Haughmond face last-day shootout for title
Haughmond are second favourites for the West Midlands Premier title going into the final game of the season – but promotion is still on the cards via the back door.
The Shropshire side are one point behind leaders Tividale after both tasted victory at the weekend.
Haughmond hope county neighbours AFC Bridgnorth will do them a favour next weekend, but they face a tough game against a rejuvenated Dudley Town side themselves.
Even if Dan Williams’ side do come second, they can still win promotion.
“Bridgnorth are a local side, and hopefully they’ll want to do us a favour,” said Williams. “Based on the table, and based on everything we know, we expect Tividale to win.
“But they did slip up the other week to Dudley Sports which we didn’t expect.
“Unfortunately for us ours is a 50/50 game. Dudley Town have really improved, they’ve signed some players and they beat Wolverhampton Casuals 3-1 the other week, who are the best side we’ve played. It’s not one you’d pick if you need three points.
“We’ve just got to win and hope for the best. We’re pretty sure we’re finishing second place.
“But there’s plenty to play for because the best second place based on points-per-game across the country gets you promoted.
“There’s 19 leagues at our level, and the nine best second places are supposed to go up. As of last week we’re ninth so it’s close.
“I don’t care if we come first or second, as long as we get promoted.”
However, before they find out their fate in the league, Haughmond have a Shropshire County Cup semi-final against Wellington Amateurs tomorrow night.
“In an ideal world I’d rather it was the week after!” admitted Williams. “We’ve got a small squad and one lad we signed from Bridgnorth, Brett Taylor, is cup tied.
“We’ve got a few lads who are teachers and they’re away for Easter too. We’re short for numbers, down to 12 or 13.
“But we let ourselves down last year, and lost in the final. We want to right a few wrongs.
“I didn’t win it in 10 years of playing for the club, so it would be nice to win it as a manager.
“We’ll play our strongest side available and hope we don’t pick up any injuries.”
The Ams are likely to boast former Premier League midfielder Danny Guthrie in their ranks, but Haughmond are desperate to win the cup.
The manager said: “We’ve never won it before, and I’d like to do it for our chairman, Stuart Williams.
“He washes the kit, cleans up afterwards, and does the same for the youth team.
“He’s been involved for 30 years, so it would be nice to do it for him.”
As well as the league title and the county cup, the division’s golden boot is still up for grabs after Haughmond striker Steve Hole notched his 34th of the season at the weekend.
He scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win away at Wellington.
Charlie Musselwhite added a second 10 minutes from the end, following up a Harry Morris penalty that was saved.
“The only thing that matters at this stage of the season is the result,” said Williams. “But it was nice for Steve to get a goal, that puts him joint-top of the scoring charts with one game to go.”
Down the bottom of the table, Shifnal Town’s relegation fears grew with a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Malvern Town.
Shifnal are second-bottom, one point behind Wem Town, who lost 1-0 at home to Cradley Town.
Mid-table Bridgnorth also lost, going down 2-1 at home to Bewdley Town.
Shawbury United didn’t play, but took a big step towards safety with others losing around them.