Andrew’s Match Preview
Colne v Newcastle Town
Saturday 18th March - 15:00
Colne entertain Stoke on Trent based Newcastle Town at Holt House for an important basement clash in the NPL West.
Newcastle Town, nicknamed “Castle”, were founded in 1964 and play at Red Industries Stadium, which has a capacity of 4,000, and is unusual in that the grass pitch is enclosed by a cycle velodrome. Their average attendance this season is 261. Last season Castle finished 16th in the league table with 40 points, and they did the double over the Reds with an emphatic 5-1 win at home last October, thanks to a James Askey hat-trick and one each from Jack Van Der Laan and Nathan Morley, and a narrow 1-0 victory at Holt House in February, through a goal by Jacob Lovett. In November, Colne won 1-0 in the reverse fixture in Staffordshire thanks to a goal from Lucas Weaver in front of 105 supporters.
This season, Newcastle Town have won 9, drawn 9 and lost 13, and currently occupy 15th position with 36 points from 31 games. Their wins away from home have come at Hanley Town 2-1, Skelmersdale United 3-1, City of Liverpool 2-1, Widnes 3-1 and Bootle 2-1. In the FA Cup, Town won 2-1 at AFC Wulfrunians in the extra preliminary round. They then beat Bedford United 1-0 away in a replay, won 2-0 away at higher league opposition Stafford Rangers, but were then knocked out by North West Counties side Congleton Town 2-3 in another replay. Town lost to NPL Midlands side Spalding United 0-2, at home in the FA Trophy in the first qualifying round. In their last game, last Saturday, Castle were beaten 0-2 at home to leaders Macclesfield. In their last away fixture, they lost 1-3 at Witton Albion despite Ryan Baxter giving them the lead after 15 minutes.
Newcastle Town players to watch - 30 year old skipper and defender James Askey was voted into the Newcastle Town all time X1 at centre-half. He joined the club 11 years ago from Buxton and has scored 5 times this term in 37 appearances. James went in goal last week when keeper Slinn was sent off and performed heroically to keep the scoreline respectable.
Attacker Jacob Lovatt joined from local rivals Kidsgrove Athletic at the beginning of the year, and he was prolific in the first half of the season scoring on 10 occasions in all competitions, including 7 league goals. However, the number 9 has been plagued with injury this calendar year, but he could be ready for a return after making the bench last weekend.
Former Port Vale youngster Joe Slinn is in his 2nd spell at the club after returning from Mickleover in January ‘22. The 23 year old goalkeeper has been the number 1 choice since coming in and has made 36 appearances this term. Joe wasn’t available for the 0-1 loss to Colne back in November due to suspension after being sent off the previous week at City of Liverpool for handling the ball outside the area. Incredibly, he did the same at home to Macclesfield last Saturday so will miss out once again.
Energetic midfielder Jack Van Der Laan was Town’s leading goal scorer last term and he’s weighed in with 5 so far this season. Jack pulls the strings in the middle of the park and is the son of the manager.
Another of the manager’s sons Tommy Van Der Laan is a defensive midfielder and he has 29 appearances so far this season.
23 year old defender Luke Dennis joined the club from Port Vale 5 years ago and has been a regular ever since notching up 36 appearances this campaign.
21 year old central midfielder Ethan Vale has played 20 times for Castle this season and scored on 3 occasions. Ethan came in from Burton Albion 2 years ago, but he has picked up the dreaded ACL injury and will be out for the rest of the year.
Right sided winger/wing back Michael Conlon returned to the club last March after a spell away at Widnes. 23 year old Mike had earlier played for Hanley Town and he’s represented Town 36 times this season.
Oliver Ritchie returned to the club in the summer from Uttoxeter Town. Oli can operate anywhere on the left side and has played 35 times this season scoring twice.
Due to injuries and 1st team shortages, Newcastle recruited 3 players, a month ago, from Shifnal Town who play in the Midland Premier league. Joe Thompson, Luke Walsh and Max Chimenes have been integrated into the side and they have had to hit the ground running as they have made the move up from step 5.
