A tense derby on cards when Calder host Midgley
The length of the Premier Division separates the Calder Valley pair, but a one-sided contest is the last thing anyone is expecting as the season reaches boiling point following the recent big freeze.
Midgley are unbeaten in 15 league games since returning to the top flight and have surged 13 points clear of their only rivals for honours, Stump Cross, who have played three games fewer.
Calder have a Halifax FA Cup final to look forward to but first they must haul themselves up the table, having gone to Warley Rangers last night propping up the rest.
The fixture backlog was added to last Saturday when the Premier programme was wiped out. Midgley were due to play Ryburn away while Calder had been set to travel to Sowerby United.
It meant Calder started the week with half their league games to play in April but player Simon Stansfield said an end-of-season backlog was not usual because of regular waterlogging problems at home.
Stansfield said: “We’re used to a busy end of season. Fortunately we have two teams so that should not be too much of a problem.”
Calder’s Reserves have just one game left to play in Division Three and if they win it they will be champions.
Stansfield said they hoped to clinch safety as soon as possible, then they might be able to rotate players prior to their cup final date with Brighouse Old Boys at Brighouse Town on Tuesday, May 7.
“If we play the way we did against Huddersfield Amateurs in the cup semi-final we shouldn’t have a problem with relegation,” he added.
Ex-Midgley player Stansfield believes it is a case of “when” not “if” his former club will win the title for the first time since 2004.
He paid tribute to their consistency and said: “They are a good, strong side and very difficult to beat.”
Calder had no injuries earlier in the week and they hope that Scott Dawson’s likely three-match ban, for a red card against Amateurs, will be served before the cup final.
Midgley may still need four wins from their last five games to back up last season’s Division One title success.
Midgley won this season’s first meeting, an evening match, by 4-1 but their task was made easier when Calder’s Remi Allen was dismissed in the first half.
Their manager Craig Gee said: “This will probably be one of our toughest matches of the year.
“Calder are in a false position in the league. They have shown what they can do by getting through to the district cup final, beating Brighouse Town and Huddersfield Amateurs on penalties, which proves they are no mugs.”
Centre back Joel Gibson completes a three-match suspension but otherwise Midgley hope to be at full strength for the game at Luddenden Foot.