By Andrew Pickup
Trafford v Colne
Northern Premier League West
Home Estates Shawe View Stadium - 19:45
Tuesday 16th August.
Colne’s first away game of the season sees them travel to Flixton, Greater Manchester, to take on Trafford FC.
Trafford’s 11th place finish in last season’s NPL West was respectable, and they’ll be hoping to kick on this campaign. The two clubs met 4 times last season, with the Reds coming out on top with 2 victories and 2 draws. A 1-1 draw in the league in August at Shawe View Stadium, with goals from Burke for the home side and Webb-Foster in reply, was replicated the following week when the two sides met in the FA Cup at the same venue and fought out a 2-2 stalemate.
Two more goals from Webb-Foster were cancelled out by strikes from Hughes and Palmer. The replay at Holt house 3 days later saw the home side sneak through to the next round 2-1, with 2 more goals from Webb-Foster and a consolation from Jack Dorney. A 1-0 home win on a foggy, Saturday afternoon in December at Holt House, proved to be Nathan Rooney’s last win in charge. No prizes for guessing who scored the winner that afternoon. Needless to say, Trafford will be relieved that Reece Webb-Foster won’t be on the Colne team sheet this time around.
Trafford have had a busy pre-season winning 4 times, drawing twice with just the 1 defeat. That loss 0-2 came at home to National League side Altrincham. The 2 draws were a 3-3 thriller at Chadderton followed by a 2-2 stalemate at home to West Didsbury and Chorlton. Home victories over Maine Road 4-0, Bury AFC 2-0 and Spennymoor Town 4-2 bookended a 4-2 win at New Mills.
Like Colne, Trafford were involved in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup, where they hammered AFC Liverpool 6-0, earning themselves a home tie in the next round against Runcorn Linnets.
Trafford (nicknamed the North), carried that form into their first league game, away at league newcomers Skelmesdale United, with a resilient 3-2 victory. Coming from behind twice, they outlasted Skem, scoring the winner through Mike Burke in the last minute.
Trafford players to watch - Tom “the butcher” Bentham, a recent signing from NPL Premier club Ashton United, will need marshalling. He smashed in a hat-trick on his competitive debut in the FA Cup tie with AFC Liverpool, and followed it up on Saturday with a goal on his league debut. Young goalkeeper Conor Robson was snapped up in the summer after being released by Stoke City, and has quickly made the number 1 jersey his own.
Former Red, Matty Morgan (pictured) needs no introduction, after his impressive spells at Holt House. “The North” are managed by Danny Caldecott.
Colne, meanwhile will be hoping to bounce back after an opening day league defeat at home to Kidsgrove Athletic 0-2. The Reds weren’t helped by an over-officious referee, who dismissed Harry Jones, just after the half-hour mark, for what seemed like a well timed tackle. The Reds will need to replicate the performances against 1874 Northwich, 2-1 in the FA Cup, and the friendly win over Halifax 2-1, if they wish to collect their first points of the new season.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Charlie Russell remains on the side lines, but isn’t far away. Back training, he should be back in contention by the end of the month. A clean bill of health for the rest of the squad.
Team selection - Much will depend on availability, with the Reds sorely needing their experienced central defenders back from holiday. Three from Dugdale, Dean, Steel and Winstanley would certainly enhance Phil Brown’s side’s composure and leadership at the back. The unlucky Harry Jones should be once again available, awaiting his suspension, and he will link up with Craig Carney in the middle. Tom McCann will be on stand-by. Expect three from Watkinson, Weaver, Doherty and Stowe in the final third with Mayor and Fagan on the flanks once again. If all the senior defenders are available, another option for the gaffer would be Dugdale or Winstanley on the left, releasing Mayor for another option up front. Ezio de Santis will be chomping at the bit to show the manager what he can do in the opposition half, after a few cameos in the pre-season friendlies, as will Arron Turner.
NPL West fixtures
City Of Liverpool vs Skelmersdale United - 19:45
Clitheroe vs Ramsbottom United - 19:45
Hanley Town vs Newcastle Town - 19:45
Kidsgrove Athletic vs 1874 Northwich - 19:45
Leek Town vs Macclesfield - 19:45
Mossley vs Runcorn Linnets - 19:45
Prescot Cables vs Workington - 19:45
Trafford vs Colne - 19:45
Widnes vs Bootle - 19:45
Witton Albion vs Glossop North End - 19:45
Admission Prices are:
Under 16's £2
Sat nav - M41 5DU