Football: Stakes being raised

Non-League Notebook
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Both a place in the Football League and a trip to Wembley are at stake in this weekend's top non-League games, with the FA Umbro Trophy semi- final first-leg games sharing top billing with a Cheshire derby which will have a big say in the destination of the GM Vauxhall Conference title.

The three teams in contention for the Conference championship all dropped points over Easter, after which Macclesfield Town were in pole position with a three-point lead and a game in hand over second-placed Kidderminster Harriers. The champions, Stevenage Borough, are still in the race in third place, 10 points behind Macclesfield but with three games in hand.

Tomorrow Sammy McIlroy's Macclesfield side entertain their Cheshire rivals, Altrincham, at Moss Rose after seeing their run of eight successive wins come to an emphatic end on Monday, when they lost 4-1 at Hednesford Town. It was the first time they had conceded four goals in a game since December 1995.

Kidderminster, who gained only one point over Easter, are without a game tomorrow while Stevenage take a break from league action to visit Woking, who will be without their injured forward Clive Walker, for their Trophy semi-final first leg.

In the other semi-final, Dagenham & Redbridge of the Icis League entertain Dr Martens League side Gloucester City, who are managed by former West Ham forward Leroy Rosenior. So, for the first time since 1990, a club outside the Conference will reach the Trophy final.

The last 100 per cent record in the non-League pyramid ended on Wednesday when Tiverton Town drew 2-2 at Taunton Town. This season's first game between the top two sides in the Screwfix Direct (Western) League attracted a crowd of 1,196, who saw Phil Everett score his second goal late on to preserve Tivvy's unbeaten run, at least. Richard Hancox struck both goals for Taunton.

Prior to Wednesday, Tiverton had won all 26 of their league games. They lead Taunton by eight points and have three games in hand, so the title is still well within their reach.