PREVIEW Manchester Premier Cup Semi-Final
Tuesday 5th February 2019 @ 14:40 by Mark Phillip

There’s a big night of football ahead, as Curzon Ashton Football Club make the short trip to Chadderton in the Manchester Premier Cup semi-final.

Meanwhile, Mossley A.F.C. – who have been reinstated following FC United’s expulsion from the competition – travel to Radcliffe.

Curzon enter the game in high spirits, having embarked on a six game unbeaten run under manager Mark Bradshaw.

The Nash’s glittering run of form began at the turn of the new year, in which they came from behind to beat local rivals Ashton United 2-1, before overcoming York City 1-0.

Further victories at Nuneaton Borough and Chester were followed by a draw against Darlington, while Saturday’s victory at Hereford – in which Curzon came from behind yet again – took the club to within four points of a play-off place in the National League North.

The Nash enter tonight’s game as overwhelming favourites, not just because of their recent form but due to the four division gulf between the sides.

Chadderton – members of the North West Counties First Division North – have endued mixed fortunes this season. David Fish’s side are 13th in the table, having won three, drawn one and lost two of their previous six games.

Chadderton’s game last weekend, like most sides in the north west, fell foul of the wintry weather. Unaffected by fatigue, Chadderton will be hoping to capitalise on a fresh set of legs in their quest to reach the final. Fish’s side reached this stage of the competition after beating Avro in the first round, before dumping Droylsden out on penalties in the quarter-final. Curzon have also negotiated two rounds, beating Hyde United and Salford City.

Tonight’s other semi-final is being contested between two sides with play-off ambitions in the Evo-Stik West.

In a strange turn of events, third place Radcliffe host Mossley in fourth. The Lilywhites were reinstated into the competition last week following FC United’s expulsion. The Rebels were looking to defend the cup for a third successive season, but were booted out last week following revelations that they had fielded an ineligible player. The Rebels’ misfortune has given Mossley a chance to reach the final for a third time in five years. Under former managers Peter Band and Lloyd Morrison, the Lilywhites won the competition in 2015 and 2016, beating Curzon Ashton and Stalybridge Celtic respectively. Standing in their way of another final is an out-of-form Radcliffe outfit. John Macken’s side have lost two of their previous three games – one of which came against Mossley in a 4-3 thriller.

Radcliffe booked their place in this stage of the competition after beating Irlam in the first round and Trafford in the quarter-final. Mossley were knocked out by FC United in the quarter-final, losing 2-0 at Seel Park.

Picture: Mossley celebrate winning the competition in 2016