Derby delight for non-league fans on a busy Boxing Day programme

JUST two more sleeps till Christmas. But never mind that, it’s just three more till the traditional Boxing Day fixtures.

There’s a full programme of games up and down the land and plenty of excuses to get away from the family for the afternoon, especially in Greater Manchester.

While the Football League tried to give sides a local fixture, they’re by no means derby games. For those you need to look no further than non-league. Virtually everywhere you look there’s a mouth-watering derby duel right on your doorstep.

As for the EFL, WIGAN travel to fellow Championship strugglers Rotherham looking to end a four-match losing streak while League One high-flyers BOLTON host Shrewsbury aiming to bounce back from a surprise defeat at Chesterfield.

That allowed the Spireites climb above both Bury and Oldham, dumping the Shakers into the relegation zone for the first time this season while Latics are now bottom. BURY make the short trip to Fleetwood on the back of a club-record 12-match losing streak while OLDHAM, themselves seven league games without a win, have a tough trip to second-placed Sheffield United.

ROCHDALE are eight points behind the Blades in fifth after Matty Lund’s hat-trick gave them a 3-2 win at Northampton last week and they host Chesterfield. Dale have won their last eight home games in League One although Chesterfield did win at the Crown Oil Arena in the Check-a-trade Trophy just over two weeks ago.

In the National League, MACCLESFIELD visit second-placed Tranmere looking to close the gap on the play-off places, and the proper derby games begin in the National League North.

Rock-bottom ALTRINCHAM have a festive double-header against mid-table FC UNITED, with Alty at home on Boxing Day and FC the hosts on New Year’s Day. Second-bottom STALYBRIDGE CELTIC host Tameside rivals CURZON ASHTON before the Nash, who are 15th, welcome Celtic on Monday, January 2 (3pm kick-off).

STOCKPORT COUNTY and SALFORD CITY are joint-seventh and both face Yorkshire opposition, with County visiting Harrogate Town while the Ammies host Bradford Park Avenue.

Just up the road in RADCLIFFE, Boro host RAMSBOTTOM UNITED in the Evo-Stik North and hope for a big gate as they continue to recover from the arson attack which gutted their main stand earlier this month. League rivals DROYLSDEN welcome HYDE UNITED while MOSSLEY make the short trip to Glossop and TRAFFORD, who have climbed to third in the table, travel to Colwyn Bay.

ASHTON UNITED have slipped to 16th in the Evo-Stik Premier and aim to arrest their slump at home to Warrington Town. Thumbs up to the comedy genius who has dubbed it the Ikea derby!

But the derby games don’t end in the Evo-Stik. CHEADLE TOWN host STOCKPORT TOWN in the North West Counties First Division on Boxing Day while North West Counties side WEST DIDSBURY & CHORLTON have moved their South Manchester derby with MAINE ROAD back to Tuesday, December 27 (3pm kick-off).

Whichever game you choose for your festive footy fix, make sure you wrap up warm. Hope you have a great Christmas and enjoy the game!