With the second lockdown now over and football being allowed to return, the ESPFA 2020/21 season is back with a full fixture list for #MatchweekFour. With teams having taken a month off due to the most recent lockdown, they will be fully rested and prepared for what will be a thrilling week of fixtures.
The key matchup for #MatchweekFour of the ESPFA 2020/21 campaign is in the Northern Division this week, where Witton Albion welcome Runcorn Linnets to Wincham Park.
These sides have already met once before this season, when they faced each other on the first match week of the campaign. Runcorn claimed the points on that occasion with a 2-1 victory, thanks to goals from Harvey Wood and Jacob Kenny. Despite winning the first game, Runcorn Linnets coach Sean Rowlinson will not be taking this game lightly. He said: “Witton were really strong when we played them previously and we're under no illusion, it is going to be another tough game. We're treating this like a completely new fixture which I believe is the best approach going into the game, considering the time in between the two fixtures and the likelihood that Witton will be stronger following the additional training sessions and time together, but it's a game we're looking forward to.”
Both of these sides will be eager to get back out on to the pitch and try and get some more points on the board, having not been in action since the 22nd October. Despite this, Runcorn Linnets student Alfie Phillips believes the long break and the second lockdown could help his teams fortunes. He said: “Obviously going into lockdown again wasn’t ideal but I think that it came at a good time for us to be honest, we’d just come off the back of a loss to Radcliffe, so we are looking to put this right with a win in our next fixture. The lockdown gave us a period of time to work on what we could’ve done better in the Radcliffe game and was almost like a second pre-season for us in which we could prepare for our next fixtures.”
Witton Albion were unlucky not to get there first points of the season in their last game against Ossett United. They were leading with around 10 minutes left to play but two late goals from Carl Clarkson snatched the points away from them and the game finished 4-3 in favour of Ossett. Witton Albion coach Martyn Irvine believes there were still some positives to take from the game. He said: “I’d say with the disruption we’ve had in terms of injuries and players having to self-isolate, the atmosphere was one of disappointment to lose the game obviously, especially from being in a winning position, however, there was a lot of positives to be taken from the game. Ossett were a different beast to Runcorn, so it’s been a great learning curve in our first two games for us to play against a pure footballing side and one at the opposite end of the footballing spectrum in the way of their direct play”.
The first game of the season between these two sides was a close affair, with multiple chances at both ends of the pitch. Either side could have won the game and the return fixture tomorrow is already a mouth-watering prospect. Witton Albion goalkeeper, Connor McCollum thinks that if his side cut out the mistakes and are more ruthless Infront of goal, they can claim the three points. He said: “Although we did have some positives out of that first game, we need to focus on cancelling out those silly mistakes that cost us the goals and could’ve cost us more if Runcorn were more clinical. However, I also believe we need to create and take our chances more and if we do this, I guarantee we’ll get the result we want.”
Mossley v Radcliffe
Two teams tied on four points and towards the business end of the table face each other this week as Mossley host Radcliffe. The teams have already met this season when Mossley came out on top with a 0-1 win. The whites will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten record so far and keep pace with the league leaders, Ossett United whereas Radcliffe will be out to get their revenge on their Greater Manchester rivals from the first game of the season.
Skelmersdale United v Brighouse Town
Skelmersdale United had to wait until the third week of the season to play their first game so will be raring to get their season off the ground. Their first and only game of the season saw them draw 2-2 against Radcliffe. Sitting on just one point from two games, Brighouse town will be eager to get their first win of the season.
Belper Town v Stafford Rangers
After a tough start to the season where Belper Town have come across both Mickleover teams, the difficult run continues as they face Midlands Division leaders Stafford Rangers. Stafford Rangers travel over to Derbyshire looking to extend their winning run to three games and will be hoping to maintain their position at the top of the table.
Mickleover (Red) v Carlton Town
Despite having played just one game, Mickleover (Red) are the highest scorers in the division after beating Belper Town 0-9 in their only game of the season. Carlton Town will be hoping to get their first points of the season after they were beaten by Rushall Olympic in their only game of the season.
Rushall Olympic (Black) v Mickleover (Black)
With both of these teams sitting in the middle of the table on three points, having won one game and lost one, this is guaranteed to be an entertaining match. Rushall Olympic (Black) were narrowly defeated in their first game of the season by a strong Stafford Rangers side but hit back in the next game when they put seven past Carlton in their most recent outing. Mickleover (Black) were also defeated by Stafford Rangers when they met before the lockdown but started the season well with a win against Belper Town.
Chesham United v Frome Town
The Southern Division leaders Chesham United have been impressive in the opening stages of the campaign, having won two close games against Kidlington and Rushall Olympic (Amber) and will be hoping to make it three wins out of three on Thursday. Frome Town have only played one game so far this season in which they lost at the hands of Swindon Supermarine so will be looking to get their first points of the campaign.
Kidlington v Rushall Olympic (Amber)
Having only played one game so far this season in which they were beaten by Chesham United, Kidlington welcome Rushall Olympic (Amber) to Yarnton Road. Rushall have also been struggling for results at the start of the season having lost their two opening games of the season so far. With both sides looking for their first points of the 2020/21 campaign, this game is sure to be a thriller.
Swindon Supermarine v Yate Town
Yate Town make the trip across to Swindon on Thursday where two teams who have got off to a winning start face off against each other. Swindon made a great start to the campaign by beating Frome Town 1-5 away from home in their season opener but haven’t been able to get back on the pitch since. Yate Town also won their season opener against Rushall so both teams will be seeking a victory to keep up with the pace setters at Chesham United.