MATCH REPORT | Silsden 3 – 0 West

Silsden 3-0 West Didsbury & Chorlton
Aidan Kirby (33)
Aidan Kirby (45)
Lee Spires (63)
HT: 2-0
Att: 187
Starting XI Starting XI
Samuel Lee 1 Oliver Culkin
Craig Bentham 2 Saul Brew-Butler
Reece Kendall 3 Josh Stachini
Josh Kaine 4 Ryan Eiselt
Daniel Illingworth 5 Jamie McLellan (22′ Jack Langford)
Mateusz Tomas 6 Matthew Eckersley
Arley Barnes 7 Ashley Leather (90+1′ Steve Brockley)
Kyle Hancock 8 Martyn Andrews
Lee Spires 9 Saul Henderson
Aidan Kirby 10 Joseph Shaw (55′ James Woodward)
Mark Everingham 11 Joshua Tinker

There was no solace at the end of an gruelling midweek journey for West as a trip to West Yorkshire resulted in joy for the hosts as they reached the top of the table.

Given the commutes involved it was unsurprising to see Steve Settle’s side somewhat depleted, with only 3 players available on the bench (although named on the team sheet, it quickly transpired Junior Dos Santos was unable to make the fixture). Coming up against a side who had yet to be beaten in the league was always going to be a difficult task for West, who have only truly shone in patches during the course of this campaign so far – and that was made doubly difficult when debutant Jamie McLellan was forced off at 20 minute following a firm – but ultimately fair – challenge. He was brought off for Jack Langford, and spent much of the remainder of the first half being attended to on the apron of the pitch for an issue with his knee.

It was the home side who did the pushing during the opening half an hour, with West reduced to a few potshots from distance that didn’t worry the Silsden keeper. Despite the back four having changed composition due to the injury – Tinker, who had been playing in midfield, was brought to full back, to play alongside centre-backs Eiselt and Eckersley, while Brew-Butler filled in on the opposite side – Settle’s team managed to keep the home side out through a mixture of stout defending and missed opportunities by the hosts. With the Yorkshire side rarely letting West out of their own half, and constantly breaking down any potential attacks, this stalemate always looked uneasy. It was broken by a combination of great play and good luck for the home side on 33 minutes – having found room on the left hand side and cut inside at the edge of the area, an attempt at goal took a deflection en route, leaving goalkeeper Ollie Culkin to parry out before Aidan Kirby bundled it away.

Perhaps not the most tidy goal, but on the balance of play, going in 1-0 up would’ve been a fair reflection. However, that man Kirby provided a moment of magic just before half time to leave West with a mountain to climb in the second period. A high cross found him at the edge of the area with a man marking him – but in one fluid movement, he’d managed to chest down a ball that looked far too pacy to be controlled, and lashed home past Culkin, who had no chance of keeping it out. A spectacular effort out of nothing, making it Silsden 2 – 0 Wets at the break.

For the second period West started the brighter, with Ashley Leather being the fulcrum of his side’s attacking intent. For 15 minutes, the game genuinely felt as if it was in the balance – and for the first time all night, the Silsden defence looked as though it may be rocking. Having easily dealt with any attempts for balls over the top during the first half, West were finally getting round the back – although interceptions meant they were still shorn of any clear-cut chances. It was an attempt to force the matter that put the game beyond all doubt though. With West pushing men forward with around 25 minutes to go, Silsden – a side with as much guile and street smarts as you’re likely to see in this league – absorbed the punches before launching a devastating counter attack that left the travelling away support with little to do other than congratulate their hosts on such an incisive goal. Breaking the lines, the home side strung together a few passes under pressure before Lee Spires slotted home to make sure the final 30 minutes were a dead rubber.

West pushed, looking for any consolation – Jimmy Woodward, who had come on for Joe Shaw, looked sharp, and Josh Tinker attempted a few efforts from range. Sadly, it was all for nothing and it is notable that Ollie Culkin was much the busier of the two keepers, forced to make several noteworthy saves to stop the deficit from growing any further. To put the blame on Steve Settle’s side would be unfair. Sometimes in the North West Counties, there are sides that are clearly on another level: Atherton Collieries two seasons ago were one of those, and on tonight’s showing, it looks as if the Cobbydalers may well be the same come the end of the season. A stark night was put into even sharper focus just before the final whistle, when Ashley Leather was brought off in added time following a strong challenge as he entered the box. Steve Brockley, his replacement, didn’t get a touch before the full time whistle signalled it was time to start the long journey home – even longer for some supporters, as the M60 was closed.

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