Sport

Non-league Matters: Award-winning Joe Connor leads Stockport County to Nuneaton as Hyde face Newport

By Ross McLean

As plucky Altrincham make a return to league action after their FC Cup defeat, Mancunian Matters takes a look at this week’s non-league action.

Nuneaton Town v Stockport County

Stockport County will have the newly-crowned Blue Square Premier Player of the Season among their number as they travel to Warwickshire to face basement boys Nuneaton Town.

Joe Connor beat off stiff competition to win the accolade at Monday night’s North West Football Awards.

And County fans will be eager for the 26-year-old to continue this form as the club eye a place in the promotion mix and push for a play-off berth.

The Hatters suffered a 4-1 humbling last weekend at Forest Green although Jim Gannon’s side had previously put together a run of only one defeat in eight league outings.

Nuneaton have only won twice in the league this season and have not tasted victory since early September when they defeated AFC Telford United.

Newport County v Hyde

Hyde return to league action after defeat to Maine Road in Monday evening’s Manchester Premier Cup.

Scott McNiven’s side face the daunting trip to face the league leaders on their own turf this weekend, although Newport County ’s form has deserted them slightly of late.

The Exiles have only won one of their last six matches in all competitions and lost by the odd goal in seven last Friday at Alfreton Town.

For their part, Hyde have featured in a number of cup competitions of late but their form guide in the league shows two wins from their last three outings.

However, Hyde will no doubt be aware that Newport have only lost once at home this season and have the league’s top scorer – 14-goal Aaron O’Connor – in their ranks.

Altrincham v Hinckley United

In Blue Square Bet North, Altrincham entertain Hinckley United less than 48 hours after their FA Cup first round replay defeat at the hands of Burton Albion.

The part-timers were far from outclassed by their League Two opponents but second-half goals from Chris Palmer and Calvin Zola ended the Robins’ FA Cup adventure for another season.

Hinckley are rooted to the bottom of the table with only one league win to their name so far this campaign, with their sole victory coming way back in August.

Although Lee Sinnott will be mindful his side are on a three-match losing streak at Moss Lane, he will note the Knitters have recorded 11 league defeats on the spin.

Prolific forward Damian Reeves was largely kept quiet last night by the Burton backline and failed to add to his haul of 20 goals for the campaign.

The 26-year-old will surely be raring to face a Hinckley defence which has conceded 40 goals in 14 league matches so far this season, and 13 in their last three.

AFC Halifax Town v Droylsden

Droylsden head to West Yorkshire tomorrow to face high-flying FC Halifax Town in a testing fixture for Dave Pace’s side.

Halifax find themselves in sixth-place in the league although due to their cup exploits have games in hand on all teams currently above them.

The Yorkshiremen’s form at the Shay has been generally good this campaign although there are chinks in the armour as defeats to Boston United and Colwyn Bay testify.

However, the Bloods have not travelled well this season and suffered heavy away defeats at Corby Town and Gainsborough Trinity prior to last week’s 2-1 reverse at Workington.

Halifax are second in the division’s form guide behind Guiseley, while Droylsden could come up against former striker Dale Johnson, who has six goals to his name this season.

Brackley Town v Stalybridge Celtic

Stalybridge Celtic also face a difficult away day at Brackley Town who are currently top of the pops in the Blue Square Bet North.

Jim Harvey’s side are in 11th place in the standings after recording only one win in their last five outings.

Brackley are in comparatively good form, unbeaten in their last five in all competitions and on a three-match winning streak.

The Saints recorded solid away wins in their previous two league matches at Worcester City and Vauxhall Motors.

Brackley certainly carry a goal threat with Glenn Walker, Owen Story and Stephen Diggin all finding the back of the net on a regular basis this season.

Stalybridge though also have a player who features among the league’s top scorers – Jack Laird has six goals to his name.

Best of the Rest

Evo-Stik Premier Division and Evo-Stik League Division (One) North

Ashton United are looking to cement their place in the promotion mix and secure a third win on the spin when they travel to North Yorkshire to play Whitby Town.

FC United of Manchester are ninth in the league but have games in hand on all teams currently above them.

The Red Rebels will be eager to propel themselves towards the play-offs when they host Rushall Olympic.

In Evo-Stik League Division One (North), there is a top-six clash as Trafford host Ramsbottom United.

There is certainly the potential for goals at Shawe View as some of the division’s most in-form strikers go head to head.

Trafford frontman Michael Oates has 18 for the season, while Rammy’s Lee Gaskell and Jon Robinson have bagged 12 and seven for the campaign respectively.

Curzon Ashton will look to build on Monday evening’s 3-2 victory at the Tameside Stadium over Ossett Albion as they entertain Burscough.

League leaders Mossley welcome basement side Garforth Town to Seel Park, while their nearest rivals Skelmersdale United play host to improving Radcliffe Borough.

Mossley player-manager Steve Halford will be hoping Radcliffe can maintain their four match unbeaten run as Skelmersdale, trailing the Lilywhites by nine points, still have five games in hand.

Ninth-placed Salford City will look to get back to winning ways when they entertain Ossett Town.

Picture credit: Stockport County

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