Nick Powell

It’s over to Salford and Stockport after Nick Powell hat-trick sees Wigan get Easter weekend off to a cracking start

WIGAN kicked off the Easter weekend in style last night. Now the onus is on our National League North promotion hopefuls to make it a Good Friday.

Wigan hosted Barnsley in the Championship and trailed to goals either side of half-time by Adam Armstrong and Ryan Kent. But Powell then replaced Gabriel Obertan on 66 minutes and pulled one back with a 71st-minute free-kick.

The former Man United forward struck again just a minute later before converting an 82nd-minute penalty to cap an 11-minute hat-trick and seal a crucial 3-2 win. That sent Latics above Blackburn in the bottom 3 and put them 4 points from safety, before 4th-bottom Bristol City host QPR this afternoon.

Meanwhile, a Callum Camps free-kick saw ROCHDALE win 1-0 at derby rivals BURY to put Keith Hill’s men within 3 points of the League One play-off places before their fellow promotion hopefuls play today.

There’s another League One derby tomorrow as lowly OLDHAM host promotion-chasing BOLTON, but today’s best action will take place in the National League North.

If SALFORD CITY are going to claim a play-off place then they’re doing it the hard way. The Ammies have been in the top 5 for months but now have just a point’s breathing space. Last Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Harrogate Town means they’ve won just 1 of their last 5 so they aim to get back to winning ways at Gainsborough Trinity today.

STOCKPORT COUNTY won 1-0 at Gainsborough last Saturday to move within a point of Salford but they remain 7th, level on points with Chorley and Darlington. Salford and Stockport were handed a boost this week with Darlo being told that, due to ground-grading issues, they cannot compete in the play-offs (unless they have a successful appeal). And today the Hatters have the added bonus of knowing how Salford and Chorley got on before they welcome AFC Telford to Edgeley Park tonight (7.45pm kick-off).

CURZON ASHTON are comfortable in 12th place and host already-relegated ALTRINCHAM this afternoon before FC UNITED, who are 14th, host Brackley tomorrow. But all eyes will be on STALYBRIDGE CELTIC.

Steve Burr’s men have taken 10 points from a possible 12 to keep their survival hopes, beating the top 2 in their last 2 games, and they aim to take another step towards a potential Great Escape away to Gloucester City.

Despite booking their place in the FA Trophy final, MACCLESFIELD TOWN haven’t given up their National League campaign. The Silkmen beat Maidstone 3-0 in midweek to make to 3 wins from 4 and move within 6 points of the play-off places. They visit relegation-threatened Woking today hoping to close the gap even more.

ASHTON UNITED are destined to finish mid-table in the Evo-Stik Premier but can get an idea of the standards they need to set next season as tomorrow they host a Blyth Spartans side which has already been crowned champions.

Like Salford, TRAFFORD are clinging onto a play-off place after winning just 1 of their last 5 in the Evo-Stik North. They don’t play tomorrow so hope results elsewhere don’t push them out of the top 5 before they host Colwyn Bay on Easter Monday.

A 6-match unbeaten run has pushed HYDE UNITED up to 10th and the Tigers visit Tadcaster Albion tomorrow. DROYLSDEN have also been in good form, taking 7 points from 9 including 6-1 and 4-0 wins, but they host 2nd-placed Lancaster City.

MOSSLEY need one more point to be safe as they host Kendal Town while RADCLIFFE BOROUGH and RAMSBOTTOM UNITED are hoping for as high a finish as possible as they host Brighouse Town and visit Goole, respectively.

And the best local game in the North West Counties League either today or tomorrow is in the First Division, with STOCKPORT TOWN welcoming fellow mid-table outfit CHEADLE TOWN to Woodley (1pm kick-off).