaway is ensured if you find a spot here.
After paying an adult price of £5 to enter you emerge behind the goal. Down the touchline to the left are the only two stands, a small all-seated stand that must hold around 100, and another covered area with both seats (approx. 30) and steps for standing.
Both stands look like their best days are behind them, the seats have faded in the sunlight and the corrugated iron and scaffolding the stands are made from are starting to rust.
Behind the far goal is just a fence and a high net to stop balls from flying out of the ground. Down the touchline to the right are the two dugouts, and a small changing room area.
The perimeter fence around the ground leaves a lot to be desired, it is covered in either dirty tarp or weedy hedges depending on where you look.
In the corner next to the changing rooms is a small clubhouse with a bar, pool table and TV with Sky Sports, although having no windows makes it very dark inside. The bar wasn’t open when I visited but the tea hut at the far end was, and provided the usual football food.
Edge Green Street is not the best ground in the NWCFL Premier Division, but that is to be expected with it being owned by a club from the league below. It does have a good pitch though, and with a bit of housekeeping to the stands and the perimeter fence it would greatly improve.
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.
Appearance – 5/5
Facilities – 4/5
Parking – 1/5
Refreshments – 3/5
Hidden away in a housing estate in Congleton you will find Booth Street, they have done their best to surround the ground with houses but you can just catch a glimpse of it if you look hard enough.
The cricket ground of Congleton CC is easier to see, and if you find that then you’ve found Booth Street, which is just a few yards down the road.
There is no use looking for a car park however, as they do not have one, the best you can do is park up on the roadside of the housing estate. Congleton have escaped getting a 0/5 for parking as there is actually a lot of space to park, but it is certainly not ideal.
Despite what may not be the best start to a visit to Booth Street, when you get in the ground, all will be forgotten.
This is one of the better looking grounds in the North West Counties League, with all four sides providing something different.
After paying an adult price of £5, you emerge from the turnstile by a corner flag; behind the goal on the left is a covered standing area, with netting above to stop any balls flying out of the ground. Down the touchline to the right are two stands (shown below), one is a good sized all-seater that must hold around 200-250, and the other is another small covered standing area.
On the opposite touchline is a third, fairly modern looking covered stand. This has around four or five steps and sits on the halfway line, in between the two dugouts.
Behind the far goal is a sizeable grass bank, something that always adds a bit of character to a ground. It is fairly steep though, and fans face a struggle to climb to the top where it flattens out, but the struggle is worth it as it provides a great view.
Congleton, nicknamed the Bears, also have their ‘Bears Den’ club. This is a modern-looking club, not the biggest in the league but still boasts a bar, television and hot food being served, although I believe this was only for the match sponsors.
For the rest of the fans there is a tea hut outside with the usual items on sale – pies, chips, tea, coffee etc. good quality food but with a wait of around 30 minutes for a pie to cook in the oven, they lose a couple of marks here.
From a visual point of view, Booth Street is one of the nicest and most interesting looking grounds in this league. The only thing that lets it down is the parking and the difficulty that some may have to find it, but it would definitely be one that you would look forward to visiting again.
Appearance – 2/5
Facilities – 3/5
Parking – 5/5
Refreshments – 4/5
Winsford United’s Barton Stadium sits atop a steep hill, its large floodlights rising high above the town to be seen from miles away. But that sounds a lot more glamorous than what it really is – a very old ground that is beginning to show its age.
The Barton Stadium is fairly easy to find, those big floodlights do stick out on the Winsford skyline, and it isn’t one of those grounds that’s hidden away on an estate. It has a good location, being fairly central to the town of Winsford and just down the road from a large Morrison’s supermarket.
It boasts one of the best car parks in the league, it’s a good size and well kept. It is not shared with anyone else either so you are pretty much guaranteed a space, and a quick getaway, on every match day.
The Top House pub is situated just next to the ground where many fans will go for a pre-game tipple. Before paying an adult entry price of £6, a fee that many believe is £1 too high for this league.
