Non-league Matters: Altrincham and Stalybridge Celtic take centre-stage in Blue Square Bet North promotion race

By Matt Davies

Another busy weekend of non-League action around Manchester offers the opportunity for Altrincham and Stalybridge Celtic to close the gap in the race for promotion spots.

Hyde and Stockport County both have the weekend off so the focus turns to which clubs could join them next season in the race for promotion from the Blue Square Bet North.

Stockport are next in league action on Tuesday when they entertain Mansfield Town whereas Hyde visit Vauxhall Motors in the Cheshire Senior Cup, also in five days’ time.

Blue Square Bet North

Worcester City v Altrincham

Altrincham travel to St Georges Lane to play Worcester City, with only goal difference separating the two sides, both on 33 points so far this campaign.

The Robins in seventh are above City, after a 3-0 win at Harrogate last time out moved them in to the play-off places for the first time this season.

Simon Richman, Carl Rodgers and the prolific Damian Reeves, who now has 21 league goals, were all on target for Alty who have now won three of the last four.

Reeves and Duncan Watmore are in line to feature this Saturday after injury, while Jordon Sinnott could feature for the final time as his loan from Huddersfield Town expires.

Both sides are three points behind fourth placed Gainsborough Trinity, although the Robins have played two games less than City ahead of this clash.

Alty won 3-0 when the sides met in the FA Trophy earlier in the season.

Stalybridge Celtic v Corby Town

Stalybridge welcome Corby Town to Bower Fold also looking to cement their position in the play-off places in the BSB North.

Celtic won 3-0 at basement side Hinckley on Saturday – their highest away win of the season – thanks to goal from Mitchell Austin, Joel Bembo-Leta and top scorer Jack Laird.

They followed this with a 3-1 win against Bishop Stortford in midweek courtesy of strikes from Jamie Mullen, Kristian Platt and another for Laird, with 14 goals for the season, and moved Stalybridge up to fifth on 34 points.

Corby on the other hand are in 17th place, with seven wins from their 21 games this season leaving them nine points behind their hosts.

Town have won just two games on the road all season, and a 2-1 defeat to high flying Guiseley last time out ended a four match unbeaten league run.

Solihull Moors v Droylsden

Droylsden travel to Solihull Moors looking to end a run of five straight defeats in the BSB North.

The Bloods were beaten 3-0 by promotion chasing Brackley Town last time out and have taken just one point from their last eight league games.

Only bottom placed Hinckley have a worse defensive record than the Bloods, with Dave Pace’s side in 21st place on 12 points so far this season.

Solihull on the other hand sit in 13th position on 28 points, with seven wins and seven defeats from their 21 games this season.

The Moors are unbeaten in 11 league games since losing to Worcester at the start of October, but have drawn three in a row ahead of this encounter.

The best of the rest

In the Evo-Stik Premier Division, FC United of Manchester and Ashton United face testing home fixtures as both clubs look to build on solid away wins last Saturday.

Ninth-placed Stafford Rangers visit Gigg Lane with the Red Rebels, who still have games in hand, looking to firm up their position near the top of the division.

Danny Johnson’s Ashton United won for the first time since mid-November last Saturday and will be aiming for another three-point haul when they host Buxton.

With Skelmersdale United heading to Kenilworth Road to play Luton Town in the third round of the FA Trophy, Mossley have a chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.

The Lilywhites entertain third-placed Trafford in Evo-Stik League Division One (North), who like Skem could overtake Steve Halford’s men should they have a decent points return from their games in hand.

Garry Vaughan’s men will aim to knock another fellow promotion rival off their perch after defeating New Mills last weekend.

In-form Ramsbottom United, who have ten points from their last four matches, host New Mills whose away form this season has been terrific.

The Millers have recorded seven away wins from their eight fixtures so far, including a four-goal demolition of Mossley the last time they were on the road.

Elsewhere, John Flanagan’s Curzon Ashton host vastly improved Cammell Laird, who themselves are on the fringes of the play-offs.

Radcliffe Borough face Ossett Town at Stainton Park while Salford City also play Yorkshire opposition and welcome Wakefield to Moor Lane.

Image courtesy of Altrincham FC, via YouTube, with thanks.

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