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Story posted: Friday, 20th October 1989

Injuries stretch squad to the limit
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Gresley Rovers’ meteoric start to their Banks’s League campaign has put Frank Northwood’s injury hit squad under extra pressure.
Despite not being the pre-season choice of the pundits to take the title this time round Northwood’s men have blazed into an early seven-point lead at the top of the table – and made the Moatmen the team they all want to beat.

Northwood said after the home victory over Tividale earlier in the season: “They did what we expect all the teams that come here to do: raised their game and did their best to knock us off our perch. But we’ve just got to accept that we are the team they all want to beat.”

Tuesday’s visitors Blakenall were no exceptions. And their efforts were redoubled as the champions battled to lift themselves out of a rut of four games without a win, during which manager Tommy Coakley handed the Black Country outfit a resignation bombshell.

Sure enough, the visitors looked nothing like a side lacking in confidence and form and Gresley were pitched into their toughest battle of the season, a Richard Denby thunderbolt finally proving the difference and stretching Gresley’s 100 per cent league record to nine games.

Said Northwood afterwards: “They raised their game as I expect all our visitors to do and did very well but nevertheless I always expected us to win. I expected it to be hard and it was. But at the end of the day we’ve done the double over the champions – and I think we did it in style. I didn’t see them have a chance.”

Northwood’s summing up of the game was not entirely accurate – Blakenall did cause a few hearts to flutter in a barnstorming final 10 minutes but up that point had been kept at a safe distance by a defence in which the assured Bob Aston and perfectly balanced sweeper Steve Astley were stars.

Full back Peter Perry also gave a second half performance that was an indication of Rovers’ defensive strength in depth.

But the walking wounded unable to take part in the game – including strikers Paul Acklam, Tracey Norton and Steve Cant – were a sign of Northwood’s attacking headaches.

And with top scorer Andy Maddocks unavailable for tomorrow’s league cup trip to Paget Rangers Northwood is hoping that Acklam will have had a plaster cast on his broken wrist removed in time to make a return to action.

Acklam is hopeful of playing at Paget but there is nothing but gloom for his friend and team-mate Martin Dick, who has to see a specialist after injuring his knee in the FA Cup trip to Chadderton back in September.
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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