Ashton United v North Ferriby United
Evostik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Saturday 24 November 2012 KO 3.00 pm
You would probably have got very long odds before the season on naming Ferriby and Ashton as the top two clubs in the division on the last Saturday in November.
However, League leaders Ferriby take their fifteen game unbeaten league run to second-placed Ashton United on Saturday. The Villagers have won twelve and drawn three of these games. This is Ferriby's best league run since joining the Northern Premier League in 2000.
Ferriby are in the middle of a very testing run of fixtures. The Ashton game is the third of four consecutive games against sides who are currently in the top six in the table. They play third-placed Hednesfoird Town at Ferriby next Saturday. According to Ferriby manager Billy Heath, "This is a monster month for us with games against our closest opponents in the table."
Ferriby have played themselves in to a strong position at the top of the table and they have been helped over the last few days by all of the chasing pack dropping points.
Ashton went down to a 3-0 home defeat to third-bottom Ilkeston on Wednesday and will be eager to come back from that defeat on Saturday. The game at Ashton pits the Division's two top scorers against each other. Ashton Aaron's Burns leads the scoring chart with 16 goals. Ferriby's Ryan Kendall is joint second in the table with 13 goals and has scored more goals in open play than Burns.
Conditions could play a major part on Saturday. With the recent heavy rain, and with more forecast before Saturday, Ashton's pitch is likely to be heavy and may make playing ground football difficult.
Last Saturday's victory at Chorley showed Ferriby's character and attitude. On a difficult surface they played the second half with 10 men following Steve Ridley's red card yet managed to gain a superb victory with a late Liam King goal. Heath commented, "It was a stupendous team performance. The team showed great character and resilience in difficult circumstances."
Gary Bradshaw may have recovered sufficiently from his hamstring injury to return to the squad. Steve Gardner's knee injury will keep him out and skipper Paul foot may play in the Reserves to build-up his match fitness following his recent injury.
Ferriby squad: Adam Nicklin, Antoni Pecora, Sam Belcher, Gregg Anderson, , Dean Lisles, Mark Gray, Nathan Peat, Liam King, Russell Fry, Danny Clarke, Chris Bolder, Ryan Williams, Jack Muldoon, Anthony Wilson Ryan Kendall, Gary Bradshaw, Ben Hunter, Steve Ridley, Tim Taylor