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Talking Points: The big stories in Non-League

1 –  What has happened to OWNAFC? 

OWNA FC was recently launched with the intention of making footballing history. It aimed to takeover a club and give members of the consortium (who had paid £49 each) the opportunity to make new signings, hire and fire staff, negotiate contracts, set admission prices as well as select the squad and plan training sessions, all via a smart phone app.

Earlier in the month, the group were reportedly in advanced talks to buy Northern Premier League side Hednesford Town, however ultimately a deal never got over the line.

Since then the group have deleted their social media accounts while it had been reported that OWNAFC had ceased trading due to an apparent online smear campaign, with the group claiming that threats had been made about the children of directors.

Nevertheless, the OWNAFC’s exact future remains rather unclear.

2- Who is left in the FA Vase? 

The FA Vase is arguably Non-League’s most prestigious competition, giving clubs outside the top four Steps the opportunity of potentially lifting silverware at Wembley.

On Saturday Northwich Victoria face Chertsey Town.

Under the guidance of Steve Wilkes, Northwich have been a superb run in this year’s competition, beating the likes of Histon and Sholing in the process.

The Vics, who lifted the FA Trophy in 1984 and were playing in the Conference as recently as 2006, have endured a turbulent decade both on and off the pitch but with the club now under fan ownership, the future is looking bright.

Wilkes’ side will come up against a Chertsey side who command the best defensive record in the competition.

Since progressing past the qualifying stages, the Curfews have done goalkeeper turned manager Dave Anderson proud, conceding just once in the competition since the middle of October.

The other semi-final sees Canterbury City travel to Cray Valley PM.

Despite enjoying the best period of their history on the pitch, Canterbury’s immediate future was recently thrown into jeopardy when their plans for a new stadium were rejected by the local council.

After news of the council’s decision was revealed a few months ago, chairman Tim Clark set out to find candidates to run in the upcoming local elections.

Meanwhile, Cray Valley PM come into the game on the back of a superb win over Exeter-based side Willand Rovers.

The South London club count former Charlton Athletic and Leyton Orient striker Kevin Lisbie among their ranks, with the 40-year-old netting a vital brace in the quarter-finals.

3 – What is the situation in the Southern League South title race? 

This battle in Step 3 is quickly turning into one of the most exciting contests in the pyramid.

Following last weekend’s results, just four points separate the top four teams, with just a matter of weeks left of the campaign.

Weymouth currently top the pack after comfortably breezing past Hendon at the weekend, while Taunton Town and Salisbury follow, one and two points behind the Terras respectively.

Meanwhile, the surprise package in this year’s title race has been Met Police, who despite having to face the logistical hurdle that moving to the Southern League as part of the re-structure caused, have enjoyed a superb campaign on the pitch and currently sit in fourth spot.

4 –  Have Chorley gained the moment back in the National League North? 

Despite leading National League North for most of the season, last week it looked as though Jamie Vermiglio’s side no longer had the wind in their sails.

A run of one win in four, coincided with a superb sequence of results from Jim Gannon’s Stockport County to knock the Magpies off the top of the table.

However, the tussle at the top took another turn at the weekend when Stockport went down at Brackley and Chorley recorded a convincing 3-0 win at home to Kidderminster.

Meanwhile, Spennymoor Town are continuing to lurk in third place, seven points behind Vermiglio’s side but with a crucial two games in hand.

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