NFU v Stalybridge Celtic (NLN)

Vanarama National League North
NFU  v Stalybridge Celtic  

Saturday 12 March 2016
 Kick-off 3.00 pm

Fourth-placed Ferriby entertain Stalybridge Celtic at the Eon Visual Media Stadium on Saturday.  This will be the third meeting between the sides this season but the first in the league. The previous two games were in the FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying and both ended in draws. Ferriby were denied a win in the first game at Stalybridge by an equaliser deep in to added time. The replay saw The Villagers go out in a penalty shoot-out.

Stalybridge are in 15th place in the Vanarama National League but are only four points above the drop zone. They will, obviously, be looking for three points on Saturday. Their game last Saturday was postponed which may have given them a welcome rest.

 Stalybridge have one of the worst defensive records in the division having conceded 59. Conversely, they have a good scoring record with 48 goals which is the third-best scoring record outside the top six clubs.. Despite conceding so many goals, the two cup ties between the Ferriby and Stalybridge showed that Celtic can be difficult to break-down in defence.

Ferriby go in to the game on the back of a comfortable 4-1 win at struggling Corby Town last Saturday. The Villagers were two up in five minutes and dominated the game. They displayed their clinical finishing  that had largely deserted them in the previous six games. Nathan Hotte gave a man-of-the-match performance in midfield. Skipper Liam King said the win was dedicated to Steve and Eman Forster,

“Our thoughts are obviously with them and their family as Steve begins his recovery from neuro-surgery. They have done so much for the club and this is a tiny way for the players to say thank you.”

Although the club is up for sale due to Steve Forster’s illness and the predicted long recovery time, Manager Billy Heath will be urging his team to focus on each game as it comes.

He commented,
“We owe a lot to Steve and Eman and if we can continue to perform well, and even gain promotion, that will be a small way of thanking them. At the end of the day, football results are nothing compared to Steve’s health.

The promotion race has become a seven-horse race now as Tamworth are now just three points off fifth spot. Solihull still lead, nine  points  ahead  of Harrogate. Fylde are third, level on points with Harrogate. Midweek results saw Ferriby drop to fourth, two points behind Fylde with  Nuneaton in  fifth place level on 55 points , the same as sixth placed Boston.

 Manager Billy Heath comments,

“It was a good performance at Corby last Saturday. We played well as a team and deservedly won. It was always likely to be a tricky game against a side that id facing relegation. However, we did what we had to do and never really let them in to the game.

“We need to produce a similar performance against Stalybridge on Saturday. The FA Cup games have shown that they will be difficult to break down despite their league position.

“It’s going to be a testing few weeks to the end of the season and every game is going to be important. As usual, we will concentrate on our own performances. It may not always be pretty football as most of our games are against either promotion rivals or teams in the relegation battle. It’s all about winning now.”

Hopefully, Heath should have a full squad to choose from on Tuesday. Danny Clarke travelled with the team to Corby but was a late withdrawal from the side due to him taking ill before the game. Josh Wilde was substituted with a leg injury in the closing minutes but he ought to be fit.

NFU squad: Adam Nicklin, Ben Middleton, Sam Topliss, Josh Wilde, Ash Palmer, Mark Gray, Danny Hone, Liam King, Russ Fry, Adam Bolder, Danny Clarke, Danny Emerton, Ryan Kendall, Curtis Bateson, Nathan Hotte, Tom Denton, Wayne Brooksby

The sale of the club will give rise to all kinds of speculation and rumour as to possible buyers. The club will not be issuing any statements on this issue until there is something substantial to say. For now, it is business as usual.

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