Five Things We Learned - Gameweek 32

Wed 8th March 2023 | Five Things
By Jay Cooper

1. Groundhop round-up

The 2023 NWCFL Groundhop took place last weekend, and I wish I'd gone. I didn't, but for anyone reading who also missed out, here's what went down. In the Friday game at Ellesmere Rangers' Beech Grove Stadium, the hosts overcame Alsager Town in a 2-1 win; and the first Saturday game saw Rocester beaten at home by Sandbach United in convincing fashion, with that match finishing 4-0.

This was followed up by fellow relegation zone occupiers Foley Meir losing 1-0 to Maine Road; Abbey Hulton United and Cheadle Heath Nomads playing out a 0-0 draw; and Eccleshall defeating Barnton 2-1 to round out Saturday. On Sunday, Brocton overcame Stockport Georgians in a 1-0 win, before Stafford Town beat Abbey Hey 2-1 to bring Groundhop 2023 to a close.


2. A crucial few days in the Prem

I simply can't not talk about this, can I? Yesterday, Avro made the short trip to Wythenshawe Town's Ericstan Park in a real rubber match at the top of the tree in the NWCFL Prem. When all was said and done, Avro came away from their rivals' ground with all three points, after three goals to Wythy's one.

This wasn't the only game to go Avro's way. Fellow title challengers Vauxhall Motors had been to Winsford United the day before, and had returned with nothing after Winsford's Daniel Boden scored the only goal of the game. Even game-in-hand merchants Bury AFC couldn't eek out a win over bottom side Ashton Athletic in the post-weekend matches. Alex Frost and his players might have one foot in the NPL door already.


3. Setting up for the Vase

As mentioned, Bury AFC managed a 1-1 draw with Ashton Athletic last night. Whilst, on paper, the Shakers were the heavy favourites, you can forgive this result when you consider that they also took to the pitch in the league on Saturday in a 2-0 dismissal of Northwich Victoria. On the same day, Congleton Town made the trip to, coincidentally, Ashton Athletic, and ran out 3-1 winners.

Why is this relevant? Because next weekend, Bury AFC and Congleton Town will go toe to toe at the Bears' Cleric Stadium for a place in the FA Vase semi-final, guaranteeing NWCFL presence in the hat for the final 4. I would also be remiss not to mention West Didsbury and Chorlton, who will host Ascot United in their own Vase crunch tie next weekend, and set themselves up for it nicely be beating Squires Gate 3-1 away from home last weekend.


4. The new faces are facing up in the First Division North

When the NWCFL First Division North got underway for the 2022/23 season, there were 3 new names in the division. Runcorn Town had been relegated from the Premier Division, but, notably, the two sides who'd joined via promotion were newbies to the NWCFL in general - Euxton Villa and FC St Helens.

Well, if you didn't know that already, you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd been in the league for years, given how well they've navigated the waters in their first foray into the division. Euxton Villa went on an incredible run of goalscoring in their first few months in the league and have sat in the play-off places for a good while. Recently joining them are FC St Helens, who have been knocking these last few weeks from below the dotted line, and have leapfrogged Holker Old Boys into those coveted top 5 places this very weekend.


5. Death, taxes, and Stockport Town scoring

Since snatching 1st place in the league from Wythenshawe Amateurs before the new year, Stockport Town have held onto that place with a vice-like grip. In all competitions, they've only suffered 1 loss in their last 14 games, and their score lines from those matches include 4-0's, 5-0's, a 5-1, and even a 7-0 win.

This run only takes us back to the turn of the year, but going further and looking at their season as a whole, one can see why there is such a striking difference in the goal difference stat between Town and the rest of the First Division South. From 32 league games, they've mustered a mental +73 goal difference. The second best in the league are, who else, Wythy Ammies, who have a difference of +48, which is absolutely commendable, but certainly overshadowed.

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