Final countdown for non-League clubs

Avenue striker Chib Chilaka battles for possession with City defender James Meredith during the clubs' midweek friendly

Avenue striker Chib Chilaka battles for possession with City defender James Meredith during the clubs' midweek friendly

First published in Sport

FIVE of the local semi-professional clubs are in action this weekend on final practice Saturday, with many on the non-League divisions getting underway the following week.

Bradford Park Avenue travel to Witton Albion for their concluding friendly and boss John Deacey is looking forward to the contest.

The Evo-Stik League Premier Division side are just one promotion away from joining Avenue in the Conference North and Deacey said: "I think this game will give us a better idea of where we are.

"We have played four Football League clubs and two clubs from lower divisions in pre-season and, while they have been good games, they weren't the same test as this one will be."

Avenue beat Tadcaster Albion and Brighouse Town but have been beaten by all of the full-time outfits – Doncaster Rovers, Hartlepool United, Sheffield United and Bradford neighbours City.

The Blades sent an under-21s squad, while the Bantams fielded a host of trailists in their 3-0 midweek win at Horsfall Stadium.

Deacey said: "The Sheffield side were very good and even though they were young and relatively inexperienced, they are still full-time players.

"That was a decent game but I think we could have done better against City. I thought we were excellent for 43 minutes but we were slack for the final two minutes of the first half.

"We had eight players out as we arranged this at short notice but there were some positives from it. I thought Brad Barraclough did really well for us.

"We lost our way in the second half but they were a good side. If we had a full-strength side it could've been different. We missed characters across the park, so it's hard to judge.

"We will have most of our players back this weekend and I'm expecting it to throw up the types of challenge we will face when our league starts the following Saturday."

Another close match is expected at Throstle Nest, where Farsley – who play their football a division below Witton in Evo-Stik Division One North – and Guiseley cross swords in a local derby.

Farsley lost 4-3 at Garforth Town on Wednesday after romping to an 8-2 win at Hemsworth on Monday, so a goalless draw looks to be unlikely.

Guiseley go into the game on the back of sneaking a 1-0 win at Clitheroe on Tuesday night.

Lions boss Mark Bower is happy to be finishing the warm-up games with the short trip and, like Deacey, feels the game is the perfect final preparation for the Conference North campaign.

Bower said: “We have tried players in various positions and also adopted different formations. Some things have worked for us and others haven’t but the most important thing is that the players have all got game time.

“Farsley will give us the sort of match we need before we get down to the league action. We have a good idea of the formation we want to use and the way we want to play but there is still time for the players to stake a claim for a place.

“I am confident that we will have strong competition for places.”

Elsewhere, Thackley are at home to Yorkshire Amateur, while Liversedge host Worsborough Bridge Athletic.

Brighouse Town play tonight as they make their annual pre-season trip to face AFC Emley.

But for Silsden the friendlies are over as they host Abbey Hey with three Premier Division points up for grabs on the opening day of the North West Counties League campaign.

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