Bignall finds net for Shrimps

Non-League notebook
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The Independent Online
The early front-runners in the race for the GM Vauxhall Conference title are three clubs who were not among the bookmakers' pre-season favourites for the crown. If they beat Yeovil at The Shay tonight, the 66-1 outsiders Halifax Town will top the table, while Southport (40-1) are currently in second place.

However, at present both clubs are trailing behind Morecambe, who lead the way with 13 points from five games and were 20-1 before the season. Following an opening-day draw against Leek, the Shrimps, as the Lancashire seaside club are known, have overcome Gateshead, Hayes, Kidderminster and Telford to give their manager, Jimmy Harvey, a pleasing start to the new campaign and earn him the August "manager of the month" award.

"I'm not surprised at our start," Harvey, the former Tranmere and Hereford midfielder, said yesterday. "We're a good team, a footballing team. We're not well-off like Stevenage and others in our league. We can't afford big transfer fees, so we sign players on free transfers, we work with them and we allow them to play."

Harvey has made only two additions to last season's squad: Darren Hughes, a left-back from Exeter, and Kenny Mayers, a midfielder from Chorley. His top man this season has been a forward he signed from Stevenage late last season: Mike Bignall, a former Wrexham trainee, who has hit four league goals this season to take his tally for the Shrimps to 12 in 17 games. "He's a terrific scorer," Harvey said. "He's young and he's got plenty of ability - he's a natural predator, like John Aldridge."

Morecambe have a tough away game at Hednesford on Sunday, when Southport, who trail the Shrimps only on goal difference but have played a game more, entertain Slough.

The Conference has re-arranged all its fixtures scheduled for tomorrow, as have all the senior semi-professional leagues. The Football Association has cancelled all FA Carlsberg Vase first qualifying round ties due to be played tomorrow. One tie, Somersham v Warboys, is being staged tonight, with the rest spread between Sunday and Thursday.

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