Newcastle Town are managed by former Premier league player Robin Van Der Laan. Robin has been the gaffer for Town since 2018, and as well as playing for Derby County, he also turned out for Port Vale, Wolves and Barnsley in the EFL. Robin has recently announced that he is stepping down as first team manager at the end of the season, but continuing at the club in a directorship role.
Last time out for the Reds - Colne travelled to West Lancashire a week last Saturday to take on 9th placed Skelmersdale United. Phil Brown named an unchanged side from the one who lost narrowly at Witton the previous week, with Lucas Weaver and Cuan Bradley returning to the squad. Craig Carney showed his intent early on forcing a good stop from Joel Torrance in the Skem goal, but it was the home side who took the lead on 12 minutes. Tom Freeman’s work on the left released Danny O’Brien whose shot was parried by Hakan Burton in the Colne nets only for Finnan Crofton to put in the rebound. Midfielder Alex Doyle was the next to be denied by Torrence as the game ebbed and flowed. Danger man Elliot Morris was getting into top gear on the left hand side and his 20 yard free kick beat Burton but not the cross bar. Luke Stowe lost out in a one on one with Torrance, but a series of corners brought about the equaliser. Pressure from Colne forward Owen Watkinson forced young centre half Harry Hagan to put the ball into his own net to make it 1-1. That lead only lasted 4 minutes when after seeing a header tipped away by Burton, Morris strolled in from the left and finished superbly to put the Bluebirds back in front. The second half was all about Joel Torrence who, on loan from Salford City was debuting in goal for Skem. He, single handedly kept out the Reds from a deserved equaliser time and time again. Lucas Weaver joined the fray 15 minutes from time and he, Carney, and in particular Stowe were all denied more than once by the young stopper, as the home side hung on for an undeserved 3 points. Craig Carney’s efforts, influence and through balls earned him Colne’s man of the match. The loss left the Reds in 16th place with 31 points from 30 games. Due to last weekend’s postponement at home to Workington, and Widnes taking advantage by beating City of Liverpool, Colne dropped down to 17th place into a relegation play-off spot.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Jack Doherty is recovering from 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 - Glenn Steel will miss out due to work commitments with Matty Kardacz the favourite to drop back into the centre of defence. Jake Forshaw is also unavailable, so Lucas Weaver is likely to start up front with Owen Watkinson. Tom McCann has recovered from concussion and is available for selection. Jacob Bridges should return to the squad.
Newcastle Town arrive at Holt House with a 5 point advantage over the Reds having played a game more. They were beaten comfortably at Witton Albion 1-3 in their last away game and lost at home to Macclesfield last weekend 0-2. Injuries, departures and suspensions are clearly taking their toll on their faltering league position. They battled well last week against the Champions elect despite losing their keeper to a sending off after just 25 minutes. They’ve only scored 5 in their last 7 games - winning 2 and losing 5 - so they’ll be hoping leading scorer Jacob Lovatt can play some part. 18 year old keeper Alfie Roberts has been drafted in from Derby County to cover for the suspended Slinn.
Colne’s last 7 have seen them win 2, draw 1 and lose 4. Only 2 of those games were home fixtures which they won, 1-0 against Runcorn Linnets and 3-0 against Glossop North End. In fact the Reds haven’t lost at Holt House since last October. There probably isn’t a better time to play Castle and with the Reds sitting 4th from bottom with only 8 games remaining, it’s a must win for Phil Brown’s young Lions. The Reds have only won twice away from home this season, one of which was away at Newcastle Town. So with that victory in mind and a repeat of the performance in their last home game against Glossop, Colne can collect the 3 points, climb out of the last 4, and drag the visitors back into the bottom of the table scrap.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £9
Concessions : £6
13-16 - £1
Under 12's: Free
Colne Football Club
Sat 25th March - Bootle v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Tues 28th March - Colne v Workington - 19:45 NPL West
Sat 1st April - Colne v Ramsbottom United - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 8th April - Colne v Widnes - 15:00 NPL West
Today’s other NPL West games - 15:00
City of Liverpool v Workington
Clitheroe v Prescot Cables
Glossop North End v 1874 Northwich
Hanley Town v Bootle
Kidsgrove Athletic v Ramsbottom United
Macclesfield v Runcorn Linnets
Mossley v Skelmersdale United
Witton Albion v Trafford