Ally Brown celebrates

Evo-Stik League: Trafford aim to maintain home support as promotion race nears the finish

MANAGER Tom Baker is eager to keep the feelgood factor going as TRAFFORD approach the end of the Evo-Stik North promotion race.

With 4 games left, Trafford are 3rd in the table with a 6-point buffer inside the play-off places, but everyone else in the league has at least one game in hand. Their next 3 games are at home, where gates have gradually improved this season. Trafford’s average attendance is 244, with their highest being 348 for the 1-1 draw against Droylsden in January.

And although Baker doesn’t see home advantage as being that important to results, he knows that some strong showings at Shawe View will ensure his side have even more support during the run-in and potentially the play-offs.

“The gates have been brilliant the last few home games,” he told Beyond the Big Two. “We’ve been getting as many as I can remember. We’ve been getting over 300 and when me and (assistant boss) Chris Shuker came into the job (in May 2015), it was in the low 100’s so that’s really positive.

“Our away form’s actually been better than our home form, not that our home form’s been disastrous by any means. I don’t read too much into games being away our at home. But if you’re getting good crowds at home then you’ve got to be putting on good performances and getting good results, otherwise they won’t continue to come, so hopefully we can stay in good form towards the end of the season and keep those gates up.”

Top of the Evo-Stik North
Top of the Evo-Stik North table

With Ossett Albion, Kendal Town and Colwyn Bay all due at Shawe View, those home games are all against sides in the bottom half, but Baker has warned his side not to take anything for granted.

“It’s going to be tough, there’s only 4 games to go so it’s crunch time and that can be difficult,” he added. “The last 4 games are all winnable but at the same time they’re are lose-able if we don’t perform.

“When you get to this stage of the season, the teams that are playing for something, be it promotion or relegation, there’s a certain amount of pressure, as much as you try to play it down. Players at this level, I’m sure they do feel it.

“The top 2 is probably sewn up – Lancaster and Farsley – so the next 3 places are all up for grabs. There’s probably 5 or 6 teams that are gunning for them and there’s a lot that can happen in 4 games.

“We’re only thinking about getting enough points on the board to secure a place in the top 5. We’ve been in there since probably November so the important thing is just to make sure we make the play-offs.”
Tom Baker during a rare appearance for Trafford

After being held to a 2-2 draw at home by RAMSBOTTOM UNITED, Trafford lost 4-3 at Tadcaster but bounced back with a 2-0 win at Rammy last Saturday, with defender Ryan Ellison making his debut after arriving on loan from Stockport County. Trafford winger Jack Dorney remains out for tomorrow’s visit of Ossett Albion but Chris Palmer and Craig Lindfield could come back into contention.

“Up to the last 3 weeks Rammy were really pushing and looking like they could maybe make a late run and sneak into the play-offs” Baker said. “But they’ve had a few bad results and a points deduction, which killed them. We should have beaten them the previous week so it was a much-needed win for us on Saturday.

“We beat Ossett 6-0 away in November and it was a really good performance. Having said that, after 25 minutes they could have been one or two goals to the good. They’re quite inconsistent so if we perform like we can I’d expect us to win but if we don’t we could come unstuck.”

Rammy were then beaten 4-0 at home by Scarborough in midweek, leaving them 13th. Had they not been deducted 4 points for fielding an ineligible player, they’d be level with 10th-placed HYDE UNITED, who they visit tomorrow.

DROYLSDEN are a point below Rammy after thumping 6th-placed Ossett Town 6-1 last Saturday but they have a tough game at joint-leaders Farsley while 5th-bottom MOSSLEY host Scarborough. RADCLIFFE BOROUGH aim to warm up for Tuesday’s Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final with a win at home to Ossett Town.

ASHTON UNITED can concentrate on their final Evo-Stik Premier fixtures after losing 2-1 at Bamber Bridge in the Integro League Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night. The Robins are 14th in the table and host 5th-bottom Corby.