On Saturday, we welcome our friends from Leek Town to the Eco Giants stadium.
Leek were old sparring partners from the original NWC days in the eighties, with key memories of an FA Cup game, which had three replays before we went down by the odd goal in the midweek replay, and a Paul Beck hat trick on our travels. However, it was always clear that Leek were destined for bigger things and they rapidly outgrew the NWC and ultimately dined at the top table of the Conference for several seasons. Their ground is outstanding and reflects this higher level of football and the reception we receive down there is first class. They have been at level 4 for a number of seasons albeit it is only latterly that they have shared a league with us again. They tend to reach the play offs without fail, but then fall at the last hurdle. For the past couple of seasons they have drawn Runcorn at home in the first semi final and on both occasions have been inexplicably put to the sword. In short, if you finish higher than Leek in this league, you will not go far wrong.
Their season to date has been slightly topsy turvy. Long standing manager Neil Baker stood down early into the season after a slow start, with Josh Brehaut, one of his assistants, taking over. They quickly got into their groove , indeed their 3rd qualifying round victory against South Shields was the BBC’s live fixture. They then travelled to AFC Fylde and gave a good account of themselves, only going down 1-3. As they played catch up in the league, they ominously moved up the table, picking up victories as they went. However, their last five games have not gone to plan, with an away draw at Vauxhall and away defeat at Bootle, being followed by a hard fought win at home to local rivals Hanley. Last Saturday they were beaten at home by Avro and were well beaten 0-5 on Tuesday by their regular nemesis Runcorn. They will come into the game smarting and we will need to make sure we do not suffer the backlash.