Something For The Weekend: National League North

By Steve Whitney

The final Saturday of January sees some intriguing games involving teams at either end of the table. Here's three to keep an eye out for the result of, come 4.50pm on Saturday.

Leamington v Darlington

Although it's not quite 'squeaky bum' time yet, the game at The Phillips 66 Community Stadium between Leamington and Darlington does have the air of being a crucial encounter at the bottom end of the table.

The Brakes' first season back in the second tier of Non-League football's top competition has been a mixed one, and it's probably fair to describe Paul Holleran's side as having been 'inconsistent'.

They have had some excellent results, such as the 3-0 win at Tamworth just before Christmas when they also held high-flying Brackley Town to two draws.

However, they've also suffered defeats at relegation rivals Alfreton Town and Southport in recent weeks before earning a vital 3-0 win against another side fighting the drop, Gainsborough Trinity, on Tuesday night.

The Brakes hold a three-point advantage over fourth-bottom Quakers going into the game on Saturday, and the situation is becoming critical for Tommy Wright's side.

Quakers have played more games than most of the others around them in the table, although Leamington have also played 27 matches.

Successive draws against Alfreton and Chorley were preceded by three defeats to leave Wright's side in trouble, so it's crucial they get something from their trip to Warwickshire.

Gainsborough Trinity v Alfreton Town

The same could be said for Dave Frecklington's Trinity side as they take on an in-form Alfreton outfit at The Northolme.

A change in management which saw Chris Moyses replace John McDermott seems to have worked for the Reds, who have leapt up to 13th in the table after three wins and a draw from their last four matches – including a terrific 1-0 win at play-off chasing Blyth Spartans on Tuesday.

Second-bottom Trinity have stuck by Frecklington, who was appointed in February 2017 and helped guide the team away from the drop zone last season.

However, he needs results, having lost at Leamington last time out and being without a league win since beating Darlington on December 23rd.

Harrogate Town v AFC Telford United

AFC Telford are facing an extremely tough task as they look to push out of the relegation zone.

They head to Yorkshire and to the CNG Stadium, where second-placed Harrogate have only lost once to date this season, that being against leaders Salford City back in September.

Simon Weaver's side got themselves back on track on Tuesday with a comprehensive 4-1 win over play-off chasing Stockport County and, although they are eight points adrift of the Ammies, they are determined to chase them all the way.

As for the Bucks, their now annual battle against the drop sees them make the trip north in third-bottom spot, level on points with Darlington and two in front of Gainsborough.

Former Wolves player Rob Edwards, now in charge of Telford, has had a tough baptism at this level and, having been without a game since a week last Tuesday, will be desperate to get back on the pitch and look to end a miserable run which has produced only one point from their last five league games – including a 5-3 home thrashing by York City last time out.

In recent meetings between the teams, Harrogate have won two of the last three, including a 5-1 success at New Bucks Head in September, while Telford have come out on top in one of the last seven clashes.

Photo by Town Pix

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