Agony for Baguley in the Manchester Amateur Cup

Baguley Athletic bowed out of the Manchester Amateur Cup after agonisingly losing their semi-final with Middleton on penalties.

The L & C outfit, enjoying their first season in the league, fell two goals behind early on as Middleton flew out of the traps.

But Baguley upped their game with a neat finish from Lee Hendley reducing the arrears before the break.

Their predatory Argentinian striker Paulo Ortiz had a typically clinical finish to take the game into a penalty shoot-out.

But it was not to be as Middleton held their nerve to win the shoot-out by 9-8 to deny Baguley a final against fellow L & C team Eccles United.

There was plenty of domestic cup action with three of the top teams making their way into the next round of the Rhodes Cup, featuring teams from the L & C’s top two divisions.

Manchester Challenge Cup finalists Abacus Media were in a tight contest with Division One champions Chadderton Cott and led with an early strike from Luke Perkin.

Cott showed intent to level before the break but Abacus dominated the second half to ease into the next round by 3-1.

Shaw Athletic also did Division One proud as they held Premier title contenders De La Salle to 1-1 at half-time but it was not enough to prevent a 3-2 win for De La Salle.

Rochdalians also took on another top team in Division One Signol Athletic but showed their enduring class with a comfortable 3-0 win.

The Wray Cup for teams in divisions two and three had plenty of goals, led by high-flying Hattersley who beat South Manchester 10-2 and not far behind were Stretford Paddock reserves with a 6-1 cruise over Woohouses.

Irlam Tiger Rangers were also on song as they won 5-2 at Newton.

There was plenty of action in the Whitehead Cup, contested by Division A and B teams, which featured a thriller at Milton Reserves as they ended normal time level at 5-5 against Moston Brook reserves who led 4-2 at half-time.

The penalty shoot out was equally dramatic as Milton won 8-7.

It was also close in a local derby at Aldermere reserves as they took on Old Stretfordians reserves.

This also ended deadlocked at 2-2 with Strets edging the shoo-out 4-3 to deny Aldermere a league and cup double.
The other three ties were also very tight and Flixton JFC saw visitors Kartel SC win 2-1, AFC Oldham reserves scored the only goal of their game at Greater Manchester reserves and Hillgate won their local derby against Spurley Hey by 2-1.

There were four games in the Hellawell Shield for teams in divisions C and D which saw straightforward wins for Bury Ams reserves by 5-0 at AFC Oldham fourths, Eccles United reserves by 3-0 at Didsbury reserves and Village Manchester reserves who registered a 2-0 win over Urmston Town Vale.

But it needed another penalty shootout at AFC Stockport Warriors after a 2-2 stalemate with Mellor Development who prevailed 5-4 on penalties.

Limited league action meant no games in the Premier division and just two in Division One which featured a relegation battle between Trafford United and Didsbury.

In a game played in excellent spirit Didsbury looked home and dry as a hat-trick from Jonny Todd took them into a comfortable 3-1 lead with 15 minutes to go but in the end they had to hang on to win 4-3 as United came back with a strong finish.

The other game saw Bury Ams pick up some useful points in a 2-0 win at Old Stretfordians.

In Division Two, Wythenshawe Wanderers closed the big lead on Hattersley to eight points with an emphatic 5-1 victory at Mellor.

Just two games in Division Three which did not affect the title race. There were comfortable wins for Elton Lib Hargreaves by 7-0 over Aldermere and Radclyffe by 3-0 over Stoconians.

Busier in Division A with four games played and Santos continued their recent good run of form with their best win of the season by 9-1 over Greater Manchester FC.

On target with doubles for Santos were Liam Churchill, David Clegg and Ben Marshall backed by singles from Tom Barnes, Danny Brierley and Tristan Campbell.

Also in comfort zone were Salford Storm who sauntered to a 4-0 win at AFC Oldham reserves, Trafford United reserves who hammered Milnrow Firgrovia 7-1 and Salford Vics reserves who strolled to a 6-0 triumph over Woodsend Athletic.

In Division B Heaton Mersey tightened their grip on second spot with a 3-1 win at Parrs Wood Celtic and Moston Brook thirds beat Oldham Saints 4-1.

Dukinfield Athletic stay firmly in charge of Division C after a 5-1 win at Chadderton Park reserves and near neighbours Staly Lions won 3-1 at Altrincham Hale.

The solitary Division D game saw Mellor Development edge a five-goal thriller against Salford Vics Development.

Eccles United edge pulsating Manchester Amateur Cup semi-final

Eccles United have the Manchester Amateur Cup final to look forward to after a breathless win over L & C rivals Irlam Tigers.

Tigers were given an early gift with a misunderstanding between Sean Eckersley and keeper Jordan Hamilton presented a soft own goal.

Eckersley netted for United to redeem that error, but Tigers were leading 2-1 going into the final minute of the contest, before they were dramatically pegged back through a Martin Booth strike to set up a penalty shootout.

Then United keeper Hamilton proved to be the hero with three super saves to see his team through 7-6.

They will face the winners of Baguley Athletic of AFC Middleton who play the other semi this coming Saturday.

Abacus Media were also in cup action as they faced high-flying Cheshire League team Egerton FC (Knutsford) in the Manchester Challenge Trophy final at Hyde United.

Abacus did the club and league proud with a great effort as Egerton were made to work very hard for a 2-0 win.

