Stalybridge Celtic captain Matty Hughes

They couldn’t, could they? Stalybridge Celtic boost National League North survival hopes with win of the weekend

ANOTHER weekend in the National League North and another series of twists and turns.

Just 3 weeks remain in the regular season and we’re still no nearer to knowing who will be in the play-offs. The relegation battle is still not over and suddenly the identity of the league champions is no longer a sure thing.

Second-bottom STALYBRIDGE CELTIC capped off a brilliant week by pulling off the result of the weekend, upsetting league leaders AFC Fylde 2-1. That made it 7 points from 9 for Bridge and kept alive their survival hopes.

It also gave Kidderminster hope of catching Fylde, who at one stage looked like they’d run away with the league title. The Harriers are back within 6 points of top spot and have a game in hand – at Stalybridge on Tuesday night.

Kiddy were in the same situation 2 weeks ago, after Fylde’s 4-1 defeat at Nuneaton, but now the Coasters have lost 2 of their last 3 – and won just 1 of their last 5. That’s more than a blip and does make you wonder if the big-spenders have ‘bottled it’.

At the other end of the table, ALTRINCHAM were relegated last week but Stalybridge still have a chance of pulling off a Great Escape. They couldn’t, could they?

Bridge were 15 points from safety before their win over Bradford Park Avenue on March 14. After losing to AFC Telford on March 28 that gap was back to 15 points – with just 9 games left.

But Steve Burr’s men have revived their survival hopes over the last week, following up last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at FC United with a 2-0 win at Alfreton on Tuesday night. Danny Wisdom then gave Bridge a 23rd-minute lead against Fylde on Saturday and although Danny Rowe equalised shortly after, Danny Pilkington scored what proved to be the winner on 55 minutes.

Celtic are now 8 points off 4th-bottom Worcester with 2 games in hand, the first of which is against Kidderminster. That’s the only midweek game in non-league’s 2nd tier and given it will have implications at both ends of the table, many outsiders will be following events at Bower Fold tomorrow night.

In the race for the play-offs, both SALFORD CITY and Chorley dropped points on Saturday, with the Ammies having to settle for a 3-3 draw at Harrogate Town after conceding 3 late penalties, while Chorley were held 1-1 at Nuneaton.

That allowed Darlington to climb into 5th place after beating Tamworth 3-2, although STOCKPORT COUNTY are level on points with Darlo and Chorley – just one behind 4th-placed Salford – after Danny Lloyd’s 56th-minute penalty gave the Hatters a 1-0 win at Gainsborough Trinity.

They all have just 4 games left, and as they’re playing twice over Easter, you can bet there will be a few more twists and turns this weekend too.