Andrew’s Match Preview
Hanley Town v Colne
Monday 2nd January - 15:00
Colne travel 83 miles to Staffordshire for the first game of the new year to take on Hanley Town in a NPL West League encounter.
Hanley Town nicknamed the Blues, were founded in 1966 and play their home games at Potteries Park in Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, with an average attendance this season of 201. Last season Hanley won the Midland Football League Premier Division, gaining them promotion to the Northern Premier League West Division. The two clubs met earlier in the season in a league game at Holt House, where a Lucas Weaver goal gave the Reds a 1-0 half-time lead, but the Blues hit back with an equaliser from then player manager Carl Dickinson and then grabbed a winner 2 minutes from time through Daniel Glover.
This season the Blues have won 6, drawn 2 and lost 11, which gives them 20 points from 19 games, as they sit in 17th place. Town have failed to win at home all season, but have 6 away wins at Ramsbottom United 3-1, Colne 2-1, Glossop North End 4-2, Kidsgrove Athletic 2-1, Bootle 4-1 and 1874 Northwich 1-0. They did manage home wins in the preliminary and qualifying rounds of the FA Cup earlier this season beating Hinckley LRFC 1-0, Stourbridge 2-1 after a replay, and Atherstone Town 4-1, before bowing out at home to Chester 0-4 in another replay. Hanley never got past the 1st qualifying round in the FA Trophy losing 0-2 at Carlton Town. In their last fixture, last Monday the Blues were beaten 0-4 at league leaders Macclesfield, but they gained a creditable home draw 1-1 with Mossley in their last home game at the beginning of December and were only pegged back by an equaliser in injury time.
Hanley Town players to watch - 34 year old ex premier league defender Ryan Shotton is Blues’ most iconic player. He spent 8 years at Stoke City, then had spells with Derby County, Birmingham City and Middlesbrough. Although originally a right back, Shotton can also play in the centre of defence and up front when required. Ryan took over as player manager in October after the shock (mutual consent) departure of former player manager Carl Dickinson.
Striker/midfielder Louis Dodds has over 400 EFL appearances behind him after beginning his career at Leicester City. After spells at Port Vale, Shrewsbury and Chesterfield, the 36 year old joined Town in 2021 and he has 3 goals to his credit this season.
Striker James Lawrie was capped 3 times for Northern Ireland whilst playing for Port Vale. Lawrie dropped down to non league in 2010 turning out for Telford United, Altrincham, Hednesford Town, Nantwich Town and Witton Albion. James joined the Blues in the summer and has contributed 5 goals.
Another product of Stoke City’s academy, midfielder Jake Twyford joined the Blues from Leek Town
and he’s contributed 6 goals this term.
Former Port Vale graduate Charlie Walford operates down the left hand channel and is another who joined Hanley from Leek Town.
Port Vale’s youth player of the season 20/21 Eden Bailey, has just joined the Blues on loan from Altrincham for the remainder of the season. The 18 year old striker is held in high regard by Altrincham manager Phil Parkinson, who described him as a “modern day centre forward” and a “real diamond”.
Young goal scorer Jake Avery has made the number 7 shirt his own since making the switch from Uttoxeter Town 12 months ago. Jake has 4 goals to his name this season and is arguably Hanley’s most dangerous player.
Last time out for the Reds - Last Monday the Reds took on 5th placed Lancashire rivals Clitheroe in an all action Boxing Day Derby at Holt House. Two changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Witton Albion in Colne’s last game - Tom McCann replaced the holidaying Tom Fagan at right-back and Paul Dugdale returned in place of Jake Wallace, who returned to Fleetwood Town after his loan deal expired. Oli Roberts moved to his more familiar role in the middle of the park to accommodate Dugdale at left-back. On a very cold, blustery afternoon, quality wasn’t the order of the day and with both sides having several players who’d played for the opposition, a feisty derby was played out.