Back in league action there was a top game at Flixton FC between two Premier Division title hunters in Stretford Paddock and Moston Brook, watched by a good crowd of spectators.

Brook showed their intent to go 2-0 up inside six minutes and maintained their momentum in an excellent match to win 3-1.

The win takes them two points clear at the top from Paddock and the ever-dangerous De La Salle who beat Milton 3-1 and have a game in hand over Brook.

Rochdalians had a big win over struggling AFC Oldham and another good close game saw Salford Vics beat Manchester Polonia 2-1.

Just two games played in Division One and they were both tight contests with Shaw Athletic winning by the odd goal in nine hosting Bury Ams.

Old Stretfordians showed great battling spirit as they hosted champions Chadderton Cott with injury reducing them to play with ten men for the last hour of the game.

It was goalless at the break then on a rare attack Strets took the lead with a neat finish from Ryan Stewart and although Cott came back to level, Strets hung on for a deserved point inspired by skipper Dean Malone.

Division Two’s top team Hattersley still lead by ten points but dropped two as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Stretford Paddock reserves.

Non-playing Irlam Tiger Rangers can still overhaul Hattersley as they have a massive five games in hand.

There were thrills galore at Sale Amateurs as they hosted their jinx rivals Bedians who are looking to pull away from the relegation zone.

It looked to be plain sailing for Sale as they romped in to a 2-0 lead with stunning strikes from Aaron Bentley with a thunderbolt and Kazim Waite-Jackson with a cute back heel.

But Bedians turned the game on its head in the last two minutes of the first half with goals from Matt Greenhalgh and super sub Julian Patterson with his first touch making it 2-2 at the break.

Sale upped the ante after the break but were denied by some great defending, near misses and fantastic goalkeeping from Ben Feridooni.

At the other end Bedians showed their clinical side as they netted twice from limited chances through Chris Lambourne and Julian Patterson to win 4-2 and move two places up from the foot of the table.

In Division Three, leaders Chadderton Park stay well clear at the top after a gritty 2-1 derby win over Radcylffe FC.

Village Manchester stay 11 points behind with three games in hand after an efficient 3-1 victory over Hooley Bridge.

The other mid-table tussle at Elton Lib Hargreaves saw them share two goals with Salford Albion.

North Walkden reserves showed their Division A title intent with a big 7-0 win over chasing Kartel Sports to move three points clear of non-playing Woodsend Athletic, who have two games in hand over the leaders and Kartel have five games in hand.

Santos are on a roll and they kept a second clean sheet with a comfortable 4-0 win over Trafford United reserves.

Mike Leslie had Santos 1-0 to the good at the break and second-half strikes from Ben Winterbottom, Ciaran Finegan and Tim Gallagher kept up the good run of form.

The other games saw Salford Storm win their local derby with Salford Vics reserves 3-1 a score matched by Milton reserves over Stretford Paddock Development and Moston Brook reserves shared six goals in an entertaining match with Greater Manchester FC.

Aldermere Reserves moved to within a point of clinching the Division B title after beating Oldham Saints 5-0.

Their nearest rivals are Heaton Mersey who kept up their good run with a comfortable 4-2 victory over Old Strets seconds and the other game in the division had Moston Brook thirds in good defensive form in a 2-0 win against Parrs Wood Celtic.

Dukinfield Athletic are still comfortably leading Division C despite being held to a 1-1 draw at Altrincham Hale.

Mellor reserves closed the gap by two points with an efficient local derby 2-0 win over Govan Athletic Development and Staly Lions jumped into third place over non-playing Urmston Town Vale beating Stoconians reserves 3-1.

Just one game beat the weather in Division D with Mellor Development climbing out of the bottom two with a 5-2 win over a gutsy Didsbury reserves.

Storms wreak havoc on busy programme

THE effects of Storms Dudley and Eunice saw games on grass totally postponed and even one on 3G for the top Rhodes Cup tie between Abacus Media v Chadderton Cott called off due to snow.

There were plenty of goals in the games played on artificial surfaces with De La Salle Reds keeping up their scintillating league form in the Rhodes Cup as they demolished Manchester Polonia 11-0.

Premier Division leaders Stretford Paddock were not far behind winning 9-1 in their local derby with Old Stretfordians.

There was little between the team in the first 30 minutes with both keepers pulling off some excellent saves.

Paddock broke the deadlock on 22 minutes with a neat finish from Steve Watkins and opened the floodgates in the second half to cruise into the next round.

In the Wray Cup, the competition for teams in divisions two and three, there was plenty of drama and goals as Baguley Athletic switched their home tie to the superb surface at Trinity High School – the home ground of opponents Village Manchester.

A close first half saw Baguley enjoy a slender 2-1 lead thanks to a double from Paulo Ortiz.

Then after the break Ortiz, an experienced Argentinian striker, was unstoppable as his clinical skill saw him add four more to set what may be a record for an L & C player, scoring six times in a row in any cup or league match since the league began over 110 years ago.

Baguley substitute Ramone Williams came off the bench to break the Ortiz hot streak as he made it 7-1 and Village completed the scoring with a well deserved second consolation in the dying minutes.

Joining Baguley in the next round are Mellor who had a comfortable 5-1 win over Salford Albion and Elton Lib Hargreaves who won by the odd goal in five against Bedians.

In the Whitehead Cup, comprising of teams in divisions A and B, Kartel showed their intent with a fine 8-0 win at Moston Brook thirds.

