Andrew’s Match Preview
Kidsgrove Athletic v Colne
Tuesday 31st January - 19:45
Colne make the long 80 mile mid-week trip South to Staffordshire to take on Kidsgrove Athletic in the Northern Premier League West.
Kidsgrove Athletic, nicknamed the Grove, were founded in 1952 and play their homes games at Hollinwood Road. Their average home attendance this season is 334, boosted by a 1200 gate against Macclesfield. Kidsgrove finished in 10th spot last season and in the head to head, an Ethan Hartshorn goal cancelled out Reece Webb-Foster’s opener in a 1-1 draw at The Autonet Stadium in August, but a last minute winner from Dean Ing gave the home side all 3 points in the return fixture at Holt House. The Grove were the first visitors to Holt House this season arriving for the opening league game back in August. They totally out-played the young home side in the first half, helped by an unlucky sending off for Harry Jones just after the half hour mark, and goals from Kieran Brown and Kyle Diskin sent the visitors in at the break with a 2 goal lead. Two half time substitutions saw McCann and Dugdale introduced and Dugdale’s experience helped settle the defence and there were no more goals in the game.
This season, the Grove have won 8, drawn 7 and lost 7, giving them 31 points from 22 games, which sees them sit in 9th place. At home they have won against Glossop North End 1-0, Bootle 2-1, Prescot Cables 2-0, and Clitheroe 2-1. They have lost at home to Hanley Town 1-2, Macclesfield 0-3 and Skelmersdale United 1-2. Draws against 1874 Northwich 3-3, Witton Albion 1-1, Mossley 2-2 and Newcastle Town 0-0 complete their home league record. Kidsgrove were knocked out of both FA competitions at the first stage, losing 1-2 at home to Lye Town in the FA Cup and 3-4 at home to Hinckley LRFC in the Trophy.
Kidsgrove Athletic players to watch - Former Newcastle Town and Leek Town striker Aaron Bott is the Groves’ leading goal scorer with 11 strikes in all competitions this season. The 25 year old joined Athletic from Congleton Town.
Striker Kingsley Adu-Gyamfi is in his second season since joining the club from Silverdale Athletic. Kingsley is very quick and hard working and scored 13 goals for the Grove last season and has 3 so far this term.
Will Saxon is in his second spell at the club, returning after playing in the NPL Premier with Nantwich Town and the NPL West with Leek Town. The attacking midfielder/winger has 3 goals on the slate this season.
Winger Kieran Knapper is another with 3 goals this term in 22 appearances. Kieran is a very direct and penetrative attacking player who joined Kidsgrove from Vauxhall Motors this season.
Ever present Jack Bromfield midfielder/defender served his apprenticeship at Burton Albion. The 21 year old is a student at Staffordshire University and a groundsman for Stoke City.
Josh Thorpe has finally returned to the first team after suffering a serious ACL injury 2 years ago. The former Hanley Town captain plays centre half for the Grove and is looking to make up for lost time.
Callum Leigh joined Witton Albion from Welsh side TNS in 2021, then moved onto Widnes. The central midfielder then joined the Grove 12 months ago, but elected to sign for Clitheroe in the summer. He featured for the Blues 26 times this season including two substitute appearances against the Reds. He returned to Kidsgrove a fortnight ago.
Former Kidsgrove midfielder Scott Dundas has been the gaffer for the last couple of seasons after joining from Chasetown. Scott started his managerial career at Norton United which was cut short after they resigned from the NPL in 2015.
Last time out for the Reds - Colne travelled to Cheshire to take on full-timers and league leaders Macclesfield at Moss Rose on Saturday. There was plenty of bemused head scratching for the travelling Red army when the team was announced. In what was always going to be Colne’s biggest test of the season, their two most experienced stalwart defenders weren’t in the first eleven. Glenn Steel was sat on the bench and Paul Dugdale was sat in the stand! The home side had scored 94 goals in all competitions already this season, so Ben Anderson’s inclusion on the left hand side of a defensive three, for his first start in nine months, was a huge ask for the young former Lancaster City left-back. He was joined at the back by 21 year old Harry Winstanley and 19 year old Tom Hoyle. Anderson for Dugdale was the only change from the side that drew at Mossley a fortnight ago. Macclesfield are non league’s most progressive club and they have more than enough quality and experience to beat sides however they choose to take them on, so it was a brave and opportunistic strategy to try to take the game to them. That strategy was cruelly laid bare however after 8 minutes, when Kengni turned the exposed Anderson on the half way line and raced on and into the Colne box and beat Donaghy at his near post. The Macclesfield right hand side was where the action continued, as it was obvious that Oli Roberts, unfamiliar to the left-wing back role, struggled to press, then get back to support Anderson down that flank, unlike the partnership on the other side between Fagan and Hoyle. As the pressure ramped up from the pacy wealth of talent Macc possess, Winstanley, busily trying to keep former Premier league striker Nicky Maynard quiet, struggled to keep the defence in check and as a consequence the communication suffered. Two scrappy soft goals followed on 29 and 36 minutes from former Red Alex Curran and player manager Neil Danns, as the rudderless Colne defence were at sixes and sevens. Half time couldn’t come soon enough for the beleaguered Reds, as changes were an obvious necessity. Glenn Steel entered the fray at the expense of Ben Anderson, and natural left sided Luke Stowe replaced Oli Roberts in what was Luke’s belated return from hamstring injury.
