With both last night’s Vanarama National League North fixtures throwing together sides separated by a mere point, it was all to play for, as Spennymoor Town welcomed Kidderminster Harriers and Southport hosted Guiseley.
The margin was just as slender in terms of goals on the night, as Spennymoor came out 2-1 victors, and Southport edged home 1-0. It was an enthralling end to the first half at Spennymoor, with two goals in as many minutes. Moors midfielder Andrew Johnson opened the scoring in the 44th minute, netting his seventh of the season, but Aaron Phillips headed home soon after to bring the game level at the break.
Just four minutes into the second half, Spennymoor regained their lead, as Ryan Hall slotted the ball past his namesake, keeper Brandon Hall, resulting in the Harriers going home empty handed.
Southport maintained their impressive unbeaten run by securing their first win of the New Year, as they beat Guiseley by the only goal at Haig Avenue. After an even first half that ended goalless, Southport came out the stronger side, with their efforts duly rewarded in the 54th minute, following a Jack Sampson strike.
Despite a generous five additional minutes, the away side were unable to snatch a late equaliser, meaning Southport took all three points, climbing five places in the league table to 11th in the process.
It’s been a tough week for Kidderminster, having not only lost to Spennymoor last night, but losing their manager, too. On Monday, the club revealed that Neil MacFarlane had left by mutual consent. His dismissal follows a string of below-par performances, with just two wins from his final 10 games in charge in all competitions. Senior players Jimmy O’ Connor and Russ Penn join chairman Colin Gordon in taking the reins for the remainder of the season.
But it's not just managers we’ve seen leave these past few days. Following the departure of their manager, Sam Collins, on Sunday, York City released a statement on Monday morning announcing that their assistant-manager, Stuart Parnaby, had followed suit. FC United of Manchester are another side who are now without an assistant-manager, with Jamie Milligan leaving the club yesterday, due to financial restrictions. Milligan had joined the Red Rebels in October, working alongside current manager Neil Reynolds.
It’s been a busy couple of days for many clubs, following a number of player departures and signings. Promotion-chasing Stockport County yesterday released defender Chris Smalley, who looks likely to sign for Stalybridge Celtic, where he was been on loan since October. Aaron Cunningham’s loan at Blyth Spartans, ended last weekend, and the defender duly returned to his parent club Hartlepool United on Sunday.
However, two players were unable to see out their loan spells, due to being recalled early. Striker Joe Ironside had to cut short his stay at York City, after being called back to parent club Kidderminster Harriers on Monday, while Telford’s loanee, Ryan Barnett, was involved in a very quick turn-around after heading back early to Shrewsbury Town.
The Bucks only revealed the development last night – just as midfielder Barnett was taking his place in Shrewsbury’s starting line-up for their Checkatrade Trophy tie with Port Vale. It finished 1-1, with Vale going through 4-3 on penalties.
Alfreton’s former Alty forward Craig Hobson has left the Derbyshire side, after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent yesterday evening. But out with the old, in with the new, as they say, with the club looking to have found a replacement already, after revealing yesterday the signing of forward Nyle Blake on a one-month loan deal from Mansfield Town.
Hereford also announced an addition to the ranks this week, with 20-year old midfielder Kyle Finn signing a permanent deal from Coventry City on Monday, after being on loan at Edgar Street since October. His contract runs until the end of next season.