Non-League football: Barrow back in Trophy business

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The Independent Online
With only one - Cheltenham Town - of the top five in the GM Vauxhall Conference having reached the last 16 of the FA Umbro Trophy, there is a good chance that a club from outside the top flight of the non-League game can emulate Dagenham & Redbridge last season and reach the final.

Eight non-Conference sides are involved in tomorrow's third-round ties and the team with perhaps the best chance of going all the way to Wembley are Barrow. The 1990 Trophy winners, who are 10 points clear at the top of the UniBond League, have a home tie against Northwich Victoria. The Cumbrians have recently strengthened their squad by signing Mike Marsh, the former Liverpool and West Ham midfielder, from Southend United.

It is possible that all the quarter-finalists could come from the Conference, as none of the eight GMVC teams in the last 16 have been drawn together. Like Barrow, another club trying to prevent that happening are Grantham. The Dr Martens League Midland Division leaders, whose player-manager is the former Nottingham Forest midfielder Gary Mills, have a tough tie at home to Hednesford Town, however.

John King's Altrincham side, now in the UniBond League after many years in the Conference, have an attractive home tie against Southport; while Jimmy Case's Bashley team take a break from chasing promotion from the Dr Martens Southern Division by travelling to Hayes.

Dover Athletic, who head north to the UniBond side Hyde United, have signed the striker Carl Alford on loan from Rushden & Diamonds. The 26- year-old has seen his reputation slump somewhat since his non-League record pounds 85,000 move to Rushden from Kettering, and will be hoping for a change of fortune on the Kent coast.

Cheltenham, Halifax Town's main rivals for the Conference title, have an awkward away tie at Ashton United. While they are engaged on Trophy business Halifax can extend their lead in the league to 12 points if they win away to troubled Yeovil Town tomorrow in the pick of the day's GMVC programme. Cheltenham will have three games in hand after tomorrow, though.

Steve Daley, the former Wolves and Manchester City midfielder who lost his job in charge of Telford United earlier this season, has replaced Brian Kenning as the manager of the Dr Martens side Bromsgrove Rovers. Nicky Tanner, the former Liverpool defender, is the new manager of the Screwfix Direct League club Mangotsfield United.

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