Something For The Weekend: Vanarama National League North

By Steve Whitney

Almost all the matches in the Vanarama National League North on Saturday have significance at either end of the table.

Love or loathe the play-off system, its major plus point is that it stretches interest in matches right to the last week or so of the season.

There are a plethora of vital games to choose from this weekend involving the promotion and relegation battles, but here's three to keep an eye on.

Bradford Park Avenue v Harrogate Town

A Yorkshire derby with a real edge to it. Bradford Park Avenue have to win to keep the pressure on Spennymoor Town and Chorley, the two teams immediately above them in the table.

Games between Avenue and Town have been tight this season, with a 0-0 draw in the Emirates FA Cup before Harrogate won the replay 2-0 and a 1-1 draw at the CNG Stadium in the reverse fixture back in October.

To take the title, Harrogate have to win their final two matches and hope current leaders Salford City lose theirs as Simon Weaver's side possess a better goal difference. Failing that, Town will be looking to finish second to take an automatic home semi-final spot in the play-offs – they are already assured of finishing in the top three.

AFC Telford United v Gainsborough Trinity

This is a definite 'must-win' game for Gainsborough Trinity if they are to stay at this level.

AFC Telford United eased the pressure on themselves by beating Blyth Spartans in midweek to move up to 16th in the table, four points above Trinity and with two games still to play after this one.

Mathematically, Rob Edwards' side are not safe yet but for Lee Sinnott's men, two vital 1-0 wins at the Northolm against York City last Saturday and against already-relegated North Ferriby United on Humberside on Tuesday has given them a chance and tightened up the bottom end of the table.

Tamworth v Chorley

It has surprised many pundits to see Tamworth second-bottom, a point behind Gainsborough and this game at The Lamb is a real 'six-pointer' for Mike Fowler's side.

If they win against sixth-placed Chorley on Saturday and results go a certain way, then we could be left with a 'winner takes all' final game of the season at the Northolme against Trinity!

As for Matt Jansen's side, they will be looking to keep clear of the chasing pack to cement a place in the play-offs and will be looking to finish as high as they can to get a preferable draw.

Saturday's fixtures:-

AFC Telford United v Gainsborough Trinity
Alfreton Town v FC United of Manchester
Blyth Spartans v Stockport County
Bradford Park Avenue v Harrogate Town
Curzon Ashton v Spennymoor Town
Darlington FC v Nuneaton Town
North Ferriby United v Kidderminster Harriers
Salford City v Boston United
Southport v Brackley Town
Tamworth v Chorley
York City v Leamington

Photo by Town Pix

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