Sport

Non-League Matters: Curzon Ashton boss John Flanagan eyes maximum points from Easter weekend

By Ross McLean

Curzon Ashton manager John Flanagan has set his sights on maximum points from the Easter programme but is wary of playing teams with relegation on their minds.

The fourth-placed Tamesiders are in the mix for a play-off spot but suffered a blow in midweek with a surprising home defeat to Ossett Town.

Flanagan believes his side are more than capable of retuning to winning ways this weekend with lowly Ossett Albion and Wakefield laying in wait.

“On paper, we should get six points but ideally at this stage of the season you are looking to play teams in mid-table,” he said.

“Teams which are not competing for the play-offs and not involved in the relegation picture.

“My gut feeling is we are more than capable of bouncing back after losing on Monday night.

“I’m confident we will go to Ossett Albion and take the points and do the same on Easter Monday against Wakefield.”

The Evo-Stik League Division One North play-off picture is extremely tight with up to eight teams vying for four spaces and a shot at promotion.

And the former Woodley Sports boss sees a few twists and turns unfolding between now and the end of the season.

“It’s incredibly competitive and if you look at the fixtures for each team, there are a lot of the teams playing each other,” he added.

“And the teams in there are capable of dropping points so I think there are a few more surprises yet.

“Last year Garforth Town took fifth place with 79 points and I wouldn’t be surprised if a team got in there this time with 76 or 77 points.”

As is the norm with non-league football, teams have a range of games left to play – New Mills have 13 to go compared to Clitheroe’s six for instance.

And despite the league season being extended by a week, Flanagan holds the view that factors such as fixture congestion may yet come into play.

“New Mills are in a strong position but as time goes on the more fixtures they are going to have to fit in,” he said.

“You cannot look at it and say which teams are going to finish where because I really believe teams are going to drop points.

“We will just have to see and keep our fingers crossed we don’t get any injuries to key players.”

Evo-Stik Fixture Round-up

Evo-Stik Premier Division

All Greater Manchester sides in the Evo-Stik Premier Division and Evo-Stik League Division One North have fixtures today and on Monday.

FC United of Manchester travel to Kendal Town today before entertaining Stocksbridge Park Steels in two days time.

Danny Johnson’s Ashton United host Frickley Athletic before heading to Stafford Rangers.

Evo-Stik League Division One North

Fresh from lifting the Manchester Premier Cup in midweek, Mossley host Radcliffe Borough before heading to Church Lane to face New Mills.

Salford City – licking their wounds from Wednesday’s final defeat on penalties – play host to league leaders Skelmersdale United before heading to Trafford.

Trafford are at Garforth Town today ahead of their Monday showdown with the Ammies at Shawe View.

Ramsbottom United welcome Farsley to the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium before playing Radcliffe Borough at Stainton Park.

New Mills are at Lancaster City’s Giant Axe today before their home game with Mossley in two days time.

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