by David Williams

TROPHY-chasing Cammell Laird - Wirral's team of the moment - are reining in another prized trophy . . . the North West Counties League Division One championship.

Lairds, hot favourites to win this season's coveted FA Vase - they travel to take on giantkillers Newmarket Town in the quarter-finals - are aiming to win promotion to the next rung on the non-league football ladder . . . the Unibond League (subject to meeting certain ground criteria).

Lairds, who did their North West Counties League title chances a power of good with this emphatic win at Atherton Collieries on Saturday, are currently fourth in the table, 14 points adrift of new leaders Alsager Town.

But if Lairds, who had six points deducted earlier this season for a breach of league rules, win their five games in hand they would top the table by a single point.

Their amazing success in cup competitions could, ironically, work against them. A fixture pile-up means that Lairds face nine matches in 24 days next month - a dreaded backlog that could become even more congested if they reach the semi-finals of the FA Vase and League Challenge Cup, which are two-legged affairs.

"We wouldn't have it any other way," said club press officer Paul Loughlin. "All the more reason for people to get down to Kirklands and get behind the lads and help us keep our fantastic run of form going."

Ex-Tranmere striker Jamie McGuire scored two of the goals in the victory at Atherton, taking his season's tally to 30, four less than top scorer Ronnie 'Rocket' Morgan. Anthony Hargreaves and Ian Cooke also found the net.

Lairds bid to reach the first of those semi-finals this Saturday, when they welcome fifth-placed Curzon Ashton to Kirklands, Rock Ferry, in a League Challenge Cup quarter-final tie (kick-off 3pm). Last night (Tuesday) they entertained Atherton Collieries in a return league fixture.

Lairds will be running one, possibly two, supporters' coaches to the FA Vase quarter-final tie at Newmarket Town on Saturday week (March 4, kick-off 3pm).

Winners of Globe Sport's recent contest to win tickets to see the Cammell Laird v VCD Athletic FA Vase fifth round tie were: Simon Crabtree, of New Ferry, Ian Critchley (Moreton) and J. McKeown (Raby Mere).