Also going through are Stretford Paddock Development who won 4-0 at Woodsend Athletic.

There was just one game completed in the Hellawell Shield, contested by teams in divisions C and D, and it brought a hard-earned 5-3 win for Bury Ams thirds at Mellor Development.

Fixtures secretary Malc Kershaw now has plenty of cup games to fit into the busy league programme in the coming weeks.

There were two games played in the Premier Division, including a big win for Moston Brook at AFC Oldham which saw them move to within a point of leaders Stretford Paddock with both teams on level games played.

Salford Vics moved into the comfort of mid-table with an efficient 4-1 win hosting Milton.

Just one game played in Division One and it saw Trafford United continue their improved form as they gained a vital point in a 3-3 draw at Hadfield United to lift themselves from the foot of the table.

There was no league action in divisions two, three and A but in Division B, Heaton Mersey were on fire with an 8-1 win at Oldham Saints which featured hat-tricks from Graham Phillips and Dominic Ali plus a single strike from Tshepo Reynolds and a Saints own goal.

The league action was concluded in Division C where a 5-2 win for Staly Lions hosting second-placed Mellor reserves saw them move up into third spot.

Teams and clubs in the L & C and other local leagues can support a very worthy cause by entering a Six-A-Side Tournament to be held in Manchester on June 25.

The tournament is supporting the MS Therapy Centre North West and involved in the organisation is former Chorltonians top official Tony McNicholls.

Early entry of a squad of up to ten players is advised to secure a place in the tournament and to get further detail the contacts are either 0161 872 9444 or fundraising@mstherapynw.org.

League teams progress to County Cup semi-final

L & C teams continued to enjoy success in the cup competitions after three sides made it through to the Manchester Amateur Cup semi-finals, meaning at least one team is assured a place in the final. It follows on from Abacus Media’s success in the Manchester Challenge Cup, who play Egerton FC in the final on February 25.

Baguley Athletic, who have impressed in Division Two in their debut L & C season, are one of the final quartet in the Manchester Amateur Cup after battling through tough conditions against a tricky AFC Droylsden outfit.

But they imposed their fighting spirit and passing game on the contest to eventually run out 5-3 winners.

Droylsden have a 100% record in their league and a GD of +51 and also beat a team from the L & C on pens in the last round, so Baguley were under no illusions about the test that faced them.

There was a hat trick for Guy Eastwood – the third goal, a sumptuous chip, was the pick of the bunch.

Argentine forward Paolo Ortiz also took advantage of the keeper being off his line with a chip from distance.

Athletic missed a pen when they were 2-1 up and Ben Boyne scored the final goal after a cross from Ramone Williams.

Elsewhere, Irlam Tigers had two of their teams in the other quarter-finals and their first team pulled off a great win scoring the only goal of the game at Division One champions Chadderton Cott.

But their A team found division two high-flyers Eccles United too hot to handle as United cruised to a comfortable 4-1 win.

The only team standing in the way of the L & C teams are AFC Middleton in the semi-finals on February 26.

More poor weather caused a number of league games to be postponed but the Premier Division had plenty of action.

The three-horse race for the title continued as there were wins for leaders Stretford Paddock, who defeated Manchester Polonia 2-0.

Chasing hard, each with a game in hand over Paddock, are Moston Brook and De La Salle.

They both showed their title intent with big wins for De La Salle by 7-3 in their local derby with North Walkden and Moston Brook were in seventh heaven with a 7-1 win at Salford Vics.

The other game saw Milton returning to form with a 3-1 derby win at Abacus Media.

Cup action and waterlogged pitches saw Division One reduced to just one game and Hadfield had few problems in a 6-3 win over Didsbury.

Division Two leaders Hattersley maintained their ten-point lead at the top with a 3-1 win at lowly Bedians.

Wythenshawe Wanderers stay second after accounting for South Manchester 5-2.

Sale Amateurs continued their improved form with a comfortable 9-1 over Milltown and the other two games were close affairs with Irlam Tiger Rangers scoring the only goal of their game at Mellor and Stretford Paddock reserves won by the odd goal in five at Newton.

The big game in Division Three saw the top two teams playing each other in a fine end-to-end contest which saw leaders Chadderton Park share six goals with AFC Stockport to stay eight points clear.

Plenty of goals in the other two games with Elton Lib Hargreaves beating Woodhouses 5-2 and Stoconians had one of their best results of the season with a 6-0 win over Aldermere.

Division A leaders North Walkden reserves were without a game, giving Woodsend Athletic the opportunity to overtake them as they took on basement team Trafford United reserves.

But they were frustrated by a spirited Trafford, who secured a 1-1 draw. It leaves Athletic in the driving seat, level with the leaders on points with a vital game in hand. But they will see it as a missed opportunity.

Santos kept a rare clean sheet as they won 1-0 at AFC Oldham reserves.

Milton reserves were the top scorers in the division with a 7-3 victory over Milnrow Firgrovia.

Salford Storm enjoyed an excellent grass surface at Hough End as two late goals secured a close 2-1 win at Greater Manchester FC.

It was the same score in the other game in favour of Moston Brook reserves at Stretford Paddock Development.

In Division B, Aldermere reserves are within touching distance of the title as they kept up their remorseless progress with a clinical 4-0 win over Hillgate.

