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Story posted: Friday, 18th March 1988

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Gresley rovers manager Frank Northwood last night refused to be drawn into a war of words with rival boss Ron Smart on the eve of the game which could break or make the Moatmen’s challenge for the Banks’s League Premier Division title.
Rovers travel to meet top-of-the-table Oldbury United with Smart boasting: “We’re in the driving seat and we think it’s our year.”

But Northwood steered carefully clear of a head-on collision with the man he has so-far managed to out-manoeuvre in six confrontations since the start of last season.

“Ron’s putting his head on the block, but you’ve got to admit he’s in a great position,” he said. “Tamworth, Lye, Halesowen Harriers and ourselves have game in hand, but it’s always better to have the points in the bag.”

Northwood acknowledges the vital importance of tomorrow’s trip to The Cricketts.

“It’s a four-pointer and we’ve got to come away with something. We can’t afford to let too many points slip from now on. The pleasing thing is that the players are bubbling after last week’s win over Buxton and Ron’s lads will have it in the back of their minds that they haven’t beaten us in six league and cup matches.”

He is hoping that recently-signed striker Dave Morrison turns on the style against his old club.

“Dave’s had a bit of an ankle problem, but I expect him to be fit and raring to go,” said the Gresley boss.

Smart, however, is convinced that Oldbury are firmly on course for the title and promotion back to the Beazer Homes League Midland Division.

He said this week: “The chasers have more to worry about than we do. Tamworth, for instance, have five games in hand and if they win them all they will be one point ahead of us. But that is asking a lot and they still have to play Gresley twice yet. Last season we were always in the position where we were chasing Atherstone and I know how difficult it is to catch up.”
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
12 Peterborough Sports 42 -8 51
13 Spalding United 42 -10 50
14 Loughborough Dynamo 42 -17 49
15 Sheffield FC 42 -19 45
16 Belper Town 42 -44 45
17 Gresley 42 -42 43
18 Kidsgrove Athletic 42 -20 42
19 Carlton Town 42 -10 41
20 Newcastle Town 42 -24 39
21 Market Drayton Town 42 -46 39
22 Romulus 42 -37 35

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