Non-League round-up: March 4

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Andy Morrell stepped down as Wrexham manager at the end of February, with his assistant Billy Barr taking temporary charge.

The 39-year-old, who originally joined the club from Bury in 2010, was promoted to player-manager in September 2011 when Dean Saunders left to manage Doncaster. He went onto score 25 goals in 113 appearances and helped his team to the 2012-13 FA Trophy.

He also led the Dragons to consecutive Conference play-off appearances, losing out to Luton in the 2011-2012 semi-finals before being beaten in the final by bitter rivals Newport a year later.

But Wrexham have struggled this season, and at the time of Morrell’s departure they sat in just 13th place, ten points adrift of the play-offs.

“I feel it is in the best interests of both Wrexham FC and me to make a change now," Morrell said in a statement.

“I'm disappointed with how this season has gone, as I desperately wanted to lead the club I love back to the Football League where... it belongs.

“I'm really proud of my achievements over the last two years and to see 20,000 Wrexham fans celebrating with me holding the FA Trophy will live long in my memory,” Morrell added.

“During my time here I've been treated with the utmost respect by the board and I'd like to thank them and the fans for their support, as both a player and manager.

“I'd also like to thank the players and backroom staff for all their hard work and support throughout my tenure and wish them every success for the future.”

Wrexham chief executive Don Bircham has revealed he has already had several enquiries about the vacant manager’s job, although former Chelsea defender and current Colwyn Bay boss Frank Sinclair has rejected claims that he had been approached by the Welsh side.

Barr revealed his interest in the position, and told reporters that he planned to put his CV in and ‘be dealt with the same way as everybody else.’ The club lost their first game under his stewardship, 5-0 against league leaders Luton, but responded with a 2-0 success against Hereford.

The 45-year-old added that he has nothing but respect for his former boss, insisting that Morrell would go down as a club legend.

Skrill Premier: Top

Luton Town took another giant stride towards automatic promotion when they picked up their sixth straight win against play-off chasing Alfreton Town.

Luke Guttridge, Andre Gray and Paul Benson netted for the Hatters to keep them 14 points clear of nearest rivals Cambridge United.

John Still’s side have now scored 20 goals without reply in their last four games. Their season total of 82 goals is also 17 more than the division’s second highest scorers – FC Halifax.
Cambridge United have remained second despite a run of five games without success, which was ended by a 5-1 thrashing of Kidderminster Harriers last Saturday.

Defeats to Grimsby, Alfreton and Braintree, as well as draws with Dartford and Wrexham, has seemingly ended the U’s Championship hunt, although the FA Trophy finalists do still have an eight point cushion on sixth place Salisbury in the race for a play-off place.

Barnet are in third place, despite their streak of five consecutive wins under the new management team of Ulrich Landvreugd and Dick Schreuder coming to an end against Woking last weekend.

Curtis Weston initially cancelled out Josh Payne’s opener, but a brace of goals from Scott Rendell ensured the Cards departed the Hive with all three points.

In fourth are Alfreton Town, who missed the chance to go above the Bees when they lost out at Kenilworth Road. The Reds have seen their promotion hunt falter somewhat in recent weeks, with only two wins coming in their last seven games.

Three points behind both Barnet and Alfreton, and completing the top five at this stage, are Nuneaton Town. The early-season pacesetters looked set to be drifting towards mid-table obscurity following a miserable run of results towards the end of last year, but they have remained in touch with some fine results in recent weeks, including wins over Macclesfield, Aldershot and Lincoln.

Other play-off contenders include, Salisbury City who are currently a point further back with a game in hand, and Grimsby Town, who with up to five games in hand on some of their rivals seem a safe bet for a top five position. Gateshead and FC Halifax are also within one win of the play-off places.

Skrill Premier: Bottom

With just eleven games, and a possible 33 points left available to them, Hyde’s relegation is likely to be confirmed by the end of March. With just one win, and nine points taken all season, it’s simply a matter of damage and limitation for the Tigers – who will be keen to avoid the leagues’ lowest ever points tally of 18, recorded by Leigh RMI in 2004-05.

The rest of the table makes for interesting reading, Tamworth are now second bottom, seven points adrift of safety. They are without a win in their last seven games, with draws against Welling and Hyde marking their only points in a miserable run.

Dartford, who looked doomed in mid-January, have staged something of a revival, picking up 14 points out of a possible 18 to move within three points of safety. Wins over Kidderminster, Wrexham, Woking and Hereford, as well as draws against Cambridge and Aldershot mark an incredible turnaround for Tony Burman’s side. However, their fine run of results did come to an end last weekend, when they were surprisingly beaten 3-0 by Southport.

Aldershot Town have been favourites to move clear of trouble throughout the season. After being handed a ten point deduction, they quickly moved to wipe that out and advance up the table – even being lauded as potential outsiders for the play-offs. But come March, and they still sit in the bottom four, and even if you were to give them their ten points back, they would still be in 18th place. The Shots are in a relegation battle, and have won just two of their last ten games.

Chester, Southport and Hereford United are realistically the only other three teams in the relegation mix, with a six point gap separating the Bulls with 17th place Woking.

FA Trophy

Gosport Borough have earned themselves a historic trip to Wembley with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Trophy semi-finals. Two goals from Tim Sills were enough for the team bottom of Skrill South, as Gosport won 2-0 at Privett Park in front of a crowd just shy of 3,000.

The Boro’ will meet Skrill Premier giants Cambridge United in the final, after Richard Money’s side earned a 1-1 draw at last year’s finalists Grimsby Town, to complete a 3-2 aggregate win.

Elsewhere in Non-League

Eastleigh moved to within touching distance of Skrill South leaders Bromley last weekend, after their 3-1 victory over Weston-super-Mare coincided with the Lillywhites dropping points in a 2-2 draw with Bath City. The two teams are now separated by just six points, with the former holding two games in hand.

Sutton United, Ebbsfleet United and Weston-super-Mare make up the play-off places at this stage, while Gosport are joined in the bottom three by Dorchester Town and Tonbridge Angels.

Skrill North leaders AFC Telford are in prime position for an instant return to the Skrill Premier, after winning their last four games. However, second place North Ferriby United are only two points behind with a game in hand.

Hednesford Town, Boston United and Brackley Town make up the play-off places at this stage, while the bottom three is Oxford City, Gloucester City and Workington.

Look out for more news and reports from around the Skrill Premier, North and South in your next match-day programme, when Woking takes on Wrexham on Saturday 29th March.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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