ACCRINGTON Stanley entertain Blyth Spartans tomorrow (Kick-off 3pm) with an 11-point cushion atop the Unibond Premier Division.
Not only did Stanley re-affirm their status as odds-on favourites by beating rivals Worksop Town by four goals to one away from home last week.
They were also able to sit back and absorb a number of disappointing results for chasers such as Vauxhall Motors (a defeat and a draw) and Barrow (a draw) over the course of a week which has made the title contest look even more of a one-horse race.
But they home in on the title, and promotion to the Nationwide Conference, without the bonus of a showpiece cup final appearance to put the seal on the season.
While the league has been very much the priority since the campaign began in August, Stanley were shocked on Wednesday night when Unibond First Division side Kendal Town, managed by ex-Red Peter Smith, became the first side to beat a close-to-full strength Stanley on their own patch this season.
They won 2-1 at the Crown Ground in the one-leg semi-final of the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy to knock out holders Stanley and deny them a clash with Conference outfit Leigh RMI in the final.
Coleman has a clean bill of health tomorrow and I would expect a return for influential playmaker Mike Marsh, rested for the Kendal game, and for defender Jonathan Smith, who was only used as a second-half substitute.
- GREAT Harwood Town are away to Padiham in North West Counties Division Two tomorrow (Kick-off 3pm).
- Read John Coleman's thoughts on the last week and on this weekend's action in the Observer