Conference clubs in control in the Trophy

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The Independent Online
Non-League notebook

Despite suffering some scary moments last weekend, Macclesfield Town and Northwich Victoria should be able to secure their trips to Wembley in tomorrow's second-leg ties in the semi-finals of the FA Umbro Trophy.

The two GM Vauxhall Conference teams from Cheshire had to come from behind in last Saturday's first legs against opposition from the UniBond League. Macclesfield overturned a first-half deficit against Chorley to win 3- 1 at Moss Rose, while Northwich also went a goal down at Hyde but recovered to take a 2-1 advantage back to the Drill Field.

History is against Hyde and Chorley in their quests to cause upsets tomorrow: the Trophy final has been contested by two Conference clubs in eight of the last nine years. Only Leek, well beaten by Barrow in 1990, have represented the lower leagues at Wembley this decade in the Trophy.

In what may have been a final rehearsal, Macclesfield won 2-1 at Northwich in a league fixture on Tuesday - when most eyes were on the struggles of the top two. Stevenage retained their two-point lead (with a game in hand) over Woking, but both sides had to earn their points the hard way.

Stevenage trailed from the 11th minute at Kettering but were rescued by goals from the Conference's top scorer, Barry Hayles, in the 69th and 80th minutes. Woking also won 2-1, at home to Farnborough, despite going a goal down with just 16 minutes remaining. The Cards drew level thanks to an 82nd-minute own goal and, two minutes later, Darren Adams grabbed what could be a vital winner.