THE timing was purely coincidental. Being a relative newbie to Manchester’s non-league football scene, I had no idea of the history between TRAFFORD and Glossop North End as I made my first-ever trip to Shawe View on Tuesday night.
This season the two sides are set to battle it out for promotion from the Evo-Stik North, but as I took some respite from the cold and had a nosey around Trafford’s club bar, I saw that this was a reunion of a more memorable clash just down the road.
Almost 30 years ago, Trafford played Glossop in the Manchester Premier Cup final. When Trafford reached the 1995 final, losing 2-1 to Hyde United, it was held at Oldham. In 1996 it was at Bolton and in 1998, Glossop beat Curzon Ashton at Maine Road. But in 1997, the Manchester Premier Cup final was held at Old Trafford so it was the biggest night in Trafford’s short history.
A side featuring the likes of Stuart Coburn, Garry Vaughan and Jody Banim had just been promoted from the North West Counties League (there is also a picture of the side that beat Salford City 6-1 a few weeks earlier to ensure Trafford finished top of Division One and Salford finished bottom – how times change!) But on that night at the home of Man United, Glossop denied Trafford a league and cup double as they won on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
This season Trafford bowed out of the Premier Cup at the first hurdle – on penalties at Abbey Hey – while Glossop were beaten in the quarter-finals by WEST DIDSBURY & CHORLTON. In another coincidence, the NWCFL side’s semi-final tie was on Tuesday and it also happened to be one of the biggest nights in their history as they were away to FC UNITED (more on that later).
But at Shawe View, it was all about league commitments as the old rivals locked horns again. Since renewing their rivalry following Glossop’s promotion to the Evo-Stik in 2015, Trafford were yet to win in 3 league meetings with North End.
Tom Baker’s men had won 3-0 at Burscough on Saturday to go 18 unbeaten in the league while Glossop had lost their previous 2 so they were confident of finally getting one over North End and keeping the pressure on league leaders Lancaster City.
Lee Neville fired in from an early corner on Saturday and almost repeated the feat from Liam Brownhill’s delivery but this time the left-back’s volley was blocked by Glossop captain Anthony Griffith. Yet that was as good as it got for Trafford in a disjointed first-half performance.
Glossop began to take charge with Max Leonard’s free-kick deflected over, and from the resulting corner, a header by ex-Hyde centre-half Adam Jones was saved by Terry Smith. Mike Norton showed a touch of the class which made him a prolific striker for FC United as he tried two speculative efforts from outside the box; the first going just wide, the second held by Smith.
And moments later the Hillmen had grabbed a 20th-minute opener as Trafford centre-half Josh Granite went to cut out Leonard’s through-ball only to miscue his clearance. That allowed forward Astley Mulholland, who made his name up the road at the new-defunct Flixton, to go clean through and he drew Smith out of goal before squaring for Leonard to tap into an empty net. Trafford have now fallen behind in their last 5 home games so have become slow-starters at Shawe View.
Andy Keogh, another former Flixton man, was making his first start after being signed from Mossley last week and although he was proving a nuisance behind the strikers, the hosts’ attacking players were struggling to link up.
Ex-Trafford midfielder Martyn Andrews rejoined Glossop from West Didsbury & Chorlton in January and he helped North End win the midfield battle. Trafford’s defence was also wasteful in possession and the players’ frustration began to show. Even captain Granite was singled out for an ear bashing from Baker on the touchline.
The Trafford boss made his feelings known by hauling off Luke Horrocks and top scorer Aaron Burns at half-time, with Chris Palmer and Kingsley Williams coming on for the restart. But the hosts’ bid to start the 2nd half strongly was hampered by the temporary loss of Granite, who left the field for a few minutes after suffering a blow to the face and, because of the blood, the ex-Mossley man ultimately wore 3 different numbers during the game – 6, 19 and 18.
Mulholland spurned a great chance as he scuffed a close-range effort, while Trafford’s Andy Langford volleyed over from distance. Baker then made his final change on 59 minutes – Jonah Gosling replacing Ash Woods up front – so they were determined to get back in the game.
But Glossop sub Mark Reed headed wide from a free-kick by left-back Paul Dugdale, whose dead-ball deliveries were superb throughout, before Trafford finally managed to build some pressure late on. Neville and Granite had efforts cleared off the line in quick succession while Keogh did well to bring the ball down in the box and get a shot away, only for keeper Matt Cooper to make a good low save.
Smith denied both sub Karl Jones and Mulholland as Glossop broke during the closing stages and although Cooper charged out of goal as the game went into stoppage time, Trafford winger Ally Brown’s chip from out wide was in hope of it going in, rather than expectation, and Jones recovered to head it clear.
So it already felt like it wasn’t going to be Trafford’s night as they won successive corners at the death, from which they failed to force a last-gasp equaliser and keep their unbeaten run going.
Glossop have become somewhat of a bogey side for 3rd-placed Trafford and not only did they stop them from going back into 2nd place, North End are now 5th – 5 points behind Trafford with 2 games in hand.
Baker will therefore hope his side can get back to winning ways when they face another old foe this Saturday as they host mid-table Hyde, who beat them in the 1995 Premier Cup final.
As for this year’s final, FC UNITED will feature in it for the first time after they ruthlessly disposed of West. There are 3 divisions between the sides and the Rebels made it tell as they led 4-1 by half-time before running out 7-1 winners, with Jason Gilchrist and Matt Wolfenden both scoring a hat-trick.
FC will face one of their National League North rivals in the final, with Stalybridge Celtic hosting Salford City in the other semi-final next Tuesday (February 14). The date and venue for the final are yet to be confirmed but I think it’s safe to say that FC United won’t be rewarded with an unlikely appearance at Old Trafford. Now that would be a story!