Saturday, 13 December 2014
Burnley 2 Liverpool St Helens 1
Hungaria 2 Audenshaw Dynamo 2
Manchester City 3 Stalybridge Celtic 5
Marlow 2 Blyth Spartans 3
Matlock Town 1 Gainsborough Trinity 2
Mossley 5 Wrexham 3
Northwich Victoria 2 Oxford Excelsior 1Red Star Sunderland 2 Hartlepool United 0
Crewe Alexandra 2 Inter-Italiano 1
Hendon Hotspur 0 Atletico Espanol 1
Manchester Newton Heath 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Marine 3 Bradford City 2
Merthyr Tydfil 2 Crystal Palace 4
Nelson CBR 3 Spartak-Slavia 2
Newcastle Blue Star 2 Newcastle United 2
South Liverpool Red Star 7 Gateshead Dynamo 0
The league season reaches its half-way point and a suitable place at which to enjoy a few weeks’ break to take stock of proceedings thus far, with Stalybridge Celtic extending their lead at the head of the Championship to four points after another Manchester derby goalfest in the form of a thrilling 5-3 victory at City - noteworthier still for being their hosts’ first home reverse of the campaign - following last Saturday’s 6 – 4 win over Audenshaw.
The ‘Bridge find themselves in this healthy position courtesy of a combination of their own fine result(s) and second-placed Liverpool St Helens’ surprise setback at faltering Burnley, whose thoroughly-merited even if last-gasp 2-1 win was a first in 5 matches and only a second in 10, enabling them to climb a place and two further points clear of the relegation berths, raising the Clarets’ spirits just in time for Christmas.
It must be said that Stalybridge’s success has been something of a surprise, as they wouldn’t have been expected to be amongst the frontrunners this season, even allowing for last term’s mid-table consolidation in the top flight, but their consistency has been admirable, confidence instilled by the early win at Gainsborough and blossoming after the remarkable 6- 2 demolition of their hosts at Burnley: even an eventual first defeat of the season at Hartlepool has proved to be the most temporary of blips, being followed by a 15-goal-fuelled salvo of another three straight wins.
Hungaria and Audenshaw did themselves little good with their 2 – 2 draw, keeping them both in the danger zone, although Oxford and Matlock’s defeats ensured they ended the first half as the bottom two, the only bright spot for either so far being the latter’s surprise success at Marlow in the previous round of fixtures, which the reigning champions followed up with another home defeat, this time to Blyth, intensifying what is becoming an increasingly unimpressive, hapless and hopeless defence of their title. Spartans, meanwhile, are themselves on something of a roll and up to fourth with that result, with Gainsborough Trinity also on an upward curve and moving rather ominously into third place, level on points with St Helens.
Of this season’s newcomers, Hartlepool have been solid and are the only team to have beaten Stalybridge so far, although they’ve failed to win in three since, but Northwich’s win over Oxford, following last weekend’s fine victory at Wrexham, has seen the Vics climb to fifth in the table, an impressive introduction to the Championship and a continuation of their upward progress following three successive promotions up the league structure.
In the Second Division, where matters are very close, Crewe’s home win over Inter-Italiano coupled with then-leaders Spartak-Slavia’s reverse at resurgent (four wins in four) Nelson enabled them to exchange places at the top, with also-defeated Sheffield Wednesday, victims of Manchester Newton Heath’s continuing upturn in form and defensive soundness, two points behind in third, one ahead of early pacesetters Marine, who appear to have steadied their previously rocking ship with a second successive home win, and South Liverpool Red Star, who trounced a somewhat less-than-dynamic Gateshead 7 – 0.
Although hardly the ideal result for either struggler, the point apiece gained by Blue Star and United from the Newcastle derby enabled them to climb off the bottom of the table (now fourth- and second-from respectively), to be replaced by Hendon Hotspur, whose two-match winning streak came to an end at home to Atletico Espanol: things remain very tight at the wrong end, though.
More in the new year…
Saturday, 6 December 2014
Blyth Spartans 2 Red Star Sunderland 0
Gainsborough Trinity 2 Mossley 0
Hartlepool United 2 Burnley 2
Liverpool St Helens 7 Hungaria 4
Marlow 0 Matlock Town 1
Oxford Excelsior 2 Manchester City 2
Stalybridge Celtic 6 Audenshaw Dynamo 4Wrexham 1 Northwich Victoria 2
Bradford City 2 South Liverpool Red Star 1
Crystal Palace 1 Nelson CBR 2
Gateshead Dynamo 1 Crewe Alexandra 0
Inter-Italiano 2 Hendon Hotspur 3
Marine 4 Merthyr Tydfil 1
Newcastle United 1 Manchester Newton Heath 2
Sheffield Wednesday 2 Atletico Espanol 1
Spartak-Slavia 4 Newcastle Blue Star 1