Blog Archives

National League Promotion Predictions 2016-17

Is it really that time of year again? The new season is less than two weeks away, and managers are adding the final touches to their squads ahead of their respective promotion/relegation/mid table mediocrity campaigns. And with a new season comes a new set of predictions! Read the rest of this entry

Non League Finals Day Promises To Be A Festival Of Football!

This Sunday’s double header at Wembley Stadium looks set to be a fantastic day of football, with tens of thousands of tickets sold. Will this be the first of a new tradition for the Vase and Trophy Finals, or is it a last desperate attempt to justify the finals taking place at the home of English football? Read the rest of this entry

Free Parkin: Forest Green Dominate in Halifax

My latest Matchday Adventure saw me venture into West Yorkshire, and to The Shay in particular. Read the rest of this entry

Lee Gregory – The Next Non-League Star To Turn Pro?

FC Halifax Town hotshot Lee Gregory is the latest non-league player rumoured to be garnering huge interest from Football League clubs. The twenty five year old has struck 26 goals in his first season in the Conference Premier, and it looks like he will ply his trade in the professional game next season, even if The Shaymen miss out on promotion.

Gregory’s goals have helped propel Halifax back into non-league’s top flight, and the step up in division has done nothing to curb his goalscoring prowess. His brace against Alfreton Town in a televised BT Sport game took him level with another coveted Conference Striker; Luton Town’s Andre Gray at the top of the scoring charts. In fact, he has scored more goals this campaign than he did in either of his previous two seasons in Conference North (22 and 20).

A familiar sight for Halifax fans; Gregory celebrates another goal

A familiar sight for Halifax fans; Gregory celebrates another goal

The best thing about Gregory is that he seems to be a complete striker. Strong and skilful, he can score any type of goal. His double against Alfreton epitomised that; his first a wonderful curling finish with very little backlift, and his second a tap-in inside the six yard box. It really comes as no surprise that so many professional clubs are looking into securing his signature for 2014-15.

I myself have seen Gregory play once in the flesh, and he was on fire that day, scoring four in a thumping 5-0 win against Gloucester City last season, including a first half hattrick. Blackburn Rovers have been heavily linked with a move, while Notts County are also among his admirers. Crawley Town were reportedly close to signing Gregory on the final day of the winter transfer window, but had three offers turned down by FC Halifax. Gregory – an electrician by day – even took January 31st off work in case an offer was accepted and he needed to go to a medical.

One thing is certain this summer. FC Halifax are going to have to brace themselves for a barrage of interest, and no shortage of offers for their prize asset. Can they hold on to him? If they manage to gain promotion through the playoffs, they’d have a chance in my opinion. If they don’t, they will probably have to cash in on a prolific striker who will only have a year left on his contract.

Stoppage Time Drama At Deva

FC Halifax made the trip across the Pennines to take on Chester FC in a battle of relatively new clubs. Both have had their trials and tribulations in recent times, with both clubs now in a new guise after their previous entities went belly up. Happily, though, both The Blues and The Shaymen have enjoyed upward trajectories since reforming, but right now the club from West Yorkshire are enjoying better fortunes than their Cheshire hosts. Prior to kick off, Neil Aspin’s men were two points outside the playoffs, whilst Steve Burr’s side occupied the final relegation place, albeit only on goal difference.  Going into the match, Chester had won just twice at Deva Stadium, while Halifax have won just once on their travels.

The first half began with Halifax goalkeeper Matt Glennon producing a fine save to deny a combination of John Rooney and ex-Shayman Gareth Seddon, tipping away their hooked effort. Glennon was in action again, getting down bravely to claim a fierce free kick as Ross Killock tried to connect with the ball. The wind was making life difficult for both teams, but Halifax left back Marc Roberts showed signs that his long throw might be a useful weapon in the conditions. His first throw of the game landed on the head of Simon Ainge, but the defender’s header went straight to Chester ‘keeper Aaron Chapman.

Josh Wilson was harshly red carded

Josh Wilson was harshly red carded

The Shaymen were seemingly not at the races for much of the first half, but they did create a great chance when Josh Wilson played an inviting ball across the penalty area. The ball took an horrific bobble, however, and Ryan Crowther could only touch the ball wide. Wilson was ridiculously red carded five minutes before half time for what the referee can only have adjudged to have been a stamping motion, although it was barely even a bookable offence.

The final notable action of the half came at the Halifax end, as Craig Mahon whipped a ball into the box. Matt Glennon did well to keep his eyes on the ball as nobody got a touch, allowing him to parry the ball away. It was scrambled away, only to be returned onto the head of Matty Taylor. His effort came back off the frame of the goal, but it wouldn’t have counted anyway as he was – wrongly – flagged offside. Half time: Chester FC 0 FC Halifax Town 0

The home side started the second half on the attack once more, with John Rooney dragging a shot wide after a lovely piece of control plucked a high ball out of the air. Rooney was involved ten minutes into the half, as he played a part in the opening goal. He passed the ball out to Lewis Turner on the right, and his superb cross was turned in by Craig Mahon. It was no more than Chester deserved, and Mahon showed great movement to get into a scoring position.

Halifax did improve, and a wind assisted freekick from Ryan Crowther forced Chapman into a smart save. Chapman then had to claw the resulting corner away from under his crossbar. Minutes later, Crowther outmuscled Turner and cut inside, but his shot was wayward. Steve Burr was then forced to replace Chapman, as the keeper injured his hand when trying to claim a high ball. Usual number one John Danby came on in his place.

