Non-League Matters: Manchester sides look to put disrupted Christmas behind them and get back on victory trail

By Matt Davies & Ross McClean

After a busy Christmas and New Year period full of postponements and disruption, Manchester’s clubs are all looking to return to league action this weekend.

Blue Square Bet Premier

Cambridge United v Stockport County

Jim Gannon’s side have four points from two games over New Year, and defeated Hyde last time out, courtesy of Connor Jennings’ strike, his second in as many games.

The Hatters have 28 points from 24 games so far, while Cambridge United go into this match unbeaten in eight league games.

United have scored 16 goals in those eight games, and strikers Tom Elliot and Michael Gash provide the firepower for the U’s, having scored 20 goals between them.

Stockport’s Cameron Darkwah and Euan Holden – brother of Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart – have both left the club this week.

Hyde v Forest Green Rovers

Hyde welcome Forest Green to Ewen Fields looking to return to winning ways after losing for the first time in four games last time out.

The Tigers won four out of five in December and will be hoping striker Phil Jevons can continue the goal scoring form that has seen him net on 15 occasions this season.

Rovers, meanwhile, come into this match on the back of a 5-0 win over Newport County, a quick turnaround after losing 2-1 to County in the game before.

Both Norwood and Yan Klukowski both have ten goals to their name this season, providing the goal-threat for Forest Green.

Blue Square Bet North

Altrincham v Harrogate Town

Altrincham host Harrogate looking to return to a steady run of league action after playing just six league games since the start of November.

The Robins defeated Stalybridge Celtic 2-1 last time out, thanks to goals from top-scorer Damian Reeves and Jake Moult, after Celtic keeper Alex Cairns was dismissed.

Duncan Watmore is a doubt for Alty after hobbling off during the Celtic win, while defender Matt Doughty is in line to make his 100th start for the Robins.

Hinckley United v Stalybridge Celtic

Stalybridge travel to bottom of the division Hinckley looking in need of some form after five defeats in their last nine games.

Celtic went down 2-1 at Altrincham last time out despite leading after controversially losing goal-keeper Alex Cairns to a red card.

That defeat ended a three game unbeaten run and left Celtic in 11th with 28 points, after picking up eight wins from 22 games so far this campaign.

Jack Laird has 12 goals so far for Stalybridge and will be hoping to add to that tally against a Hinckley side with just one point so far this season.

They had three points deducted for failing to pay football creditors and have already conceded 70 goals this season in 22 games.

Droylsden v Brackley Town

Droylsden host Brackley on the back of a run of four straight league defeats.

The Bloods have just 12 points so far this campaign, but did manage to score three times against league-leaders Chester in their last match and still end up with nothing to show for it.

James Ellison scored a hat-trick for Dave Pace’s side, but the Bloods were 3-0 down inside eight minutes.

The best of the rest

In the Evo-Stik Premier Division, FC United of Manchester travel to the Weaver Stadium where Nantwich Town lie in wait.

Aside from ten minutes against Witton Albion on Boxing Day, this will be the Red Rebels’ first competitive action since mid-December.

FC United’s away form has been solid this season with only two defeats to their name, with important victories at Chorley and Blyth Spartans recorded in December.

Ashton United are also on the road and head to Lincolnshire to face Grantham Town.

With the disrupted fixture list, the point Danny Johnson’s men picked up against Stafford Rangers was their first since late November.

Skelmersdale United remain the team to beat in Evo-Stik League Division One (North) although Trafford look a force to be reckoned with as the season’s business end approaches.

However, a tough assignment awaits them this weekend with a trip to New Mills.

The Millers thrashed league leaders Mossley in their own backyard last time out and are challenging for position at the top of the league.

The Lilywhites will look to re-engage in the with the visit of lowly Ossett Albion to Seel Park.

Elsewhere, in-form Ramsbottom United travel to Irongate for a fixture with Neil Crowe’s Bamber Bridge while Curzon Ashton head to Prescot Cables.

Salford City are away at much-improved Cammell Laird while Radcliffe Borough travel to play-off hopefuls Clitheroe.

Picture courtesy of Ingy The Wingy via Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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