North West Counties Football League Division One North Ellesmere Rangers 0

FC Oswestry Town 1

A HARD-FOUGHT local derby ended in second-placed in FC Oswestry maintaining their promotion hopes, while Ellesmere’s relegation worries deepened.

But in truth, there was not that much to choose between the sides who as well as contesting each other, had to battle against a capricious wind which made the simplest of tasks fiendishly difficult.

In the end it was settled by a Steve Evans header just 10 minutes from time, rising to power home a free-kick inside the left-hand post.

But Oswestry should have been out of sight in the second half, squandering several gilt-edged chances particularly in the second half and even managed to miss a penalty.

Both sides started brightly with Oswestry having penalty claims for a foul on Asa Hamilton waved away by referee Nigel Usher, and Kevin Renshaw clipping the ball just over the bar after tricking Oswestry’s full back Chris Craven.

Louis Bradford was next to spurn chances for Oswestry firing well wide as Rangers defender George Durrell challenged in the penalty area.

Despite Oswestry’s profusion of chances it was Rangers who came closest to scoring when Tawanda Melusi collected a long pass and flicked the ball towards goal with the outside of his foot, only to see the ball roll against the post and out for a goal kick.

Just before the interval Ashley Spithelhouse saved Rangers again blocking a close-range Hamilton effort after good work by Liam Parry had fashioned an opportunity.

The second half saw more concerted Oswestry pressure and they should have taken the lead when Craig Pritchard was sent tumbling in the box mid-way through the half.

Hamilton stepped up but his kick, although powerfully struck, was much too close to Spitalhouse in the home goal and he turned it aside with Louis Bradford missing a headed chance from the resulting corner.

While Oswestry squandered several chances St Martins created only one when Dave Howarth was put clear but, hindered by the stiff breeze, he played the ball too far in front and allowed Oswestry keeper Mason Springthorpe to come out and block his delayed effort.

But that was the nearest they came, and once Oswestry took the lead in the 79th minute, they spurned further opportunities to put the game to bed with Harry Bower lashing two presentable chances into the side netting in quick succession as the game entered its final phase.

And as the game drew to a close, Rangers were unable to find an opening to salvage a point, leaving Town to take the victory.

Big games are coming up for both sides, who will be fighting tooth and nail for different reasons as the season draws to a close.

With Town looking without much hope of clinching the title, they will be fighting hard to ensure they secure promotion.

They face AFC Liverpool in the first leg of their Cup semi-final tie on Saturday, before returning to league action against West Didsbury & Chorlton on Tuesday, March 17 (kick-off 7.45pm).

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Rangers host another local derby, this time against St Martins – the only side below them in the table.

Kick-off at Beech Grove is at 3pm.

North East Wales Football League Premier Division

Chirk Town 9

Bellevue FC 2

CHIRK Town showed the gulf in class between the sides near the top and bottom of the North East Wales Football League Premier Division table, as they scored nine goals past bottom-of-the-table side Bellevue FC on Saturday.

The Taverners hosted a Bellevue side rooted to the bottom-of-the-table with no points on the board, and showed no sympathy as they stormed to a six-goal lead in the first half.

A slightly slower second half saw Town score three goals, and also saw a valiant effort from the visitors to pull back two goals.

The victory once again highlighted Chirk’s title intentions, with the side just one point behind league leaders Brymbo Victoria, with a game in hand still to play.

Opening the scoring for the hosts was Tristan Lloyd, with an unusual goal in the fifth minute.

Lloyd swung a corner into the penalty area, and watched on as it curled straight into the net without being touched by any other players.

His goal sparked a memorable first half performance for Town, with Anthony Jones showing what he can do when he is at his best to get a first-half hat-trick.

A fifth goal came through Caleb Davies who fired home comfortably from inside the penalty area, before skipper Matthew Cooke added a sixth goal before half-time.

It was a slower start to the second half for Chirk, who missed chances to extend their lead to seven goals early on.

However, Tom Freeman’s penalty eventually got them another goal, before Shaun Morris added an eighth goal for the Taverners.

A second goal for Freeman rounded off the scoring for Chirk, but Bellevue showed great will to find the net twice through Brandon Griffiths and Joao Da Silva to reduce the deficit.

Victory for Chirk means they remain second and are breathing down the necks of Brymbo who currently lead the way having played one game more.

Chirk will turn their focus away from the league on Saturday when they face CPD Sychdyn at home in the President’s Cup (kick-off 1.30pm).

North West Counties Football League Division One South

St Martins 1

Stone Old Alleynians 4

ST MARTINS remain rooted to the bottom of the North West Counties Football League Division One South table after suffering another loss at the weekend when they hosted Stone Old Alleynians.

Saints took the lead in the match for just one minute in the first half, before the visitors equalised.

The second half saw Alleynians grab three goals to put themselves out of St Martins’ reach.

Jamie Smith’s opener came in the 38th minute of the afternoon, but Matthew Thomas pulled a goal back for his side in the 39th minute.

The hosts seemed to be holding on, but a poor three-minute spell saw them concede two goals, scored by William Bailey and Jack Tomlinson.

With 10 minutes left to play, William Byers added a fourth for his team, putting a three-goal gap between the two sides and all-but confirming victory for Alleynians.

The result means St Martins are still seven points from safety and remain in last place.

They now have just nine games left to turn things around and avoid relegation.

St Martins face Ellesmere Rangers in a huge clash on Saturday.