Chester's match winner Jamie Menagh

Chester’s match winner Jamie Menagh

Just as it looked like the home side were going to get all three points, we moved into five minutes stoppage time. Marc Roberts made a throw count, as his delivery caused panic. The ball was cleared, but it hit Jamie Menagh and fell kindly for James Bolton. He thumped a volley into the corner of the net, seemingly rescuing a slightly undeserved point for Neil Aspin. However, just sixty seven seconds later, Menagh became the hero. John Rooney tried a through ball which rebounded off Bolton. As the ball rolled into the six yard box, defender and keeper left it to each other, and Menagh stole in and clipped the ball home to restore the advantage, and ultimately claim the win.

Halifax’s woeful away form continues, whilst Burr registers his third win from six games in charge of Chester FC. The win lifts his team up two places to nineteenth in the Conference Premier table, while Halifax could drop to tenth over the weekend.

FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round

The draw for the Third Qualifying Round of this season’s FA Trophy has now been made. This is the round where clubs from the Conference North and South enter proceedings, and I thought I would pick out some highlights.

Firstly, my club, Hampton & Richmond Borough, have been drawn at home against Canvey Island, who currently sit tenth in the Ryman Premier League. It’s a good draw for The Beavers, a home tie and a good chance of progressing into the first round proper, where the Conference Premier clubs await.

Elsewhere, and Under The League’s James Griffiths still has an interest in the competition. His beloved Matlock Town will have a plum home tie with Hyde, who are flying high in the Conference North. Matlock do, however, have the small matter of a home replay with divisional rivals Hednesford Town to contest first, after the first match ended goalless.

FC United Of Manchester could set up a local derby with Altrincham, if they can overcome Durham in a replay. Redbridge FC will face East Thurrock United in an Essex derby, and there could be another one if AFC Hornchurch can get past Harrow Borough in a replay. The winners will travel to Thurrock FC, who sit bottom of the Conference South table.

Meanwhile, the draw has thrown up a “top v bottom” clash between Conference North leaders Stalybridge Celtic and Blyth Spartans, who sit bottom at the time of the draw. Spartans will be at home for the match though, which could have an impact on the result. Conference South leaders Woking, meanwhile, face a very tricky looking trip to Chelmsford City, who are chasing a playoff place in the same division.

Gosport Borough have been garnering a lot of attention lately, due to the fact that they boast Steve Claridge in their ranks, and they will face a very tough trip to Conference South side Dorchester Town in the next round. They will need every ounce of Claridge’s vast experience to get through the tie. FC Halifax Town, who face Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup in their biggest ever game this weekend, have an away day against fellow Conference North side Colwyn Bay in the Trophy.

The games will be played the weekend of November 26th, and the full draw can be found here

The FA Cup First Round Preview

Sunday was a day of expectation for many non-league fans; well it was for those whose teams who had made into the hat for the first round proper of the FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser.

On the whole it has to be admitted that a bit of a boring draw with only one or two tasty ties for Non-league fans to get their teeth into.

The game I have been talking about is that of FC Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic. The game has been put back to Sunday at 12:30pm for ITV and quite rightly so it should get massive coverage. FC Halifax are a former Football League club and their last couple of seasons on their quest to get back into the Football League have been quite remarkable: two successive promotions through the Evo-stik Northern premier division and they are back in the Blue Square North. While Charlton have been in this stage before- the former Premier League club were on Television against Northwhich Victoria two seasons ago and a trip Victoria Park saw the Addicks being knocked out one-nil. I can see the Shayman progressing to the second round.

The second tie I am looking forward to see the outcome of is Nantwich’s trip to MK Dons. The Cheshire side beat Nuneaton Town on Saturday at the Weaver Stadium 1-0 and despite their cup run sit 10th in the Evo-stik Premier and should not fear the Dons, even though they currently sit fifth in the League One table (at the time of writing). But unfortunately it will be the dons who will progress into the second round.

It will make it an added incentive for both Mansfield Town and Fleetwood Town to try and win the replay for the right to entertain Wycombe Wanderers at their home ground. Both look on good form; The Cod sit second in the Blue Square Premier with Mansfield just outside the play off zone.  The Wanderers aren’t doing well at the present time and sit one from bottom in League One, though they will be looking for a good cup run to ease the woes. But somehow I think that who ever gets through the replay will be the winners in this game.

The last game I want to look at as a possible tie of the round is Luton v Northampton Town. The Hatters have been known in the FA Cup over the last few years thanks to their performance a few years ago against Liverpool in the third round and at one stage were leading 2-1 before succumbing to a 5-2 lose, but the way they played captured many hearts and will be hoping for another cup run as such. Northampton currently sit 18th in league two and are only eight points off the foot of the league. So  an interesting game will be in store at Kenilworth Road and I am going for a Luton win.

So there are four games whose results I am going to look out for. The full draw can be found on the FA website http://www.thefa.com/TheFACup/FACompetitions/TheFACup/Fixtures

Good luck to all non-leagues teams and hope we can have many progressing into the next round.

TV Cup Ties Announced

The Football Association have released details of the three FA Cup First Round games that will be shown live on television, which will include two non-league clubs. Conference North side FC Halifax Town got a double reward for reaching the first round, as their plum home tie with League One leaders Charlton Athletic will be the second of the games shown on TV, while Conference Premier side Newport County’s home game with League Two side Shrewsbury Town will kick off the weekend’s live coverage.

The full details of the televised games are as follows:

Saturday, November 12th, kick off 12:30pm – Newport County v Shrewsbury Town, ESPN

Sunday, November 13th, kick off 12:30pm – FC Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic, ITV1

Sunday November 13th, kick off 3:15pm – Morecambe v Sheffield Wednesday, ESPN

The live games represent a welcome windfall for the clubs involved. They will each receive £67,500 from the TV coverage, with the winner of each tie also receiving £18,500 from the competition’s prize fund.