5 things we learnt from the weekend

David Flitcroft
1. Bury may have found Clarke replacement

BURY made plenty of high-profile signings last summer as they prepared for life back in League One. This summer it looked like they’d be keeping it low key, with Chris Kirkland the biggest name to arrive, only to leave soon after due to personal reasons.

Then they snapped up James Vaughan near the end of the transfer window after Birmingham agreed to release him. The striker is now 28 but is still the youngest player to score in the Premier League, which he did for Everton at 16. Since then he had an unsuccessful spell at Norwich before being a regular scorer in the Championship for Huddersfield but I was surprised to hear his debut goal in Bury’s thrilling fightback at Walsall was his first in 17 months.

He followed that up with a brace as the Shakers thumped Port Vale 4-1 on Saturday and David Flitcroft (above) then said he’d score 20 this season. The Bury boss said Leon Clarke would be irreplaceable when he had to sell his top scorer. Maybe he’s found a replacement after all.

2. Rochdale need a win – and quick
MANAGER Keith Hill said a couple of weeks ago he wasn’t worried about ROCHDALE’s slow start. That was before they scraped a draw with newly-promoted AFC Wimbledon then lost 1-0 at Oxford on Saturday. Including their EFL Cup defeat at QPR, they’ve now lost four of their last five and are bottom of League One.

Although Dale are still looking for their first league win of the season, Hill believes it’s been a bad run of results rather than a bad run of form. However, he accepts they must start turning that form into points to clear the ‘storm clouds’ which are gathering over Spotland.

This is a new scenario for Hill. He said himself that this is the first time he’s found himself in this situation in either of his two spells as Dale boss. His players have two chances this week to show they have the fight Hill called for as they host Sunderland’s Under-23s in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night before visiting Bristol Rovers in the league on Saturday.

3. Macclesfield look set to defy the cynics again
DESPITE finishing sixth and 10th the last two seasons, the bookies felt there was more chance of MACCLESFIELD being relegated than promoted this term, but the Silkmen have continued to punch above their weight.

They made a positive start under John Askey before suffering two straight defeats against Sutton United and Lincoln City, yet Askey’s men showed their character by bouncing back with a win at Solihull Moors on Bank Holiday Monday.

Goals by Danny Whitaker and Danny Rowe then set them on course for victory against Woking on Saturday, with Chris Holroyd sealing a 3-1 win late on. After eight games in the Vanarama National League, Macc are now fifth in the table and next up is lowly Bromley on Saturday.

4. Salford City are a force to be reckoned with
JOINT-manager Anthony Johnson admitted recently that his newly-promoted SALFORD side had the potential to claim a top-five finish in the National League North. The way they’re going they’ll be leading the title race.

The Ammies romped to a 4-1 home win against Alfreton Town on Saturday, with Mike Phenix, Jordan Hulme and Simon Grand scoring inside 26 minutes. And with Curzon Ashton doing them a favour with a stoppage-time equaliser at Harrogate Town, while AFC Fylde also drew, Salford are now two points clear as well as being unbeaten.

5. Plenty to do at Stalybridge Celtic
IF Steve Halford and Paul Phillips didn’t already know they had plenty to do at STALYBRIDGE then it will have dawned on them when they took charge on Monday.

Celtic’s new joint-managers had one last game in charge of Ashton United on Saturday before taking over the reins at Bower Fold and it was a miserable day all round as Ashton lost 3-0 at home to Nantwich in the FA Cup while Stalybridge slumped to a 4-0 home defeat against a Nuneaton Town side which were bottom of the National League North.

It was also the second home game running where Celtic have had a gate of less than 350 so as well as turning results around, the new managerial pair will be keen to lure the fans back. Their first game in charge is at home to Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday night.