Five Things We Learned - Gameweek 36

Wed 5th April 2023 | Five Things
By Jay Cooper

1. Heartbroken Bears

I know I mentioned Congleton Town's crunch tie with Newport Pagnell Town in last week's list, but now, the match has happened, we know the outcome, and it's so unfortunate that the Bears have finally eliminated from the FA Vase after such a hard-fought campaign.

Goals from player-manager Richard Duffy in the first half and Ethan Hartshorn in the second were enough to see Town go beat for beat against the reigning holders of the FA Vase, but it would be the unpredictable penalty shootout, which served Congleton so well in the quarter final against Bury AFC, that would see them beaten this time by 3 strikes to 2. They've still got the Macron Cup SF to look forward to - silver lining, I suppose.


2. Speaking of the Macron Cup...

It's back at the weekend! The semi-finals will take place on Saturday at 3pm. As mentioned, Congleton Town will be a part of the action, but they won't have the home advantage for this particular semi-final. They travel to fellow Prem side Kendal Town, who are coming into this clash having drawn their most recent league game 2-2 against Padiham.

In the other match, which consists of two sides from the NWCFL First Division North, Bacup Borough will play host to play-off chasing FC St. Helens. These two sides have faced each other twice in the league already this season, with Bacup winning their home encounter 2-1, and FC winning their home encounter 3-2. Quite the rubber match.


3. Here come the Motormen!

Once again, after mentioning Congleton both last week and this week, I have to do the same for Vauxhall Motors, and this one is seismic. After getting back to winning ways throughout March and having their defeat to Winsford struck from the record, they went face to face with Bury AFC, their likeliest title challengers, in a match at Mossley's Seel Park - Bury AFC's temporary home.

What do you know, a Michael Burkey strike 6 minutes into the second half would be enough to see the Motormen grind out a vital 1-0 win over their rivals, and tighten their grip on top of the league for now, and what may well be the handles of the NWCFL Premier Division trophy come the end of the season.


4. Self-inflicted gash for Ashton
At the bottom of the first Division North, Cleator Moor Celtic and Runcorn Town are the bottom two sides, as I commented on last week (yet again). Well, also in the mix are Ashton Town, and they went toe-to-toe with Cleator Moor in a 6-pointer this weekend. Both sides came away from this one with a point each, but it looked so likely to be Ashton who would take 3 points from McGrath Park.

That was until the clock struck 90+7, and a hugely unfortunate own goal would allow the hosts to steal a draw from the jaws of defeat. Ashton are now in the final relegation zone spot, and Nelson, the team directly above them, took all 3 points from Celtic yesterday evening. They face off against each other on Saturday, too - that will be a nailbiter!


5. The play-off doors are closing in the South

Barnton, who are in 9th place and currently sit 16 points behind the dotted line, play a crucial part in this short story, strangely. Last Wednesday, Cheadle Town faced Barnton and won 3-0 away from home to leapfrog Ellesmere Rangers into the final play-off spot. Rangers then made the same trip to Barnton at the weekend, but were beaten 3-1 at Townfield.

Since then, Cheadle, who didn't feature at the weekend, have faced off against Abbey Hulton United at home, and won 2-0, to stretch the gap between themselves and Ellesmere to 4 points. With only 2 games left for either side to play, all Cheadle Town have to do is win in Monday's Cheadle derby against the Nomads to sew up the play-off spots in the NWCFL First Division South.

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