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PREVIEW: West Didsbury & Chorlton v Widnes

11 months ago By Callum Chadwick

All you need to know ahead of Widnes' opening league fixture at West Didsbury & Chorlton

Widnes' maiden Hallmark Security League Premier Division campaign gets underway in earnest on Saturday as Joey Dunn's side visit Brookburn Road to take on West Didsbury & Chorlton.

The new campaign has been an eagerly anticipated one for Widnes on and off the pitch. Saturday's game marks Widnes' first-ever game at Step Five of the Non-League pyramid following last season's title success in the First Division.

Widnes will be looking to carry their form from late last season into the new campaign. Dunn's side won all of their remaining 14 league games to secure the title, five points clear of second-placed Charnock Richard.

Manager Dunn will be expecting a response from his side following Widnes' disappointing FA Cup exit at the hands of Handsworth Parramore last weekend.

West Didsbury & Chorlton enjoyed contrasting fortunes in their season curtain-raiser, running out 5-0 winners at Athersley Recreation in their own FA Cup tie.

Manager Steve Settle is embarking on his third season in charge of West, holding ambitions of a top-four finish after finishing fifth and sixth respectively in his first two seasons in charge.

Settle managed to retain the entirety of last season's squad. This combined with a number of key additions, West will prove to be tough opposition in Widnes' league opener.

Saturday marks the first-ever meeting between these two sides.

One To Watch

West raised an eyebrow or two in early July when they announced the signing of former 1874 Northwich striker Tom Bailey.

Bailey has established himself as one of the most prolific strikers in the North West Counties Football League over the past couple of seasons, scoring 31 goals in 52 appearances last season as 1874 finished fourth in the Premier Division whilst retaining the Mid-Cheshire Cup.

Prior to his spell at 1874, Bailey spent four years at Glossop North End, scoring 60 goals in 101 North West Counties League appearances. His time with the Hillmen included an appearance at Wembley in the 2015 FA Vase Final against North Shields, in which Bailey scored the opening goal.

Bailey adds another option to a West frontline already brimming with firepower. Settle's men finished last season as the third-highest goalscorers in the league, finding the net 106 times in 42 games - a record only bettered by Bootle and Runcorn Town.

Opening Day Record

Since Widnes' debut season in the North West Counties Football League back in 2013, the Whites have only won once on the opening day of a new league season.

Widnes were beaten by Cheadle Town, Wigan Robin Park and Ashton Town on consecutive opening days before last season's 3-1 triumph at Prestwich Heys.

Likewise, West have only won of their previous five opening day fixtures - a 4-2 win at Barnoldswick Town in August 2014. Last season, Settle's men were held to a 2-2 draw at Runcorn Linnets.

Joey Dunn looks ahead...

Following last weekend's FA Cup defeat, Dunn challenged his side to bounce back despite the tough task at-hand away at West.

He said: "West have steadily built over the past couple of seasons and they've got some good players.

"I would consider them to be one of the best six sides in the Premier Division so we know that we have to be on our game and not defend like we did today (on Sunday) and we need to be more potent going forward.

"We've got to dust ourselves down and go again at West Didsbury - a wounded animal is always one to be wary of so we've just got to make sure that we're on our game."

Matchday Information

Date: Saturday 12th August
Kick-off: 3pm
Location: Brookburn Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, M21 8FE
Adults: £5
Concession: £3
Under 12s: FREE

For supporters travelling to Chorlton, click here for information about travelling to Brookburn Road.

Updated 21:28 - 11 Aug 2017 by Callum Chadwick

Where next?

Buy the Sky Sports 2017/18 Yearbook at a reduced rate Get yourself a discounted copy through Widnes Football Club Supporters' Association
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