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Premier Preview: Bottom of the table clash between Ashton and Stafford

By James Gordon

Ashton United host Stafford Rangers in a bottom of the table clash, with both sides occupying the relegation zone in the BetVictor Northern Premier League table.

At the foot of the table, Stafford Rangers last claimed victory at the start of December against Radcliffe, recording their first home victory of the season with a brace from Jake Charles for a 2-0 result.

Ashton United began their 2020 year with a 0-0 draw to Stalybridge Celtic, and last won in November against Buxton.

They will be hoping that new signings Louis Almond and Nialle Rodney will bring them a change in fortune as they host the game at Hurst Cross.

At the top of the table, South Shields host Mickleover Sports at Mariners Park.

The Mariners lead the way with 45 points, three points ahead of next best Lancaster and with three games in hand over the Dolly Blues.

Mark Fell returned to the dugouts over the Christmas period for Lancaster resuming his managerial duties after taking a break due to health reasons.

They travel to Grantham Town this weekend.

Speaking to the Lancaster Guardian, Fell said: “It was a huge shock when I was diagnosed with my condition.

“But you have to deal with whatever life throws at you.

“It’s not something I can dwell on – I have to deal with it and do as I am told.

“I have undergone treatment and I need an operation next month which will mean I will be away from the club for another period of time.

“I am winning though, it’s going in the right direction. I’ve a few hurdles to get over, but I have a positive mindset which helps and I am confident I will get out the other side.

“I think I will be better for it as well, I will have a bit more perspective.

“The club have been absolutely fantastic – the chairman, the Board, the supporters, my assistant Graham Lancashire.

“I have had loads of well-wishes from people at the club, fans – even messages from people I have fallen out with. They have all said that health is more important.”

In third place, FC United are in FA Trophy action against Barrow, while next best Basford United host Bamber Bridge.

In a battle of sixth versus seventh respectively, Warrington Town host Radcliffe in what will be a tight encounter at Cantilever Park.

Paul Carden added attacking options with the signings of Jordan Buckley from FC United and Will Harris on loan from Burnley, who both made debuts from the bench in their 1-1 draw with Atherton Collieries last weekend.

Radcliffe suffered their second 4-0 defeat of the season last weekend in an off-day for Jon Macken’s side against Bamber Bridge.

Just below Radcliffe, Nantwich Town welcomed Irish forward Ethon Varian on a month’s work experience loan from Stoke City, and the Dabbers face Scarborough Athletic, who said goodbye to loanee forward Connor Thomson, who was recalled by Gateshead this week.

Following their draw with the Yellows, Atherton Collieries host Stalybridge Celtic, while Hyde United face Whitby Town.

Gainsborough Trinity announced the signing of Douglas Tharmes on loan from National League North side Wrexham, the first of three expected signings from Curtis Woodhouse as his side prepare for their fixture against Witton Albion.

Likewise, Morpeth Town recently added Ryan Hutchinson to the squad from Blyth Spartans and he could make his debut against Buxton.

Where next?

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