March 28, 2011
Goal ace Mike Norton proved his value to FC United once again as his double strike sank Evo-Stik Premier promotion rivals North Ferriby.
The former Curzon Ashton star took his season’s tally to 27 with a pair of typically smart finishes to earn Karl Marginson’s men a home 2-0 victory which stretches their unbeaten run to 13 matches and leaves them fifth in the table.
The visitors came closest to taking the lead when Wayne Brooksby fired against the crossbar before Norton rewarded FC’s sustained pressure by heading in from a Carlos Roca corner on 66 minutes.
The United captain then sealed the points, slotting in from close range after Ferriby keeper Steve Wilson had blocked a Jerome Wright shot.
Meanwhile, relegation-threatened Ashton United warmed up for their Manchester Premier Cup final with holders Droylsden at Hyde’s Ewen Fields ground tonight (7.30pm) with a 23rd-minute Liam Dawson strike giving them a welcome 1-0 home win over Retford.
But Andy Preece’s Northwich can surely kiss goodbye to thoughts of promotion after tumbling 1-0 to ailing visitors Ossett Town.
Chorley maintained their slim hopes of pipping long-time leaders Chester to the Evo-Stik North title with Steve Foster, Dale Whitham and Matt Jansen on target as they sank Cammell Laird 3-0.
Curzon Ashton remain on course for their fourth successive appearance in the play-offs despite being held 2-2 by Bamber Bridge at the Tameside Stadium.
Salford City pushed neighbours Leigh Genesis ever closer to relegation by beating them 2-0, while Radcliffe dented Warrington’s play-off hopes with a 2-1 win.
Woodley drew 2-2 at Prescot Cables, but Trafford, Mossley and Witton all lost.
:: Altrincham boss Ken McKenna saluted veteran keeper Stuart Coburn after his heroics inspired the Moss Lane relegation battlers to a hugely impressive and much needed win at FA Trophy finalists Darlington.
Robins stalwart Coburn pulled off a string of fine saves to keep the Wembley-bound Quakers at bay as Alty grimly withstood all that Darlington could throw at them.
With the game seemingly heading for stalemate, Altrincham snatched their third successive Blue Square Bet Premier victory when Damian Reeves headed in to break the deadlock three minutes from time.
Said McKenna: “Stuart did absolutely brilliantly, making good saves at crucial times for us.
“But credit to all the boys for sticking to our game plan to soak up pressure and then hit Darlington on the break.
“We would have been happy with a draw, so to come home with a win is a bonus.
“We still need a decent points return from our seven remaining games, but beating a team such as Darlington on their own patch following back-to-back home victories over Forest Green and Tamworth can only breed confidence.”
Coburn offered a taste of what was to come with a smart stop from Marc Bridge-Wilkinson in the opening minutes.
Among those he later denied was former Alty favourite Chris Senior.
Altrincham’s livewire midfielder Steve Connors twice went close as McKenna’s men sensed an upset.
And, after Reeves had also posted a warning to Darlo by sidefooting narrowly wide, he then made no mistake by nodding in a Nicky Clee cross.
There was still time for Darlington to miss another chance, sub John Campbell lobbing over, but the Robins held on for a win which means they’re sure to climb out of the drop zone for the first time since August providing they avoid defeat to visiting Southport in tomorrow night’s relegation scrap.
Meanwhile, patched-up Hyde were given a big pat on the back by manager Neil Tolson after hauling themselves out of the Blue Square Bet North relegation zone with a plucky goalless draw at second-placed Alfreton.
The injury-hit Tigers defended doggedly and would have pinched an unlikely victory had Kevin Holsgrove not shot wide with only keeper Chris MacKenzie to beat four minutes into stoppage time.
Tolson said: “I couldn’t have asked for anything more from the lads. We’ve only got a squad of 17 and had four out.
“A draw at Alfreton at any time would be good, but, under the circumstances, this was a terrific point for us against the best team in the league.”
Stalybridge Celtic were unable to stop leaders AFC Telford cashing in on Alfreton’s failure to beat Hyde as they had their unbeaten eight-game run halted by the Shropshire title hopefuls – a result which takes the Bucks three points clear at the summit.
But Bridge’s 21-goal top scorer Phil Marsh forced Telford’s Ryan Young into a stunning save before Andy Brown headed what proved to be the only goal of an uninspiring contest a minute before the interval.
Stalybridge poured forward in the closing stages but were unable to carve out a clear chance to equalise as the home side stood firm for a vital triumph.
Vodkat League champions-elect New Mills marched 11 points clear at the top with Chris Hirst and Carlos Meakin scoring in their 2-0 home win over Formby.