Following last week’s total cancellation of fixtures due to the extreme weather caused by the Beast from the East, you would have expected a vast improvement to allow the fixture schedule to get back to normal, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
Heavy rainfall on top of the melted snow meant that those which were to be played on artificial surfaces were the only to go ahead.
With the top three not in action, Heyside had the opportunity to close the gap with their game in hand at home to Stockport Georgians. However, it was the visitors who collected all three points thanks to a narrow 2-1 victory. Joe Bevan and Oliver Hemlin put Georgians into a 2-goal lead but with Heyside down to 10 men, they could only half the deficit at Crompton House.
Fifth-placed Springhead took full advantage of Heyside’s slip-up as they inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Dukinfield Town to move them within four points with three games in hand. Daniel Parkinson was on target for Town but a brace from Leighton Stephenson and Ryan Fagan’s effort ensured ‘Head left Wright Robinson with maximum points.
Old Alts moved off the bottom thanks to their excellent 4-1 win at Manchester Gregorians. The gap between the two sides is now just two points as it tightens up for the teams in the bottom six. Alts were replaced by AFC Monton as they became the newest basement team after they were handed a 6-1 thrashing at Walshaw Sports.
Rochdale Sacred Heart made it two consecutive wins as they saw off Royton Town in a seven-goal thriller at Oldham Academy North. The champions move up two places to eleventh after an impressive 5-2 win thanks to a Jack Holt hat-trick and further goals from Will Kinder and Curtis Williams. Sacred Heart amazingly still have another thirteen games to play.
Sixth place hosted first in the only game of the day in the division. Avro Res travelled to Fearns Community College to face Walshaw Sports Res but the league leaders could only add another point to their lead as they played out a goalless draw, moving Sports on to 12 points.
Rochdale Sacred Heart A got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory away to Hollinwood Res. The win solidifies their position in fourth, extending the gap to five points between them and their opponents.
Bolton Lads & Girls Club Res returned to top spot following their 3-2 win at home to Altrincham Hale Res. The leaders now hold a slender two-point advantage with having just three games remaining. The title race is between any of the top six places as just four points separate them all.
We now know the teams that will contest this season’s Murray Trophy Final.
2016/17 finalists Manchester Central will be returning to Hyde, hoping to go one better after losing out last time.
They overcame Altrincham Hale in an enthralling game at Blessed Thomas Halford School, winning 4-3 despite being a goal down. Thomas Greenfield and Joshua Frith scored to ensure Central took a 2-1 lead into the half-time break before Oumar Kande-Mballo and Lamin Baldeh added second half goals and seal their place in the final.
They will meet Tintwistle Athletic after they squeezed past Leigh Athletic to secure a final berth in their debut MFL season. Tom Burns, Anthony Rodrigues and Josh Stevenson got Tinny’s goals to see them through to the finale in May.
In the final Group A game, Wythenshawe Amateurs Res finished off in style with a 7-2 win over Wilmslow Albion Res. They now face a tough test against Division Three leaders Avro in the semi-final. Rochdale Sacred Heart Res and Springhead Res contest the other last-four tie.