Old Stretfordians reserves overtook Greater Manchester reserves in second place on goal difference after a big 8-2 win at Oldham Saints as Greater Manchester shared the spoils in a tight 1-1 draw at Flixton JFC.

A thriller at Moston Brook thirds saw visiting AFC Oldham reserves win by the odd goal in nine and a tight contest at Heaton Mersey saw the home team score the only goal of their derby clash with Parrs Wood Celtic.

Plenty of hot shots in Division C with Mellor reserves closing the gap on non-playing leaders Dukinfield Athletic to 12 points as they dispatched Salford Storm reserves 6-0.

Bury Ams reserves went one better as they beat Urmston Town Vale 7-0.

The six-goal theme continued as Staly Lions beat Altrincham Hale 6-3 and Eccles United reserves made it a good day for the club with a 6-0 victory at Stoconians reserves.

Village Manchester reserves enjoyed an efficient 3-0 win at Chadderton Park reserves.

The other game was much tighter with AFC Stockport Warriors edging a 3-2 win over a lively Govan Athletic Development.

A rain-soaked Division D was reduced to just one game but it was important as Moston Brook fourths beat Mellor Development 5-1 to lead Whalley Range by three points but Range have two games in hand over Brook.

Minute’s silence held before weekend’s action

THE Lancashire and Cheshire AFL held a minute’s silence before the kick offs in their games for Kennie Carter, the tragic 16-year-old victim of violent knife crime, a member of whose family plays for Urmston Town Vale.

There were three big county cup games with our teams looking to boost the already very healthy success in cup competitions this season on a very windy day.

It was a great game at Whalley Range where Premier Division high-flyers Moston Brook saw their young team give a good account of themselves in the Lancashire Amateur Cup.

Range finished with great precision to lead 3-0 after 55 minutes but then had a man sent off and conceded a goal to give Brook hopes but Range resisted their pressure well and sealed the win with a fourth goal with Brook grabbing a deserved second consolation at the death.

Rochdalians have been on a great run of form recently in the Premier Division but were hit hard by injury and work commitments at Burnley Belvedere and this was not helped with a serious injury on 20 minutes with no back-up players from the bench.

Burnley did not have a shot on goal in the first half and took the lead when the wind blew in a speculative cross.

Burnley had still not had a shot on target after 70 minutes then added a second with a dubious penalty and Dalians conceded a second penalty on 80 minutes and Burnley made it 4-0 with their only goal from open play as Dalians finished with ten men due to sin binning leaving them with big regrets if they had been able to field a full-strength team.

In the Manchester Amateur Cup, Salford Storm were unable to join the other five L & C teams in the last eight as they went out 3-0 to Droylsden who were on fire in the first half to build their lead with the goals.

Premier Division action saw the top two involved in and Stretford Paddock stay three points clear with a close 2-1 win at a spirited Salford Vics.

De La Salle had few problems as they beat Manchester Polonia 5-0 and still have a game in hand over Paddock with a much better goal difference.

North Walkden were too hot to handle with a 9-3 win over Milton and Manchester Challenge Cup finalists Abacus Media defeated AFC Oldham 4-1.

With non-playing Chadderton Cott already assured of the Division One title it is now a battle for second spot and Signol Athletic showed their intent with a 3-1 win at Old Stretfordians.

Irlam Tigers are hot on their heels and an efficient 3-0 win at Didsbury sees them two points behind with two games in hand.

Trafford United lifted themselves off the foot of the table with a 2-0 win at Bury Ams.

Hattersley are in firm control of Division Two with a huge 10-point lead but Eccles United showed their intent as they shared eight goals with Hattersley.

Wythenshawe Wanderers moved into second place with a 4-1 win at South Manchester.

Adam Kay struck twice for Wanderers with Jordan Harper replying for South before the break.

But another double from Kay in the second half gave Wanderers a comfortable win.

Bedians stay at the foot of the table after losing 6-3 at a lively Baguley Athletic.

Newton gained a valuable point as they look to make mid-table, sharing two goals at Irlam Tiger Rangers and Mellor enjoyed an emphatic 5-1 win over Stretford Paddock reserves.

Chadderton Park extended their big lead in Division Three to eight points with a 5-0 derby win at Radclyffe as second-placed AFC Stockport were held to a draw in an eight-goal thriller at Elton Lib Hargreaves.

Hooley Bridge Celtic and Stoconians were celebrating much-needed wins as Bridge beat Aldermere 4-2 and Stoconians kept a rare clean sheet accounting for Woodhouses 2-0.

Village Manchester kept second place firmly in their sights with an efficient 5-0 win over Abacus Media reserves.

It’s all to play for at the top of Division A as a Ben Marshall hat-trick saw Santos topple top of the table North Walkden Reserves 3-1.

His first was the only goal of the first half and a quickfire double early in the second half completed his treble. The visitors pulled a goal back late on after missing a penalty.

Woodsend Athletic closed the gap to a point on the leaders and have two vital games in hand.

Kartel Sports also have games in hand on the top two and a 5-2 win at Stretford Paddock Development keeps them well in touch.

There were wins for Salford Vics reserves by 3-2 at AFC Oldham reserves and Moston Brook reserves by 2-0 at Trafford United reserves and the game between Milton reserves and Greater Manchester was deadlocked at 2-2.

Division B runaway leaders Aldermere reserves took another big step to the title but were given a tough game by Moston Brook thirds before emerging with a narrow 2-1 victory.

