Sleaford Town FC
Sat 30 Mar 2024  ·  Premier Division North
Ashby Ivanhoe
Sleaford Town Football Club
Sleaford Town FC
F Armond (37'), A Francis (87')

Match Preview

Oliver Atkin28 Mar - 14:26
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Sleaford Town contest the first part of an Easter weekend double-header on Saturday afternoon when they travel to face Ashby Ivanhoe in United Counties League Premier Division North action – kick-off, 3PM.


The Match Background

The Greens will travel to Farley Way, the home of Quorn AFC, and the temporary home of Ashby Ivanhoe, to contest their penultimate away fixture of the campaign - a result of weather-related issues at Ivanhoe’s NFU Sports Ground. It is just a couple of weeks short of year since the Greens were last at Farley Way, meeting Quorn on the back of a club-record 14-game unbeaten run but there is no-such feel-good-factor this time around with the Greens play-off hopes firmly hanging by the thinnest of threads. It was not quite the terminal blow, but Wednesday evenings 2-0 reversal at the hands of in-form Boston Town was certainly a significant hit and left the Greens nine points short of Skegness Town in fifth with just four games left to play. It all means that the Greens will need a flawless Easter weekend – and hope Skegness slip up themselves – if they are not to have their fate sealed by the time they welcome Eastwood Community to The MKM Ground next weekend. Six from six will be no mean feat either with relegation-threatened Pinchbeck United to follow on Tuesday evening after Saturday’s clash with the Knights. Just two points and a place behind the Greens in the Premier Division North table – Ivanhoe still harbour slim play-off hopes of their own, though their chances also took a midweek hit with a 3-2 reversal at the hands of lowly AFC Mansfield. So, with both sides wounded and both sides desperate to keep their campaigns alive for another week – it is an absolute must win for either side. Sparks will fly…

Team News

Player/Managers Tom Ward and Nathan Arnold will be expected to make adjustments following such a lacklustre performance against the Poachers on Wednesday evening. One guaranteed change will see duel-registered Ollie Brown-Hill return to parent club Stamford AFC after picking up a knock 10-minutes into his Greens bow on Wednesday evening. Tom Ward himself returned to central defence on Wednesday in the place of Latrell Patterson while Kyle Watkins also made a welcome return from a stop-start spell of injury. Jake Henderson could well stake a claim to be back involved this weekend after recovering from knee issue picked up at Hucknall Town in early February while Finlay Armond’s continued involvement will come down to whether parent club Matlock Town wishes to utilise his services this weekend. Ward will check on the fitness of Issa Gaye who picked up a knock against AFC Mansfield last weekend and subsequently missed Wednesday’s defeat at the hands of Boston Town while Ward’s fellow Player/Manager Nathan Arnold could be involved – himself fit again after picking up an injury following the reverse of this fixture last month.

The Opposition

A significant fixture backlog has become the story of Ashby Ivanhoe’s inaugural season at step five, with the club now being forced to play games at Quorn AFC’s Farley Way Stadium rather than at their own NFU Sports Ground home. In that sense it has been a frustrating season for the Knights who now have not played on home turf since defeating Easington Sports in the United Counties League Knockout Cup back on November 25th. Following that the club played their next eight fixtures away from home stretching into February before the league urged a contingency plan which has since seen Ivanhoe play nine of their last twelve games at their new temporary ‘home.’ They’ll see out the campaign at Farley Way before a summer of recuperation and improvements will hopefully see the Knights able to play out a full campaign at the NFU next season.

They’ll head into that full of confidence though after an impressive campaign on the field that has seen the side smash a series of club records. They’ll enjoy a best ever finish by debuting this season at step five no matter where they end up, though they look more than likely to mark it with a top-10 Premier Division North finish. Six straight wins – including a 2-0 victory over the Greens – last month propelled them to within sniffing distance of the play-offs and with so many games remaining in hand at the time, Ivanhoe were firmly in the mix. They have since followed that run though with just one win in six – a 4-1 triumph over Belper United – as their play-off hopes faded much like the Greens they face on Saturday. Defeats in that time to Hucknall Town and to AFC Mansfield will particularly rankle, with both opponents ending significant losing streaks at the Knights expense. They still have slim chances of making the play-offs themselves though like the Greens, they find themselves firmly in now-or-never territory meaning both sides hold the power to knock another rival out of the race this weekend.

The Knights have married that competent league showing by enjoying strong cup runs across the campaign, including a run in the FA Vase that saw them reach the fourth round before falling to Midland League outfit Stourport Swifts. The reached the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round too, running step three side Bromsgrove Sporting close while they are also one of the four United Counties League Knockout Cup semi-finalists – their tie with Division One side Saffron Dynamo due to take place during the final midweek of the campaign. The winners of that clash will set-up a meeting with either Skegness Town or Lincoln United who convene for their semi-final during the same week. Silverware would be the perfect end to a dream opening campaign at step five then for the Knights who could also scoop personal accolades come the final day of the campaign, not least in the form of striker Sam Grouse who’s incredible 39 league goals makes him the leagues top-scorer, some seven strikes clear of 2nd placed Craig Westcarr. He’s taken much of the goalscoring burden for the Knights this season with nine goal Chris Acott the clubs second highest scorer ahead of long serving Will Groocock and exciting winger Joel Carta.

Previous Meetings

Saturday’s contest will be just a second ever meeting between the two sides following the Knights 2-0 victory at The MKM Ground last month. The Greens never really got going on a cold and damp midweek night with goals in each half from Sam Grouse and Will Mansfield doing the damage in front of eighty-four spectators at Eslaforde Park.

The Match Details

Admission to Farley Way (LE12 8RB) on Saturday afternoon is priced at £7 for adults and £4 for concessions with under-sixteen’s free (alongside a paying adult). Please note that the bar and snack bar is CASH ONLY. Saturday’s match referee is Lewis Hunt, and he is assisted on the day by Ashley Hastings and Martin Dexter. Please remember that this game is to be played at Quorn AFC’s Farley Way Stadium and NOT at Ashby Ivanhoe’s NFU Sports Ground. Kick-off in Leicestershire is at 3PM.

Words; Oliver Atkin

Premier Division North Fixtures

Sat 30 Mar 2024KO: 15:00
AFC Mansfield
Sherwood Colliery
Sat 30 Mar 2024KO: 15:00
Eastwood CFC
Boston Town
Sat 30 Mar 2024KO: 15:00
Heanor Town
Deeping Rangers
Sat 30 Mar 2024KO: 15:00
Melton Town
Skegness Town
Sat 30 Mar 2024KO: 15:00
Newark & Sherwood United
Kimberley Miners Welfare
Sat 30 Mar 2024KO: 15:00
Pinchbeck United
Hucknall Town

Match details

Match date

Sat 30 Mar 2024




Premier Division North

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Sleaford Town
Ashby Ivanhoe
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