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