For varying reasons, it was a slimmed-down fixture list in the Vanarama National League North this weekend, but there was still plenty for Altrincham director BILL WATERSON to reflect on. In his customary in-depth round-up of all the action, Bill casts an eye over Saturday’s winners and losers – and we all know which category Alty were in!
December is upon us, a month where the weather can begin to exact a toll on games and where the lure of pre-Christmas shopping can reduce attendances. Additionally, there is disruption from those sides whose continuing involvement in the Emirates FA Cup or Buildbase FA Trophy necessitates league fixtures being put on the back burner.
And so it proved this weekend, with just eight games appearing on the Vanarama National League North schedule, due to Cup commitments, and only seven surviving to kick-off time, after Spennymoor’s home game against Kidderminster Harriers fell victim to a waterlogged pitch.
Not a single National League North side played in the Cup on Saturday. Of the three left in it, Stockport County (at Barnet), and Southport (at Tranmere Rovers) were scheduled to play on Sunday, with Guiseley hosting Fleetwood Town on Monday. The teams they were due to face in the league - Ashton United, Leamington and Curzon Ashton - were therefore without a game.
In the seven matches played, Bradford (Park Avenue) arguably eclipsed even Alty for performance of the day after maintaining top position with an impressive 2-0 win at our next opponents AFC Telford United. The form table shows that they have been unbeatable away from the Horsfall Stadium – well, unbeatable in the league, at least!
As we all know, they came unstuck on their travels in the Trophy at The J.Davidson Stadium, though, to be fair to them, they are going great guns in the league, having now secured 37 points from 19 games to lead the way. AFC Telford have 31 points from 19 and have dropped to fifth after their first defeat in six games.
Chorley maintained second position, but, by their lofty early-season standards, a 1-1 home draw with Boston United would have to be seen as points dropped. They are three points behind the West Yorkshire side who recently knocked them off top spot, but they do have two games in hand.
In third place are Chester, who, despite being reduced to 10 men after half-an-hour, still had enough to beat Darlington 3-1 at the Deva, with new signing from Tamworth Akwasi Asante scoring a hat-trick on his debut. The form table shows Chester are the best side in the league at home, with only one defeat in their 10 matches at the Deva this season. Overall, they have 33 points from 19 games.
And moving up to fourth are Alty, for whom another impressive performance on Saturday was rewarded with a 2-1 win at Brackley Town. The support was once again amazing, particularly in the last 15 minutes, when a non-stop chorus of “Come on Alty” lifted the team and carried them over the line. With 31 points from 18 games, we have risen above AFC Telford United, making next Saturday’s game a tasty fourth v fifth showdown at The J.Davidson Stadium, as well as Spennymoor and Kidderminster, who are both on the 30-mark. Brackley held on to eighth, with 28 from 19.
Boston United’s point at Chorley kept them in ninth, where they were joined on 26 points by Blyth Spartans, after their 3-1 win at Nuneaton Borough. They are both ahead of Leamington (25 points) and Stockport County (24). York City’s 2-0 home win against FC United of Manchester took them to 23 points and lifted them above Alfreton Town, who lost 2-1 at Hereford, and Curzon Ashton, who, as already stated, were without a game.
Guiseley and Darlington are 16th and 17th respectively on 20 points, while Hereford’s win moved them up to 18th on 18 points. They are immediately above Southport, FC United and Ashton United, all on 17 points, with the Sandgrounders being the ones outside the relegation zone. Nuneaton still prop up the table on 11 points and are now without a win in their last nine games.