When stepping through the turnstile the first thing that hits you is the large size of the area the ground covers. The Barton Stadium used to have a greyhound track running around the outside of the pitch, that has been covered in grass now but the space is still there and it goes so far behind each goal that standing there is pointless.
Down one side is the Kingsway stand, a covered standing area that runs along most of the touchline, but with an extremely low roof you have to be careful not to get too enthusiastic when celebrating or you could wind up with a bruised head and hands.
On the opposite side of the pitch is the main stand and club house. The stand itself holds around 150-200 covered seats (depending on how many are actually sheltered from the holes in the roof), with the changing rooms and a tea hut located on either side of it.
Behind the stand is the ‘Blues Club’, a good-sized club with Sky Sports on the big screen and a good selection of drinks at the bar. The decor leaves a lot to be desired though, as it looks as it has come straight out of the 1970s.
Through the Blues Club you can also opt not to go back out in to the cold to watch the football, but stay indoors and watch through the window. The view you get is shown below from a recent game against Runcorn Town when an ambulance was needed for a serious injury.
It’s a ground that you can tell is aging, but it certainly has character and is something different from most of the things you will see in this league. It is able to hold a large crowd and has good facilities, but just not in the best condition. A recent ground grading review did award the ground an Evo-Stik standard E Grade though, and with the arrangement of new club 1874 Northwich playing there from next season providing extra funds, we may see the Barton Stadium improve in the coming years.
Appearance – 2/5
Facilities – 4/5
Parking – 4/5
Refreshments – 4/5
With a ground that was opened as recently as 2010, you would expect it to be of good quality. Although, as with many of the newer grounds, the Millbank Linnets Stadium does lack that traditional, historic feel that many of the grounds around non-league have.
It is not near the centre of Runcorn itself, but located on the outskirts in area known worryingly as ‘Murdishaw.’ The ground is easy to find though, located less than 100m off an A533 roundabout and well signposted.
As you pull in you may worry at the size of a car park that looks to have a capacity of about 30 at most. But there is an opening that leads you through to the field behind the ground, it may be muddy but they could cater for as many cars as possible here.
You can stop off in the Halton Arms pub next to the ground for a quick pint, or enter straight away for a North West Counties regular price of £5 for an adult.
The ground gives you the feeling that they found a pitch on a field and decided to build a fence around it. Technically that is what has happened, but Linnets have to be commended for building themselves a new home after spending their first four seasons playing at Witton Albion’s Wincham Park.
There are two stands with a distinctly ‘flat pack’ look about them, an all-seated stand located on the half-way line, and a small terrace behind the goal closest to the clubhouse.
A footpath and a metal bar at optimum leaning height surround the pitch, with a few advertising boards dotted around too. A corrugated fence runs around the whole area, but at a height of about six or seven foot, it is a regular occurance to see balls fly over in to the field that surrounds the stadium.
The clubhouse is usually packed before the game and at half-time, with Linnets boasting the best average attendance in the league. With drinks on offer inside and a good selection of food too, it’s a place that will keep fans happy.
Overall, the Millbank Linnets Stadium is bereft of character but that is something you cannot build in a day, that will come as Linnets continue to play there over the years. The club have plans to build a new roof over the fence, creating what would be like a new small stand which will help. It is a clean, smart looking little ground, nothing spectacular but seeing as the club are less than a decade old, they have done brilliantly to even have their own home.
For the first time in a number of weeks, we don’t have a big top of the table clash in the fixture schedule for the North West Counties Premier Division. For the biggest game of the weekend, focus switches to the bottom of the table.
Squires Gate host St.Helens Town in a huge six-pointer. Gate sit in 21st, two points behind St. Helens, meaning a win would move them out of the relegation zone. The formbook suggests St. Helens may get a result, they have won two of their last six whereas Gate have failed to win in any of their last six games. The two teams will play again in three weeks’ time so a win in this first meeting is crucial.
League leaders Padiham travel to Norton United in a battle between two teams that were punished by the League this week. Norton had three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player, and Padiham were thrown out of the League Challenge Cup for the same offence. Padiham haven’t lost in the League since November 10th and have won four of their last five. They are putting an impressive run together that they will expect to continue that at Norton.
