Shaymen come face to face with closest rivals

Two of the Evo Stik Premier Division’s more frustrated sides meet at the Shay tonight.

The Shaymen travelled all the way to Whitby on Saturday only to discover that their scheduled clash on the east coast had been called off.

And they now face a second trip, this time in midweek, before the season comes to an end.

Worksop also had another match postponed due to the weather when the pitch at their temporary Retford home was declared unfit.

And that denied them the opportunity to close the gap on the Shaymen.

I say close the gap, but Worksop would need to win all four of their games in hand just to get to within 10 points of Neil Aspin’s side.

Remarkably, that makes them the Shaymen’s main challengers at the top of the table.

Second placed Matlock are 11 adrift having played a game more with Colwyn Bay a further game and two points behind.

And Buxton, who had been regarded as challengers along with Worksop, suffered defeat at Ashton at the weekend meaning they would still be 13 points behind Town even if they win their two games in hand.

The fact the likes of North Ferriby, Marine and FC United of Manchester have forced their way into the play-off frame will help the Shaymen in the coming weeks.

With up to 10 sides battling it out for the four play off places immediately behind the Shaymen there will be dropped points from Town’s challengers almost every weekend between now and April 25.

Of course, even if teams win their games in hand they still have to rely on Town slipping up themselves in the remaining weeks of the campaign.

The Shaymen would have to lose three games at least to be brought back to the chasing pack and given that they have only lost three of their first 27 it is unlikely they will lose another three in the remaining 15.

They went close to losing at Worksop just a couple of weeks ago, Tom Baker firing home the equalising goal from the penalty spot with 10 minutes remaining.

But that was on a pitch that has already thrown in the towel for the season given the amount of games it was scheduled to host and still have to be played because of the poor weather we have had for the past three months or so.

The Shay surface will offer Town the chance to play their football and if they can reproduce the kind of form they showed at Nantwich seven days ago it will be highly entertaining - and provide yet another victory on the road to the title.