The local derby at Flixton JFC saw them share four goals with Old Strets reserves.

Derby action also took place at Hillgate with the home team edging a 3-2 win over Spurley Hey and Parrs Wood Celtic enjoyed a 3-0 win over AFC Oldham thirds.

Runaway Division C leaders Dukinfield Athletic moved 15 points clear with a comfortable 4-1 win at Stoconians reserves as second-placed Mellor reserves and Altrincham Hale were without games.

The other games were good contests with AFC Stockport Warriors scoring the only goal of their game with Urmston Town Vale, a score-line matched by Eccles United reserves hosting Govan Development.

The other game saw Staly Lions win 2-0 over Village Manchester Reserves.

Division D is finely poised, with just a point separating the top three teams.

Moston Brook fourths moved to top on goal difference after beating title rivals Bury Ams thirds 5-0 and Whalley Range also moved above Bury and level on points with Brook with a comfortable 4-0 win over AFC Oldham fourths.

A mid-table contest saw Milltown reserves with 3-2 at Irlam Tigers A and Mellor Development won 3-1 at Hale Altrincham reserves.

The other game was a clash of the ages which produced a rare goalless draw between Didsbury reserves and Salford Vics Development.

League dominate Manchester Amateur Cup

ABACUS Media have set the benchmark for the L & C in Manchester FA Cup competitions by reaching the final of the Manchester Challenge Cup with a thrilling semi-final win over Denton Town.

The teams have followed suit in the Manchester Amateur Cup, with five L & C sides making it through to the quarter finals.

Irlam Tiger are the star turns with two of their teams going through led by their first team with a superb 2-0 win at Failsworth Dynamoes.

Progressing with them are their A team who belied their Division D status with an impressive 3-1 win over Division One team Shaw Athletic.

Division One leaders Chadderton Cott kept up their hopes of treble trophy success as they eased past Old Stretfordians reserves 3-1.

Eccles United had few problems as they beat Manchester Rovers 4-0 and Baguley Athletic completed the quintet winning 2-0 at Old Strets firsts.

Salford Storm will be looking to make it six teams through as they will play their postponed game with AFC Droylsden this weekend.

There was plenty of top action in the Premier Division and Stretford Paddock were back in the groove to move ahead of De La Salle at the top with a 3-1 win over a plucky AFC Oldham.

De La Salle were held 1-1 by Abacus Media who showed how they have reached the Manchester Challenge Cup final with a well organised defence.

After struggling for goals in recent games Moston Brook were in seventh heaven with rousing 7-0 win at Milton to keep on the heels of the top two.

Salford Vics enjoyed a 4-2 derby win over North Walkden and Rochdalians kept up their recent revival with 5-2 win at Manchester Polonia to boost their confidence for their big upcoming Lancashire Amateur Cup tie at Burnley Belvedere.

League action in Division One was limited by the outside cup competition and was confined to the bottom half of the division with Trafford United enjoying a 6-2 win at Didsbury with Nathan Bradley, Brendan Wordsworth and Danny Smith among the United scorers.

The other game saw Bury Ams beat visitors Hadfield United 4-2.

Plenty of action in the very competitive Division Two and runaway leaders Hattersley extended their lead to 11 points but had to work hard for a 3-2 win at Sale Ams.

Irlam Tiger Rangers completed a memorable day for their club with a 5-3 win over Wythenshawe Wanderers and Newton were celebrating long and loud after their best display of the season gave them a 7-0 win over Milltown to lift them off the foot of the table.

An excellent mid-table encounter at South Manchester saw Mellor win 4-2 with doubles for Sam Dobbins and Jordan Conway.

Another enthralling game saw Stretford Paddock reserves win by the odd goal in seven hosting Bedians.

Chadderton Park stay in control of Division Three with a 5-2 win at Aldermere moving them six points clear of non-playing AFC Stockport.

Village Manchester were on fire with a 6-1 win at Salford Albion to stay in third spot ahead of Radclyffe FC who grafted a 2-1 win at Hooley Bridge Celtic.

It was also close in the other two games with wins for Stoconians by 3-2 over Abacus Media reserves and Elton Lib Hargreaves by 2-1 at Woodhouses.

There were plenty of exciting games in Division A with North Walkden reserves remaining four points clear of the pack thanks to a 3-1 victory over AFC Oldham thirds.

Second-placed Woodsend Athletic were taken all the way at Santos after goals from Ben Marshall and David Clegg had looked like securing a draw for the home team before Athletic snatched a dramatic late winner.

Kartel Sports are firmly in the frame with a 4-0 win over Greater Manchester which puts them nine points behind North Walkden but with a massive five games in hand.

Milnrow Firgrovia shared six goals with Stretford Paddock Development and the other games produced wins for Salford Vics reserves by 2-0 at Trafford United reserves and Moston Brook reserves by 4-2 over Milton reserves.

Division B leaders, free scoring Aldermere reserves, were held to a rare goalless draw at a hard-working AFC Oldham thirds and Greater Manchester reserves reduced the gap at the top to 12 points with a gritty 3-2 victory over Spurley Hey.

Dukinfield Athletic moved 12 points clear of Division C with a huge win over Bury Ams reserves as second-placed Mellor reserves had no game and now have four games in hand over the leaders.

Altrincham Hale beat Eccles United reserves 4-1 and are level on points with Govan Athletic Development who beat basement team Stoconians reserves 2-0.

