WEEK ENDING 8th September 2007


GUISELEY lost their 100% record on Tuesday when held at KENDAL TOWN and followed up by dropping two more points on Saturday at ILKESTON TOWN but still lead the Premier Division table thanks to James Hanson’s equaliser five minutes in to stoppage time. Hanson has now netted in six of his side’s seven games. WITTON ALBION kept two more clean sheets in the week at BUXTON and OSSETT TOWN to make it five games in succession they haven’t conceded but dropped points at the latter where goals have been at a rare premium this season with Ossett having scored just three but conceded only four in their seven games.

Without doubt the team of the week has to be GATESHEAD who banged in five against FRICKLEY ATHLETIC in midweek and then hit HEDNESFORD TOWN for six on Saturday leaving the North East side as the only club still with a 100% record and they are joint third with MATLOCK TOWN and FLEETWOOD TOWN who surrendered their 100% start when MARINE beat them in midweek. More infrmation on tournament - At the bottom FRICKLEY ATHLETIC have now lost four on the bounce and are still looking for a first victory as are NORTH FERRIBY UNITED who are next to bottom. The latter must have thought they had got off the mark when they led at MATLOCK TOWN for a long part of the game on Saturday only for the “Gladiators” to peg them back in the last quarter of an hour. The week also saw a first win of the campaign for ASHTON UNITED and a first home win for last season’s First Division champions BUXTON.

OSSETT ALBION continue to lead the First Division North after a late winner at bottom club RADCLIFFE BOROUGH but they are only a point clear of BAMBER BRIDGE and CURZON ASHTON both of whom also won on Saturday and these two are the only unbeaten sides in this section. WOODLEY SPORTS and BRADFORD PARK AVENUE share fourth spot a further point clear of FC UNITED of MANCHESTER who are making significant progress after losing their opening two matches. Former Newcastle United and Northern Ireland international Tommy Cassidy oversaw NEWCASTLE BLUE STAR enjoy a first ever UniBond victory in his first match as manager, a result which left their victims CLITHEROE in joint bottom spot as one of two sides along with Radcliffe still without a win.

Last week’s two top teams in the First Division South met on Saturday with RETFORD UNITED running out 2-0 winners to leapfrog QUORN who amazingly dropped to sixth place. COLWYN BAY are the only unbeaten side and took second place with a 3-2 win at ALSAGER TOWN who are fifth. Last season’s relegated GRANTHAM TOWN are finding this level much more to their liking and moved in to third after accounting for NANTWICH TOWN whilst SHEFFIELD FC had the win of the day beating their FA Cup conquerors from last Saturday CAMMELL LAIRDS 4-0. This was only the second occasion that Lairds had failed to score in a Unibond League game in the 51 matches they have played since joining the League. At the bottom BELPER TOWN and BRIGG TOWN are still searching for a first win and SPALDING UNITED for their first point.

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Next Saturday sees the Premier Division clubs join the 22 surviving First Division clubs on the FA Cup trail and there are three all Premier Division ties with a tasty looking “derby” at Leek Town where the visitors will be last season’s First Division Champions Buxton whilst Witton Albion host Prescot Cables and Kendal Town make the long haul to Worksop Town. Six ties see the top tier take on First Division sides with the most intriguing due to history as well as the big followings both clubs can muster being at Fleetwood Town where FC United of Manchester will be the visitors.  FC United won their first ever FA Cup tie last Sunday when beating Trafford 5-2 in front of a crowd well past the 2,000 mark. That win set up the visit to Fleetwood and a look back in the history books reveals that the forebears of Manchester United from whom FC United were indirectly founded two years ago played their first ever FA Cup tie under the name of Newton Heath at Fleetwood on 30th October 1886. There was a bizarre outcome to that tie which surely will not be repeated as Newton Heath refused to play extra-time when the game finished 2-2 and duly saw the tie awarded to Fleetwood! Some 2,000 watched that game and doubtless the tie next Saturday will see a similar figure. One team already through to the next round are Bradford Park Avenue after they beat Ossett Albion in the Preliminary Round. Avenue benefited from the close season demise of Scarborough to secure a safe passage in to the 2nd Qualifying Round on 29th September. There will be at least two other First Division sides through to the 2nd Qualifying Round as Cammell Laird visit Radcliffe Borough and Chorley entertain Clitheroe. In the twenty-one ties against outside opposition the UniBond League contingent will enjoy home advantage in only nine.

Leek Town manager Paul Ogden was rushed to hospital midway through the first half of Tuesday evening’s game against Prescot Cables with severe stomach pains. He was kept in hospital for two nights before being discharged whilst consultants await the results of tests and consider what further investigations are required.

It has taken longer than usual but the first UniBond League managerial casualty of the season has arrived two and half weeks in to the campaign. Newcastle Blue Star have parted company with Andy Gowens despite having lost only one game in their opening five including an FA Cup tie. However that cup-tie was their only success with the other three games drawn. Replacing Gowens is the long serving Workington boss Tommy Cassidy who had been at Borough Park since October 2001 overseeing the club to its highest position since its Football League days before accepting Blue Star’s offer this week. The former Northern Ireland and Newcastle United star played in the 1974 FA Cup Final, the 1976 Football League Cup Final and the 1982 World Cup Finals when he won the last of his 24 caps. He has a great deal of managerial experience including a spell in Cyprus which can be even more volatile than the UniBond League for managerial changes! He was the longest serving manager in that competition when he took Apoel to the Cypriot title before guiding them to the last sixteen in the European Cup – the furthest any side from Cyprus has ever been. Between that experience and taking over at Workington he managed Irish sides Glentoran and Sligo Rovers and took Gateshead to their highest ever Conference finish of 8th spot.

The UniBond League’s broadband TV service may only be in its third week since returning to PC screens but the highlights of the two matches screened so far have already reached as far afield as India, Australia and the USA. Almost 5,000 fans in fifteen different countries have watched the 25 minute “Match of the Week” programmes over the first two weeks of broadcasting. Mark Harris, the UniBond League’s Head of Marketing commented “We are delighted with the interest shown in the service and feel that this is only the start”. The first “live” game takes place this Tuesday (September 11th) when the cameras visit Wales for Colwyn Bay’s First Division South clash with Kidsgrove Athletic. The cost will be just £3-95 to view the match which can be accessed by going to the League website and clicking on the broadband TV banner at the top of the page.  The UniBond League hopes to feature as many clubs from all three Divisions as possible. Harris explained “The roll out of the Pubs and Clubs side of things will eventually allow us to film every team in the UniBond League. In the meantime by only charging for live games and making the Broadband NPL TV service free to view we are bringing the name of the UniBond League to the attention of a worldwide audience of supporters as well as potential sponsors and advertisers”.

Belper Town this week launched a new membership scheme aimed at developing closer links with the club’s supporters and making them feel part of the organisation. The new Members Club offers 10% discount on season tickets and half season tickets, discounts on club merchandise (including replica kits), subsidised travel to the “Nailers” away games, discounts with local businesses, a weekly newsletter, the match day programme e-mailed directly to members and free draws. Club Secretary Dave Laughlin said “We felt we needed to develop closer links with our supporters and make them feel part of the club. We see this scheme as a way of improving communications with the fans and keeping them in touch with everything that is going on at Christchurch Meadow”.