CAMPION'S joint-manager Lee Ashforth is returning to a club close to his heart today, but for once, he is hoping they suffer defeat.

The Red and Blacks visit Harrogate Railway Athletic in Division One of the Northern Counties East League this weekend.

Ashforth spent 10 years at the North Yorkshire club as a goalkeeper, assistant manager and manager, and says he still talks to their club secretary regularly.

But his loyalties very much lie with Campion now.

Ashforth said: "Harrogate are a very good side. Every week we seem to be saying to the lads that it's their biggest test of the season so far, but I think this one is.

"They've just re-signed Dan Thirkell from Knaresborough. He was my captain when I was Harrogate manager and he's a really good player.

"They've also still got an excellent defender in Mike Morris from my time there.

"It will be good to catch up with everyone. I spent 10 years with them as a player, assistant and finally manager, and a lot of my heart is still there.

"I always say it was my best time, playing there, and I still speak to their club secretary regularly.

"They've had a rocky couple of seasons, getting relegated then struggling in Division One last year, but they now seem to be taking a step in the right direction.

"Hopefully we can get the result against them this weekend, and then they'll go on to do well against everyone else.

"You tend to leave a club with a sense of bitterness but there's none of that from me. I wish them all the best."

Harrogate did brilliantly to beat Premier Division side Thackley last weekend to advance into the FA Vase First Round.

But Campion suffered a bruising defeat, going down 4-0 at home to Sunderland Ryhope CW.

Ashforth said: "Sunderland were a really good side but there wasn't much in it for the first 35 minutes.

"Then our left back and their right winger got sent off, and that affected us more than them.

"We had to change shape and in the second half they ran away with it. It was just damage limitation by the last 20 minutes.

"I hate football cliches but the league has always been the priority.

"Sunderland was always going to be a difficult game but we said to the lads it was about how we reacted on Wednesday. We didn't want to lose two in a row as that starts to dent confidence."

And Campion did react on Wednesday, with a fine 4-1 win over Swallownest sending them back to the Division One summit.

Ashforth said: "We had a couple of injuries and it was the first time we'd been behind in a league game all season.

"But we showed togetherness and didn't panic. I think it was our best performance of the season in the end.

"We'd been dropping off in the last 20 minutes of games, but we kept pushing until the end of this one."

Up in the NCEL Premier Division today, Thackley host Handsworth, while Eccleshill United entertain Hemsworth Miners Welfare.

Albion Sports travel to Grimsby Borough, Silsden go to Maltby Main, while Liversedge will be hosting Ashton Athletic in their re-arranged FA Vase Second Qualifying Round tie.

Brighouse Town visit Kendal Town in the FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round, while Steeton are away to Cleator Moor Celtic in the North West Counties League First Division North.