Bacup Borough welcome Maine Road to Brian Boys West View Stadium with both teams fighting at opposite ends of the table. Bacup are four points clear of the relegation zone and have the chance to pull away from Squires Gate and St. Helens with those two teams playing each other. Maine Road will be full of confidence after coming off a mid-week 6-1 win over Alsager Town, they can regain top spot if they win and Padiham fail to do so.
Runcorn Town travel to Congleton Town as they look to keep pace with the league leaders. Padiham are four points clear of Runcorn Town, with both teams having played 27 games. Runcorn will believe they get a win in this Cheshire derby, they have one of the best away records in the league and Congleton’s form is beginning to suffer, they have won just one of their last six.
Ashton Athletic are still far from safe, they lie five points clear of the relegation zone but have played more games than three of the four teams below them. They face a tough trip to Winsford United on Saturday, the home side are coming off a good 3-0 win at Glossop on Tuesday and will be looking at their next two games of Ashton Athletic and Stone Dominoes at home as an opportunity to pick up points in quick succession.
Fourth-placed Bootle are seven points behind Padiham with two games in hand heading in to this weekend and they will be confident of another three points at home to AFC Blackpool on Saturday. Bootle followed up last week’s impressive win at Maine Road with another win in midweek, winning 3-0 away at Ashton Athletic. They may be getting in to form at just the right time.
Speaking of teams that are in form, Runcorn Linnets have propelled themselves to fifth after an unbeaten run that has lasted for ten games. They travel to Stockport Sports, a game that sees the team bottom of the form table host the team at the top. Linnets have the chance to go fourth if they win and Bootle fail to beat AFC Blackpool, this run of form has them getting more and more involved in the promotion race each week.
Barnoldswick Town are another team just outside that promotion chasing pack. They have a winnable game at home to Wigan Robin Park. The travelling side lost their prolific goalscorer Phil Howard to Runcorn Town this week but a win here would calm any worries their fans have about that. Barnoldswick won the reverse fixture 1-0 back in October, a repeat performance could see them as high as fourth depending on other results.
A few weeks ago, Colne looked set for a title push, but after a run of five games without a win they have drifted away and find themselves in ninth. This weekend they travel to Glossop North End, who themselves have hit a patchy run. In the first meeting between the two teams back in September, Colne emerged 3-1 winners, something they will be eager to replicate here.
Stone Dominoes are running out of time to put a run of results together if they are to survive the drop as they sit ten points adrift of safety. They have a chance of a positive result this weekend though when they face 16th-placed Silsden at home. Silsden have the worst away record in the league, having won one, drawn one and lost 11 of their games on the road so far this year.
Alsager Town will be hurting after that 6-1 loss at Maine Road on Monday night, they will be looking for a response when they travel to AFC Liverpool. The two teams met just a couple of weeks ago in the League Challenge Cup and AFC Liverpool won that game 2-0, they are in good form too, having lost just one of their last six, and may prove just too strong for Alsager again.
Saturday 2nd March 2013 – NWCFL Premier Division
AFC Liverpool vs Alsager Town
Bacup Borough vs Maine Road
Barnoldswick Town vs Wigan Robin Park
Bootle vs AFC Blackpool
Congleton Town vs Runcorn Town
Glossop North End vs Colne
Norton United vs Padiham
Squires Gate vs St. Helens Town
Stockport Sports vs Runcorn Linnets
Stone Dominoes vs Silsden
Winsford United vs Ashton Athletic
There were 25 goals in seven games across the NWCFL Premier Division this weekend. With some very impressive away performances and yet another change at the top of the table.
But the game that generated the most interest was in the FA Vase, as the last remaining NWCFL side in the competition, Runcorn Town, hosted Midlands Combination League outfit Walsall Wood. There was a good crowd of 233 at Pavilions, but they witnessed a 2-1 Runcorn Town loss in extra time, a result that means there will be no trip to Wembley for an NWCFL team in 2013. Jamie Hankins put Wood ahead just before the break, but James McShane’s equaliser sent the game to extra time. It was Walsall Wood’s top scorer Ahmet Bilgimer’s 109th-minute goal that sent the away side in to the last eight.
