After Saturday’s unexpected postponement, The Coasters turn their focus to Tuesday night’s fixture against Curzon Ashton.
AFC Fylde will travel to Greater Manchester for this National League North fixture against twelfth-placed Curzon Ashton at the Tameside Stadium – (7:45 pm KO).
Curzon Ashton was formed in 1963 after the merger between two clubs, Curzon Road Methodists FC and Assheton Amateurs FC who played in the Manchester Amateur Football League. The merged club name was Curzon Amateurs before being changed to the current name. Curzon Ashton first joined the Manchester Football League in 1970/71, winning the Manchester Intermediate Cup before winning the competition for three successive times. The Nash earned their nickname from playing at National Park, former home to pre-war club Ashton National. The Nash were founding members of the Cheshire League Division Two in 1978/79 and won promotion in the first attempt. The following season saw them reaching the semi-final of the FA Vase, being the first club from the North West to do so.
In 1983/84 Curzon became a founding member of the North West Counties League when the MWCL Cheshire League and the Lancashire Combination merged as part of the non-league pyramid. During the 1985/86 season, the Nash finished in a relegation position, but Curzon went on to become founding members of the Northern Premier League Division One. The club was briefly moved to the Northern Counties East League before returning to the North West Counties prior to the 1998/99 season. The club would remain in this league before being promoted to the Northern Premier League in the 2007/08 season.
The 2013/14 season saw Curzon Ashton win a league championship for the first time in 36 years as the Nash won the Northern Premier League Division One earning promotion to the Premier Division. 2014/15 saw the Nash achieve back to back promotions as they won promotion to the National League North where they remain today, the highest level the club has achieved in their history.
The Manager – Steve Cunningham
Steve Cunningham was appointed as Curzon Ashton boss in June 2020 prior to the 2020/21 National League North season. Before The Nash came calling, Cunningham’s last coaching role was with Northern Premier League side Colne FC, where he managed Colne for six years building a reputation as a fan-favourite. As the Colne FC manager, he achieved promotion from the North West Counties Premier Division and led Colne to numerous Northern Premier League Division One play-off appearances. Cunningham had also previously represented Colne as a player.
In this first season as Curzon Ashton manager, Cunningham has led the Nash to 12th in the table, recording two wins and two draws in their opening eight National League North fixtures.
Club Captain – Robert Evans
Skipper, Robert Evans, has been with the Nash since the summer of 2019. The 25-year-old midfielder is a product of the Wrexham youth academy and made his senior debut playing for the Red Dragons in the Conference Premier in April 2012.
His time at Wrexham was a successful one, as Evans became Wrexham’s youngest ever captain and won the Young Player of the Year award on successive occasions. He went on to make 120 appearances for Wrexham before signing for Billericay Town prior to the 2017/18 season. Following his release, Evans signed for Warrington Town where he quickly established himself as a key player for the Yellows. He turned down a new contract at Warrington to sign for the Nash.
1 Cameron Mason
2 Craig Mahon
6 Paul Turnbull
4 Noah Stokes
5 Douglas Tharme
3 Matthew Waters
10 Dale Witham
8 Robert Evans ©
7 Connor Hughes
9 Dominic Knowles
11 Darren Stephenson
The Nash’s last outing was a positive one as Curzon beat Kettering Town away from home in a 2-1 win. However, Curzon haven’t had the best of starts to their season, having suffered four defeats before the Kettering victory. The Nash came away from Chester and Gateshead with nothing, and suffered home defeats versus Darlington and Blyth. The Greater Manchester club will be hoping to build on Saturday’s three points and challenge towards the top end of the table this year.
On the other side of the fence, AFC Fylde are yet to lose in the National League North season. The draw against Alfreton spoiled the perfect winning streak but maintained their unbeaten record. It took another last-minute goal from Nick Haughton to seal the win against Spennymoor Town this past Tuesday.
With Boston’s postponement, the Coasters will be well-rested with a week separating this game from their last outing.
Curzon Ashton and Fylde are no strangers to one another, having faced each other on 12 occasions. Their last encounter dates back to 2019/20 when the Coasters hosted the Nash at Mill Farm for an FA Trophy fixture, with Fylde winning 1-0 thanks to a Danny Rowe goal. Nonetheless, both teams have defeated the other on 5 instances, with the remaining encounters being draws. Fylde have a slight advantage with goals scored, having bagged 18 goals against Curzon Ashton.
Interestingly, The Coasters are scoring the majority of their goals towards the end of their games at the moment, with 55.6% of goals being scored between the 75th and 90th minutes.
As far as predicted line-ups go, The Nash have favoured a certain selection of their players recently, opting for a more defensive-minded approach to their games.
Inbetween the Curzon Ashton sticks should be Cameron Mason, who is one of the Nash’s longest-serving member of the current crop, having signed for the club in 2014.
The central defence partnership should feature Paul Turnbull, who was made captain in Curzon Ashton’s most recent outing. The Australian Noah Stokes is also expected to feature, who joined the Nash following his release from Mansfield Town. Former Wrexham AFC youngster Douglas Tharme should complete the defence. Cover the wings in the wing back positions former Coaster Craig Mahon, and Matthew Waters could feature.
The middle of the park could see Dale Witham play alongside captain Robert Evans; that is if both central midfielders have shaken off the injuries that forced them to miss the Kettering fixture. Connor Hughes should round off the midfield.
Upfront for the Nash should be the striking partnership of Dominic Knowles, who was a prolific player for Boston United before joining Curzon Ashton prior to this season, and ex-coaster Darren Stephenson. Stephenson is a Jamaican-born forward who joined the Nash from Stockport County in September.
The One to Watch
Dominic Knowles is currently one of Cunningham’s most important players thanks to his prolific nature. The 28-year-old striker started his career at Premier League side, Burnley, rising through the youth system before being released after struggling to break into the first-team fold at Turf Moor.
Knowles made his senior debut for Gainsborough Trinity, where he scored 10 goals in 18 appearances before being released in bizarre fashion, after attending an unsanctioned trial at Burton Albion.
Following his release, he went on to join Harrogate Town for the remainder of the season, netting 10 times in 14 games, before joining Burton Albion on a permanent basis. He made 39 League Two appearances for the Brewers but scored just 3 goals in his time with the club. While at Burton, he spent time on loan with Kidderminster Harriers. After he was released by The Brewers, he returned to Harrogate Town and made 83 appearances between 2015 and 2019, scoring 34 goals in total. His final season before settling in at the Nash was spent representing Boston United, where he scored 12 goals in 29 games.
Since pulling on the Curzon Ashton shirt, Knowles has enjoyed an extremely positive start to the 2020/21 season. The striker has played 8 times in the National League North, and scored 6 times. His goalscoring ability bolsters Curzon’s attacking threats and he will certainly be a player that Jim Bentley will highlight going into Tuesday’s fixture.