Urmston Town Vale beat Salford Storm 3-1 and AFC Stockport Warriors won 2-1 at Village Manchester in mid-table matches.

Heaton Mersey had their best win of the season by 6-2 hosting Oldham Saints with their six-hit set off by a stunning header from Simon Caughey on 15 minutes.

The other games in the division were tight contests with Flixton JFC scoring the only goal of their game at Moston Brook thirds and Hillgate drew 1-1 with Parrs Wood Celtic.

Bury Ams thirds took over the top of Division D from non-playing Whalley Range with a 5-1 win at Didsbury reserves who again showed great spirit and ageless skills on a difficult surface.

Moston Brook fourths kept in touch with the top two with a comfortable 6-3 win at Mellor Development and in the other game AFC Oldham fourths edged a close 3-2 win over Salford Vics Development.

Moston Brook stake their title claims

IT was virtually back to a full programme of fixtures for the first time in a number of weeks much to the relief of fixtures secretary Malc Kershaw.

Premier Division leaders Stretford Paddock weren’t in action and De La Salle took full advantage, hammering basement boys AFC Oldham 9-1 to move within a point of the leaders with a game in hand.

Moston Brook are also firmly in the title hunt but they were taken all the way by Rochdalians who showed their recent upsurge in form as they restricted Brook to the only goal of an excellent game which leaves them four points behind Paddock with a game in hand.

The other two games were entertaining contests with North Walkden winning by the odd goal in five at Milton and Manchester Challenge Cup finalists Abacus Media shared eight goals in an end-to-end thriller at Salford Vics.

Just one game in Division One with Trafford United hosting Bury in an enthralling game.

Trafford took an early lead and with Bury reduced to ten men after 30 minutes they added a second before the break.

But Bury raised their game and dominated the second half and, despite falling 3-1 behind, roared back to complete a remarkable 5-4 comeback victory in a breathless encounter.

There was a full programme in the highly competitive Division Two.

Leaders Hattersley extended their healthy lead to eight points after coming from 2-1 down to defeat Mellor 4-2.

Second-placed Eccles United were held 2-2 at Sale Ams and Wythenshawe Wanderers had to work hard for victory against basement club Newton.

Newton took the lead with a stunning strike from Danny Ball but Wanderers showed their fighting spirit to quickly get on level terms before grabbing the winner for three vital points to keep the pressure on the top two.

Baguley Athletic kept up their steady start in the league with a 2-0 win over Stretford Paddock reserves.

Irlam Tiger Rangers could yet get up into the title chase as they have plenty of games in hand over the top teams and a resounding 7-0 win over South Manchester boosts their title hopes.

The other game saw Milltown lift themselves out of the bottom two with a 3-1 win over Bedians.

Village Manchester pulled off the result of the day in Division Three with a 4-0 win at second-placed AFC Stockport allowing leaders Chadderton Park to open up a three-point gap after an emphatic 6-3 win at Stoconians.

Salford Albion also hit six at Aldermere with Curtis Slater (three), Alex Law, Matthew McDonagh and Edward Burke netting while Aldermere grabbed consolation goals through Peter Walker and Kris Dickinson (two).

Plenty of goals in the other two games with Elton Lib Hargreaves winning 5-3 at Abacus Media reserves and Woodhouses moved from the foot of the table with a breathless 5-4 win at Hooley Bridge Celtic.

North Walkden reserves stay in control of Division A with a 5-1 win over lowly Santos who deserved a late consolation from Owen Greenwood-Dawson. The win puts North four points clear of non-playing Woodsend Athletic who have two games in hand.

Kartel stay in the hunt with a 3-1 win over Milton Reserves and are poised behind the top two with plenty of games in hand.

The other games produced wins for Moston Brook reserves by 5-2 at AFC Oldham reserves and Greater Manchester by 3-1 over Trafford United reserves, while a 2-2 deadlock between Stretford Paddock Development and Salford Vics reserves rounded off the action in the division.

Aldermere reserves kept up their great form to maintain a 14-point lead in Division B with a 6-0 cruise at Spurley Hey.

There was little between the teams in the other games in the division with wins for Parrs Wood Celtic by 1-0 at AFC Oldham thirds, Flixton JFC by 2-1 over draw specialists Heaton Mersey and Greater Manchester reserves by the same score at Oldham Saints with the other game seeing Moston Brook thirds and Old Stretfordians reserves sharing six goals.

Dukinfield Athletic enjoyed a 4-1 win at Urmston Town Vale to retain their lead of nine points at the top of Division C over Mellor reserves who were firing on all cylinders in a 1-0 derby win over Stoconians reserves.

Altrincham Hale stay in the mix with a comfortable 6-2 win at Bury Ams reserves and Salford Storm were in seventh heaven with 7-1 win at Chadderton Park reserves.

AFC Stockport Warriors were held 1-1 by Eccles United reserves and Govan Athletic Development kept an immaculate clean sheet in a 3-0 win at Village Manchester reserves.

It’s close at the top of Division D and leaders Whalley Range hung on to top spot by the skin of their teeth in a superb local derby with lowly Didsbury reserves.

Many old memories were revived in a great game enjoyed by players, spectators and referee Graham Ellis as Range just dug in to win 3-2 with goals from Craig Haynes (two) and Danny Miller with Range centre back Mike Franklin giving Didsbury hope with a spectacular own goal.

