MATCH REPORT | West 0 – 2 Barnoldswick Town

West Didsbury & Chorlton 0
Barnoldswick Town 2 (Cavanagh 7, Hill 82)
Att: 155

West’s attacking juggernaut spluttered to a halt as their six-match winning run ended miserably at home to Barnoldswick Town.

West were unrecognisable from the team that had scored 21 goals in that streak of successes and can have little complaint after passing up the opportunity to climb into the Premier Division’s top four. Barnoldswick, on the other hand, were resilient in defence and carried a constant threat on the counter, and will be delighted with a fully-deserved three points which moves them into the top half.

Manager Steve Settle made two changes from the team that started last Saturday’s excellent 3-1 win at Winsford United – Sam Parr and Saul Henderson coming in – and West created the first chance of the game inside five minutes from a familiar source. Ben Steer’s long throw, integral so far this season, caused panic in a visiting defence still finding their bearings, and Kevin McGrath’s header was eventually cleared off the line. But on a chilly night at Brookburn Road, this would prove to be a false dawn – not only because Barlick would go on to defend the majority of Steer’s subsequent deliveries with ease, but also because the visitors took the lead soon after. Steer’s involvement was more inauspicious on this occasion – after he had incurred the wrath of the referee by clattering into a Barnoldswick player midway through the West half, Matthew Cavanagh glanced the resulting free-kick across Aaron Ashley and into the far corner of the net.

Barlick seldom looked like relinquishing the lead as the first half became increasingly fractious, but Tom Bailey should have equalised after 18 minutes when, after being sent clear by Matty Kay’s header, a poor connection allowed keeper Connor King to shovel the ball away low to his right. At the other end, the visitors were looking ominous on their forays forward – Ashley acrobatically tipped over a long-range Harry Thompson effort and Jake Lloyd should have put his side two up just before the break when he volleyed well over from close range.

West had trailed to an early goal at Winsford, but unlike last Saturday there was to be no revival as the home side continued to find opportunities at a premium in the second period. The occasional half-chance came and went – Daryl Weston’s header was nudged onto the bar by King following another Steer delivery, and Saul Henderson shot straight at the keeper from a tight angle after West had conjured up a rare flowing move down the right-hand side. But West were destined to register a blank for the first time in nine games, and after another fast Barnoldswick break was prematurely ended on the edge of the box, Andrew Hill curled a fine free-kick around the wall and beyond Ashley to seal the visitors’ third successive win.

Settle will be hoping his side responds to this disappointing defeat in the same way they strung together those six wins after losing to Runcorn Town in September – a similar run will also mean progression in two cups, as West welcome Northern League side West Auckland Town in the FA Vase on Saturday before visiting local rivals Maine Road in the Manchester Premier Cup the following Monday.

West: Ashley, Tinker, Parr, McGrath, Weston (Kilheeney 70), Potts, Steer, Rydings (Botchey 81), Bailey, Kay, Henderson (Woodward 66). Not used: Whyment, Hagon.

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