Warrington Town’s title rivals South Shields were the big winners when North Ferriby United’s demise was confirmed by the Northern Premier League at the weekend.
In a statement, the league confirmed that all of North Ferriby’s playing records from this season will be expunged, costing Warrington six points and nine goals and current leaders Farsley Celtic six points and 10 goals.
South Shields benefited, having lost to North Ferriby earlier in the season, meaning they move up to second in the table with seven to play.
A lot has been said about whether it is fair or not, but the reality is that expunging North Ferriby’s record is the best and cleanest way to do things, as well as being in the league’s rules and following the FA’s guidelines.
If the shoe had been on the other foot, I’m sure that anyone associated with Warrington would have agreed that this is the best course of action.
On this occasion, they are just unfortunate that they are one of the clubs losing out.
The only other realistic suggestion – to award walkover wins to North Ferriby’s remaining opponents – is even more unfair, and it’s difficult to retain the goal difference earned from games which technically no longer exist – though I do have sympathy with Paul Carden’s well made points about Shaw Lane keeping their goal difference from a game in which they fielded an ineligible player last season and were deducted three points.
Ultimately, Warrington need to focus on themselves now and the reality is they will probably need to win all seven of their remaining games if they are to win the title and earn promotion to National League North.
The play-offs look like a daunting prospect, and at worst, you’d want to enter them with some momentum.
The most favourable situation for the Yellows, if they don’t win the league that is, is to finish second which at least guarantees a home play-off semi-final and final, and they would probably prefer if South Shields went up as champions, though they have beaten the north east side twice this season.
Buxton, who benefited from the demise of North Ferriby too, are now up to the play-off places and they could be the dark horses in the play-off series should they make it. Warrington have still got to visit Buxton in the league, and only beat them at home thanks to a remarkable late turnaround at Christmas.
Warrington welcome play-off chasing Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday looking to bounce back from successive disappointments to Stafford Rangers.
Farsley Celtic: Stalybridge Celtic (H – Mar 30), Buxton (A – Apr 6), Grantham Town (A – Apr 13), Hyde United (H – Apr 20), Whitby Town (A – Apr 22), Marine (H – Apr 27), Stafford Rangers (H – TBC)
South Shields: Marine (A – Mar 30), Hednesford Town (H – Apr 6), Basford United (H – Apr 13), Stafford Rangers (A – Apr 20), Scarborough Athletic (H – Apr 22), Gainsborough Trinity (A – Apr 27), Workington (A – TBC)
Warrington Town: Gainsborough Trinity (H – Mar 30), Matlock Town (A – Apr 6), Scarborough Athletic (H – Apr 13), Stalybridge Celtic (A – Apr 20), Witton Albion (H – Apr 22), Buxton (A – Apr 27), Whitby (H – TBC)