Bury Ams thirds stay a point behind Range with a game in hand after a 6-0 win over Mellor Development and Moston Brook fourths lost ground as they went down 4-2 to visiting Irlam Tigers A.

The other game in the division saw Altrincham Hale reserves share four goals with AFC Oldham fourths.

There were two delayed Manchester Amateur Cup matches played and they proved to be the end of the road for two L & C teams with Radclyffe losing 3-1 to Manchester Rovers and Didsbury found a well-organised Brownley Albion too hot to handle as they were trounced 9-0.

Abacus Media through to Manchester Challenge Cup final

THE Lancashire and Cheshire League resumed eagerly-awaited action after a three-week break but the busy programme was hit by a combination of snow, frost heavy rain and covid infections causing great frustration and many postponements.

Artificial pitches provided a great lifeline as the players and officials showed their love of the game with some tremendous games played in great spirit to launch 2022.

The highlight for the league was provided by Abacus Media who hosted Cheshire League outfit Denton Town in their twice-postponed Manchester Challenge Cup semi-final.

There were near misses at both ends and Abacus showed terrific spirit and defensive organisation as the game went goalless through normal time and added time to set up the dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Abacus kept their nerve to win 4-3 and can now look forward to the final.

The other outside cup matches played saw Old Stretfordians bow out of the Altrincham and District Cup as they went down 5-1 to Wythenshawe Amateurs Development.

Newton played AFC Droylsden in the Manchester Amateur Cup, a game that went to the wire, with Newton agonisingly edged out 5-4 on penalties after the encounter ended 3-3.

The Premier Division’s top match was another thriller as Moston Brook hosted De La Salle with both teams looking to close the gap on leaders Stretford Paddock.

Both teams did their clubs proud with their efforts and talent as the game ebbed and flowed for 90 minutes with neither team able to find a vital finish.

But the game, expertly controlled by referee Peter Darby and his assistants, was a great advert for the league with both teams giving everything they could.

Paddock had their lead reduced to four points over De La Salle, who have two games in hand and Moston Brook are also firmly in the mix also with two games in hand.

Rochdalians kept up their recent revival with a close 3-2 win at North Walkden and they were superbly led by club legend Davey Luker.

Salford Vics began 2022 in style with a comfortable 6-0 win at Manchester Polonia and Milton won 4-1 at AFC Oldham with again both teams putting on a great game.

Just one game played in Division One and Chadderton Cott clinched the title with a hard-earned 3-2 win over Hadfield Athletic.

Division Two was also restricted to one game which saw Bedians pick up a vital point in their relegation battle as they drew 1-1 in their local derby with Baguley Athletic.

In Division Three there were two games and Chadderton Park moved to the top of the table on goal difference from AFC Stockport with an emphatic 6-2 victory at Woodhouses.

It was much closer in the other game as a 2-1 win for Village Manchester over Elton Lib Hargreaves moved them up into fourth spot.

Plenty of action in Division A with four games played. Woodsend Athletic missed the chance to overtake leaders North Walkden reserves as they shared eight goals in a thriller at Milton reserves.

There were plenty of thrills and spills at Santos in their local derby with AFC Oldham reserves

AFC Oldham took the spoils in the local derby. Santos led twice in first half through David Clegg and Ben Marshall. Tim Gallagher added a third early in second half, however three quick goals around the hour mark settled it for the visitors.

Great Manchester FC reserves also scored four in a 4-2 win at Milnrow Firgrovia and the other game saw Salford Vics reserves and Moston Brook reserves share four goals in another exciting game.

Just two games played in Division B and AFC Oldham thirds reduced the big lead of non-playing Aldermere reserves to 14 points with a 4-2 win at Hillgate. Old Strets reserves had few problems in a 4-1 cruise over Oldham Saints to move up to fourth place.

Dukinfield Athletic also have a big lead in Division C and Mellor reserves reduced it to nine points with three games in hand with a big 10-1 win over Deans Youth. The other game was much closer with Village Manchester reserves winning 2-1 at Altrincham Hale.

The solitary game in Division D was significant in the title race as Whalley Range moved to the summit, overtaking Bury Ams thirds after edging Moston Brook fourths 1-0. The defeated side are third but still in the title picture that promises many twists and turns in the coming weeks.  

L & C review of 2021 and plans for 2022

AMATEUR grassroots sport has suffered greatly for the best part of two years with the effects of the Covid pandemic.

The L & C, the largest Saturday afternoon amateur football league in the region, has endured numerous problems during this time, putting a great strain on league and club officials who have put in fantastic efforts to keep the game they love in action.

The 2020-21 season saw the league fixtures wiped out but some lively and well supported cup competitions towards the end of the season brought the league and clubs back into vibrant life and allowed us to enjoy some much-needed entertainment at a time of real uncertainty, when many were unsure when or indeed if action would resume.

Despite this uncertainty, the league’s popularity has continued and during pre-season, we had a number of applications for membership to the league. Remarkably, it means that our members have swelled to more than 90 – even more teams than we had just prior to the start of the pandemic.

Covid has caused games to be postponed – as is being keenly felt at professional level – due to players having to isolate, and the poor weather conditions have also posed acute challenges for the league committee and club officials.

In the last league General Meeting, Mike Yates, Chairman of the L & C, reviewed the season to date. It included a heartfelt tribute to former League Secretary John Howard, who passed away earlier this year, whilst also explaining the issues of participation that the L & C have had to contend with.

