1. Your Vase highlights
This weekend saw the 1st Round Proper of the Isuzu FA Vase take place, with up to 15 names from the NWCFL still in with a chance to add their names to the hat for Round 2 and take themselves one step closer to maybe, just maybe, a trip to Wembley.
Your game of the weekend for NWCFL-based matches in the Vase is probably the 3-2 nailbiter that Charnock Richard emerged victorious over Burscough in, despite 2 late goals from the latter. But there were also big wins at the weekend for the likes of Brocton, Irlam, South Liverpool, and Stockport Georgians on Tuesday night.
2. Cup draws, cup draws everywhere
Just as last week brought with it 3 different new managerial appointments, this week brings with it 2 different cup competitions having their next round draws being announced. Both the Macron Cup and the Isuzu FA Vase had their 2nd round draws conducted after the weekend, and both competitions offer up some mouthwatering ties.
Probably your pick of the bunch in terms of name value in the Macron Cup will take place at Ramsbottom United's Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, as they will host Bury. As for the Vase, there's the potential for no all-NWCFL ties, depending on how Ashville do in their postponed match next weekend, so we'll mostly have to cheer on our sides against opposition from elsewhere.
3. Oh God, please not again!
When checking the week's results for list-worthy stories, especially in the latter months of the year, I'm not always surprised when I see that a game has been postponed for one reason or another. Waterlogged or frozen pitches are par for the course at step 5 and 6 of non-league football. However, seeing that Runcorn Town’s visit to Nantwich Town in the Cheshire Senior Cup was postponed for a COVID-19 outbreak was quite the shock.
I often try to add a bit of levity to these lists, but when it comes to stuff like infectious diseases, there's not much room for humour. The rest of the NWCFL and I all wish for the best for the affected parties, and hope that this issue is resolved as soon as possible.
4. County Cup wrap-up
Thankfully, that was the only match in local cup competitions this past week that was forced off by COVID. However, other games were called off due to fixture clashes, waterlogged pitches, and the like. Despite all this, we still had games taking place in Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire and West Riding, so let's have a look at those, shall we?
There were a few eye-catching results on the cards, with Maine Road overcoming Abbey Hey 3-1; South Liverpool winning a 6-3 thriller away at AFC Liverpool; Brocton hitting Market Drayton Town for 8 in their own back yard; and Route One Rovers narrowly suffering a 3-2 defeat against Knaresborough Town.
5. Oh, there were also some league games, I guess
Wow, A LOT went on this weekend! Vase and County Cup games, next round draws, and a partridge in a pear tree! So, has anything changed in the leagues? Well, yes! The Premier Division has a new leader, for now, with Bury FC currently 4 points but 3 games ahead of 2nd-placed Wythenshawe, whilst early pacesetters Kendal Town are now very much within touching distance of the likes of Prestwich heys, West Didsbury and Chorlton and Chadderton, who fill out the rest of the top 6.
The peaks and troughs of the First Divisions North and South remain fairly unchanged, but the play-off places in both leagues look mighty interesting at the moment. Only 1 point separates 2nd from 6th in the North, with 2 points being the difference between those same league positions in the South. Also, towards the foot of the South, 2nd-bottom Winsford United have decreased the gap between themselves and safety to just a point now, with Droylsden nervously looking over their shoulder.