With Runcorn Town in Vase action, Maine Road had the chance to go top if they could overcome overcome fourth-placed Bootle at Brantingham Road. But the Bucks pulled off a superb 1-0 win with a late Daniel O’Connor goal, putting themselves in a great position in the table. They are seven points off the lead, with two games in hand, as the race for promotion really starts to heat up.
The team both Bootle and Maine Road are chasing at the top of the league is now Padiham. They beat relegation threatened St. Helens Town 4-2 away from home on Saturday, thanks to a hat-trick from Ben Allen, and a fourth from Keiron Pickup. St. Helens twice led through Michael Sykes-Wright and Philip Williams, but could not pull off the upset, as Padiham scored three goals in the last seven minutes. The result leaves Padiham in first place with games in hand over both Runcorn Town and Maine Road.
Runcorn Linnets are now unbeaten in nine games, winning seven of those, after they thrashed ten-man Wigan Robin Park 6-0 in front of Park’s highest crowd of the season, 138. Wigan’s goalkeeper Jason Foulds was sent off early in the second half with the score at 1-0, and Linnets took full advantage. Goals from Chris Lomax, Adam Wade (shown below), Lee Madin, Jamie Campbell and a Mark Houghton double sent the large contingent of travelling Linnets fans home delighted. It leaves the club in fifth, eight points behind leaders Padiham who have two games in hand.
Alsager Town exacted the perfect revenge on Winsford United after they beat Alsager 4-0 on Boxing Day. This time, it was Alsager who came away 4-0 winners. Two goals each from Sean Turner and Jed Davies gave Alsager their 11th win of the season. Winsford slip to ninth, having not won in their last four games.
Barnoldswick Town overcame a tough test at home against Glossop North End as they picked up three points with a 3-1 win. Mark Threlfall’s first half penalty was cancelled out by Jonathan Hirst, but two goals in six minutes from Danny Morton and Thomas Bradley saw Barnoldswick come away with the win.
After a good start to the season, Congleton Town have now only won one of their last six, and only a late Chris Smith equaliser salvaged a point for them away at Silsden on Saturday. Christopher Wademan put the home side ahead just before the hour mark, but they couldn’t hold on for what would have been a vital win.
Stone Dominoes could not follow up the success of their second league win last week with another on Saturday, as they lost 2-0 at AFC Blackpool. Ryan Vaughan and Stephen Pickup scored the goals as Blackpool move up one place to 13th in the table. Stone remain ten points adrift, with games rapidly running out for them to catch up.
Three NWCFL Premier Division games fell victim to the weather once again, with games at Bacup Borough, Colne and Norton United all postponed due to frozen pitches.
Saturday 23rd February 2013 – FA Vase Fifth Round
Runcorn Town 1-2 Walsall Wood (after extra time)
NWCFL Premier Division
AFC Blackpool 2-0 Stone Dominoes
Bacup Borough P-P Ashton Athletic
Barnoldswick Town 3-1 Glossop North End
Colne P-P AFC Liverpool
Maine Road 0-1 Bootle
Norton United P-P Stockport Sports
Silsden 1-1 Congleton Town
St. Helens Town 2-4 Padiham
Wigan Robin Park 0-6 Runcorn Linnets
Winsford United 0-4 Alsager Town
21 of the 22 NWCFL Premier Division clubs are in action on Saturday, Runcorn Town being in cup action means that Squires Gate will have a free weekend. Expected freezing conditions on Friday night may threaten a number of games, so we have to cross our fingers this week for a busy Saturday schedule.
Runcorn Town are the last remaining North West Counties side in the FA Vase, and they play their last 16 tie against Walsall Wood, of the Midland Combination League. Walsall are having a good season, having only lost one of their 16 league games so far, and will prove a tough test for Runcorn Town. But Town are unbeaten in five heading in to the game, winning four of them, and will be high in confidence. They should be spurred on by a good crowd as they attempt to set up a potential quarter-final tie against Guernsey.