He said: “We start with sad news as our long serving committee member John Howard has recently passed away.

“We send our condolences to his son and our referees secretary Steven Howard and all the Howard family and friends at this sad time

“The league committee are shocked at the number of teams that have folded since the last GM in August, from 101 we are now down to 91.

“The committee have put this down to a lot of factors; delayed wedding and stag parties, delayed family visits, ongoing covid cases, holidays, changing work patterns, preferring to watch professional football and then just getting out of the habit of playing Saturday afternoon football.

“Our fixture secretary Malcolm Kershaw has been working extra hard to accommodate changes to planned fixtures and we appreciate it isn’t the secretaries and managers who are causing the postponements, it is the players, due to a combination of the above reasons, who are not available.”

Despite the challenges, Mike confirmed the league will continue to be flexible to ensure fixtures are fulfilled during what we expect will be a challenging second half of the season.

He added: “Fining and punishing the clubs is not the answer as they are not the cause. We are determined to finish the season so will continue our flexible approach to the issues you are all facing, so do flag up any potential issues you may have as soon as possible.”

There well over 2.500 players registered in the league and at the midpoint of the season it is pleasing to see that most of the clubs have played at least half of the league fixtures and the main aim will be to finish the league season.

There will be a window to play the league’s cup competitions in the New Year and also see our clubs still involved in county cup competitions get through their busy schedules.

At the end of the season, the League’s Presentation Dinner at Stockport County in May will take place to give out all of the trophies for league and cup competitions.

Defending their cup trophies will be Rhodes Cup holders Mellor, Wray Cup champions Signol Athletic, Whitehead Cup holders Irlam Tigers, and Radclyffe, who triumphed in the Hellawell Shield.

Steven Howard has been working hard to recruit new referees and hopefully will be able to see the majority of games covered until the end of the season and he is also deserving of congratulation for the time and effort he has given to his role from all involved in the league along with other hard-working committee members dedicated to helping proper grassroots football.

North Walkden Reserves move top of Division A

THE atrocious weather conditions experienced over the past week decimated the full programme of games, but artificial pitches enabled some of the games to take place as the leagues continued to take shape.

Premier Division leaders Stretford Paddock extended their lead at the top to eight points with a comfortable 6-1 win at Milton.

Second-placed De La Salle Reds lost ground as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Rochdalians who did well to get their grass pitch fit for play in an absorbing game.

Moston Brook drew level on points with De La Salle with a fine 4-1 win at North Walkden.

Both De La Salle and Brook have games in had on Paddock and if De La Salle win all of theirs they can overtake the leaders while Brook will be just two points adrift if they also manage this.

The other game produced a convincing 7-0 win for Salford Vics over a young and developing AFC Oldham who gave a good account of themselves but were unable to control the vibrant Vics attack.

Referee John Melia showed great powers of recovery as he was felled in an accidental bruising first-half collision with a Vics player, for which he needed extended treatment. But he then carried on to give an excellent display appreciated by both teams and the spectators.

Division One saw just one game survive but it was a vital local derby as Shaw Athletic hosted runaway leaders Chadderton Cott.

Cott eased to a 2-0 win which leaves them eight points clear of Signol Athletic with both teams having played 12 games.

The hotly contested Division Two was a total washout but there were two important games played in Division Three involving the top teams.

Leaders AFC Stockport faced a tricky fixture at Salford Albion who battled hard for a point in a 3-3 deadlock.

Second-placed Chadderton Park took advantage of Stockport’s slip as won a tight contest with Elton Lib Hargreaves by 2-1.

They are now four points behind the leaders but have two games in hand.

North Walkden reserves took full advantage of Division A leaders Woodsend Athletic having their game called off with a convincing 4-0 win at Moston Brook reserves taking them above Woodsend by two points.

Brook had the better of the early exchanges but were unable to convert their chances allowing North Walkden to take full advantage as they upped their game.

The bells were ringing in the other game in the division as Santos’ Big Bens both bagged braces at Milnrow Firgrovia in a mid-table 3-1 win.

Netting for Santos were Ben Chamberlain (two) and Ben Winterbottom, who bagged his second of the game with an own goal.

There were no games possible for the top teams in Division B but Moston Brook thirds lifted themselves out of the bottom two with an emphatic 3-0 win over Spurley Hey.

It was much closer in the other game which saw Oldham Saints act swiftly to move their game with Hillgate to the 3G at FC United.

They were rewarded for their enterprise with a thrilling 3-2 win with early strikes from Dave Cross and Sheldon Young giving them the momentum for victory.

The top two teams were in action in Division C with long-time leaders Dukinfield Athletic held to a 2-2 draw by a spirited Mellor reserves

Urmston Vale closed the gap on the leaders to 11 points with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over AFC Stockport Warriors.

They have four games in hand over Athletic and winning hem all could see them take over at the top of the table.

The other game saw Village Manchester reserves move into the top half of the table with an immaculate defence seeing them home by 2-0 over Stoconians reserves.

Just one game survived in Division D which did not affect the leading group but it was an enjoyable local derby as AFC Oldham fourths and Milltown reserves shared six goals.

There were many tributes paid by Whalley Range FC and their supporters and friends to their long-serving President Terry Curley at his funeral and at his beloved club last week– well deserved by a real sportsman in every way – a great ambassador for his club and grassroots sport.