The Blues had some early play but struggled to control possession down the slope when attacking, and the Reds came back into it as the half progressed making it pretty even with a few half chances for each side. Colne won a couple of free kicks in dangerous areas and from one of these on 34 minutes, Oli Roberts rolled the ball for Owen Watkinson, whose shot was blocked, and eventually it fell to centre half Tom Hoyle, who finished with aplomb, smashing the ball home from the edge of the 18 yard box. Colne looked like they would be taking that lead into the break, but despite cries from the Reds’ bench for the ref to blow up, he somehow found 4 minutes added time and Clitheroe took full advantage. A surprisingly short throw from Lee Pugh deep in the Colne half, was returned to him by Reece Webb-Foster and Pugh’s cross was headed home by the unmarked Cameron Lancaster. Colne’s goal scorer Hoyle didn’t come out for the second half due to him feeling unwell and his replacement Ben Anderson debuted at left-back with Paul Dugdale moving over to centre-half. Only 5 minutes in and a late challenge from Pugh on Watkinson gave Roberts another dangerous free kick on the edge of the area. His resulting free kick came back to him off the wall, but his short pass inside was returned to him out wide and his deft pass to the edge of the 6 yard box found “natural goal scorer” Craig Carney, and his clever finish restored the Reds’ lead. The Blues huffed and puffed for the remainder of the half without much cut. Luisama tired and was replaced by Danny Kyobe as the Reds dropped deeper, and sustained pressure in the last ten minutes from Clitheroe, encouraged by player manager Billy Priestley who pushed himself up front, saw a couple of half chances for Cane and one for Webb-Foster, but the Reds’ rearguard held firm. In the last minute, two successive corners found the heads of Priestley and Gonzales respectively, but their thumping headers were tipped over acrobatically by Mendes and the three points stayed this side of Pendle Hill. This was the best league win of the season for the Reds and ensured a jump up to 14th place in the league, their highest placing this term. Mendes’ last minute heroics shaded him the man of the match in his last outing in Colne’s colours.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Glenn Steel is back in full training and could be back in contention if he considers himself fit enough.
Luke Stowe continues his hamstring rehab and isn’t far away from a return.
Aaron Turner is still awaiting a scan, concerning his meniscus knee issue.
Jack Doherty is hoping to have surgery for his ACL injury in the new year. This injury has ruled him out for the season.
Hakan Burton continues his rehabilitation, which could see him return in a couple of months. The Colne keeper is back training fitness wise, but not yet shot stopping.
Team news - Tom Fagan should be back for inclusion after his return from holiday and Glenn Steel could return if ready. Any issues, and it’s likely that Hoyle and Winstanley will continue as the centre back pairing. Goalkeeper Andre Mendes has returned to his parent club Morecambe, but the Reds have secured the services of Fleetwood Town’s young keeper Tom Donaghy until the end of the season. Tom has featured twice this season for Lancaster City in the NPL Premier league and had a very successful loan spell at National League North side Farsley Celtic in 21/22, keeping 5 clean sheets in 13 league and FA Trophy appearances. Ben Anderson got a valuable 45 minutes against Clitheroe at left-back and had a very assured debut - he’ll be hoping for more minutes from the bench. Another player who had a cameo debut last Monday was Sheikh Mohammed Islam. An attacking midfielder, “Shak” has previously played with Darwen and Sandbach United and has been training with the Reds for a couple of months.
McDaniel “Danny” Kyobe also got a late run out after returning from injury and he’s another pushing for game time from the dugout. Tom McCann had a very good game at right back last week and he would continue if Tom Fagan was unavailable. Ellis Wallbank completes the squad.
Loan watch - Matty Kardacz played the full 90 minutes for Padiham in their Boxing day derby game at home to Barnoldswick Town. The Storks don’t play again until next weekend when they visit Longridge Town.
Hanley Town are not a team in form and have found themselves slipping down the table with only one win in their last seven, five of which were losses. In fact the Blues haven’t won since beating 1874 Northwich 1-0 in early November. Their recent slump has not been helped by not managing to win a home league game all season, and surprisingly changing managers in October (citing financial reasons) when they were seventh in the league. Colne on the other hand have lost just once in their last eight league encounters and are a side on the move up the table, enhanced by recording their best league win of the season in beating Clitheroe 2-1 in their last fixture. The Reds were very unfortunate to lose their last away game at second place Leek Town after dominating most of the play, and that performance came on the back of two 1-0 wins at Glossop North End and Newcastle Town and a 0-0 draw at Ramsbottom United.
Town are a very experienced and workmanlike rather than spectacular side, and they are now finding out just how tough this league can be. They clearly have threats in Jake Avery and new signing Eden Bailey and they’ll take confidence from the fact that they have beaten the Reds on their own patch earlier in the season, but this Colne side are a different animal these days and the naivety shown in the first few months of the campaign has been eradicated, and a more confident and determined team has emerged.
There are no easy games in this division and holiday fixtures can very often throw up skewed results, but if Phil Brown’s side can take the game to their opponents and show their authority early on, they can add to the 40 goals Hanley have conceded this season, then rely on the best defence outside of the top four, to hold on and take all three points back to Lancashire.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £9
Concessions : £5
Under 12’s : Free
Bucknall, Stoke on Trent
Sat 7th January - Colne v Trafford - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 14th January - Mossley v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 21st January - Colne v Glossop North End - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 11th February - 1874 Northwich v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Tues 28th February - Colne v Workington - 19:45 NPL West
Today’s NPL West games - 15:00
City of Liverpool v Bootle
Clitheroe v Workington
Kidsgrove Athletic v Newcastle Town
Leek Town v 1874 Northwich
Mossley v Ramsbottom United
Prescot Cables v Skelmersdale United
Trafford v Glossop North End
Widnes v Macclesfield
Witton Albion v Runcorn Linnets