The biggest NWCFL Premier Division game of the day is at Brantingham Road where Maine Road face Bootle in a second versus fourth battle. A point or a win will take Road to the top of the league with current leaders Runcorn Town in Vase action, but Bootle will see this as a huge opportunity to catch up in the promotion race. A win for the Bucks would see them six points off the top of the table with three games in hand.
At the opposite end of the table, Bacup Borough are at home to Ashton Athletic in a relegation six-pointer. Bacup lie in 19th, four points clear of the drop zone, whereas Athletic are 18th, five points clear. Whichever side emerges victorious from this one will take a huge advantage in the fight against relegation. The two teams cannot be separated in terms of form, both have won three and lost three of their last six, and it may well be home advantage that gives Bacup a slight edge.
There is a Cheshire derby in Winsford as they welcome Alsager Town to Barton Stadium. Winsford beat the Bullets 4-0 in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, so Alsager will be out for revenge. It is a meeting of two teams that are experiencing blips in their form, as neither side have won in their last three games.
St. Helens Town picked up a good point on Monday night away at Runcorn Town, but their fight for survival doesn’t get any easier this weekend, as they face Padiham. The Saints lie one place above the relegation zone in 20th, and are two points clear of Squires Gate in 21st. It will be tough to get anything against third-placed Padiham, they have lost just one of their last 12 games in all competitions and could go top on Saturday with a win if results go their way.
Barnoldswick will look to keep their slim hopes of promotion alive as they host Glossop North End. This is the second meeting of these two teams at Silentnight Stadium this season, after a 4-2 Barnoldswick win in the League Challenge Cup back in October. Barnoldswick are in sixth but with six of their next seven games at home, they will see the next few weeks as an opportunity to pick up some real form. A confident Glossop side will be tough opposition though, they are coming off a midweek 6-2 win over AFC Liverpool .
Runcorn Linnets are unbeaten in eight and will look to continue that good form away at Wigan Robin Park. Linnets have gradually moved up the table since the hiring of new manager Joey Dunn in November, and could go fourth if they win and Bootle fail to beat Maine Road. Park are in mid-table obscurity in 14th, but could move up a place with a win.
Colne’s promotion challenge seems to be all but over after they failed to win any of their last four games. They will be looking to put that right at home against AFC Liverpool. The away side are 16th in the league table but second in the form table and will be a tough test for Colne, they will be smarting after that midweek 6-2 defeat at Glossop too and it would not be surprise to see them get a result here.
Stone Dominoes seem all but relegated as they prop up the rest of the league on just ten points. They did manage to record just their second win of the season last week against Squires Gate which may inject a small amount of belief in to the squad. They are away at AFC Blackpool this weekend, the two teams met last month and AFC Blackpool ran out 4-2 winners. But a win this time around and Dominoes may start thinking of survival.
Silsden meet Congleton Town at Keighley Road in a battle of two out-of-form teams. Both clubs have won just one of their last six games, and Silsden have lost their last three, conceding 13 goals in the process. Congleton may see this as a chance to get back on track, they sit in ninth and have fallen away from the promotion race after a promising start.
The final game of the day is a true mid-table affair, as 13th-placed Norton United host 11th-placed Stockport Sports. The away side are bottom of the form table though, having not won in their last seven games. Stockport Sports won 7-0 back in September when the two teams first met, but it may well be a different story this time around as both teams have had drastic changes in form since then.
Saturday 23rd February 2013 – FA Vase Fifth Round
Runcorn Town vs Walsall Wood
NWCFL Premier Division
AFC Blackpool vs Stone Dominoes
Bacup Borough vs Ashton Athletic
Barnoldswick Town vs Glossop North End
Colne vs AFC Liverpool
Maine Road vs Bootle
Norton United vs Stockport Sports
Silsden vs Congleton Town
St. Helens Town vs Padiham
Wigan Robin Park vs Runcorn Linnets
Winsford United vs Alsager Town