Winstanley moved over to his left as Steel took over the reins at the back. Macc had a few half chances early in the second half, but in the 56th minute Lusiama picked the ball up on the right hand side and his cross the box pass found the unmarked Craig Carney who was blatantly taken out by Wyll Stanway in the Macclesfield goal. Lusiama smashed the resulting penalty home to reduce the deficit. As if to confirm their superiority however, the home side only took a couple of minutes to restore their 3 goal advantage, when the mercurial Neil Danns received the ball on the edge of the Colne box, from a mazy James Berry run, and he arrowed an unstoppable drive into the back of the Colne net. Seven minutes from time Lucas Weaver replaced Owen Watkinson up front as the Reds pushed for a second goal. A Craig Carney free kick from the right hand side found Glenn Steel’s head, only to see it agonisingly fall the wrong side of the left hand post, with the keeper beaten. Colne kept going, and two minutes from time, substitute Lucas Weaver was allowed to run across the edge of the Macc penalty area and smash a left footed drive into the bottom left hand side of the goal, to make the final score a more respectable 2-4. Luke Stowe enjoyed a return to the side causing Macclesfield plenty of problems down the left hand channel in the second half and Hoyle and Fagan limited the threat of Berry and Lee to good effect, with Tom Fagan edging the Reds’ man of the match with his robust tackling, determination and encouragement throughout. Due to results elsewhere, a blank weekend points wise, resulted in Colne slipping 3 places into the bottom 4 once again, but the Reds have only to wait until Tuesday evening to try to claw those places back with a positive result at Kidsgrove Athletic.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Matty Kardacz is recovering from a grade 1 MCL knee tear, but will be back in training this week.
Hakan Burton continues his rehabilitation, which could see him return in around 4 weeks. The Colne keeper is now back in full training.
Aaron Turner is awaiting surgery for his knee/MCL issue.
Jack Doherty has now had surgery on his ACL injury and will begin his rehabilitation when ready under the watchful eye of Accrington Stanley. This injury has ruled him out for the season.
Team news - once again Phil Brown is expected to have 18 players to choose from as on Saturday. Hopefully the experience from Macclesfield will have been processed positively, especially for the two young central midfielders - McCann (19) and Henderson (18) - who witnessed at first hand a masterclass from Neil Danns (40) who ran the show. This can only have enhanced their learning and they’ll get more chance to express themselves against the Grove.
Options are available for a cohesive back three and Luke Stowe and Lucas Weaver will be pushing for more action, after their productive second half showing at Moss Rose. Kidsgrove Athletic haven’t won a game since beating Skelmersdale United away at the beginning of December and this will be their fourth home game on the spin, with just the one point collected in a 0-0 draw with local rivals Newcastle Town. A 0-3 loss against Macclesfield was to be expected but a 1-2 defeat on Saturday against a struggling Skelmersdale United side was not. Skem weren’t a threat in the first half as the Grove pressed for an opener, but they came out firing in the second 45 and created the better chances before the game opened up.
On 72 minutes Skem broke and a cross from the right found the unmarked McLaughlin who fired them into the lead. 10 minutes later the dangerous Knapper, who’d come off the bench, thumped in a right foot equaliser from the edge of the United area. With the game heading for a draw and with just 3 minutes left on the clock, Skem won a corner and a quickly taken one two ended with a shot towards goal, which was deflected home by Taylor Prescott from 6 yards out. Despite 7 minutes of injury time the Grove couldn’t find another equaliser.
The Reds on the other hand, have now lost just twice in their last 12 league games, both away, at the top 2 sides in the table. 3 of those games were wins and 7 were draws. Their second half performance on Saturday showed that they can match anyone in the league, if the balance of the side is more natural and their experience exploited. Macclesfield will win the title and next season they will win the NPL Premier league - that’s how good they are - so any game against them is hardly defining.
Realising this, Phil Brown went for the free hit, in a bid to snatch that all important first goal, but Macc’s pace on the break soon put paid to that. There’s nothing of that quality in the Kidsgrove side, so if the young Colne Lions can start how they finished on Saturday, with the shackles off, they are more than capable of picking up their third away win of the campaign and climb away from the bottom four once again.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £10
Concessions : £5
Under 16’s : £2
Under 12’s: Free
The Autonet Stadium
Sat 4th February - Colne v Runcorn Linnets - 15:00 NPL West
Tues 7th February - City of Liverpool v Colne - 19:45 NPL West
Sat 11th February - 1874 Northwich v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Today’s NPL West games - 19:45
Hanley Town v Ramsbottom United
Trafford v Skelmersdale United