MATCH REPORT | Charnock Richard 1-2 West

Saturday 31st March 2018, NWCFL Premier Division

Charnock Richard 1 (Grimshaw 26)
West 2 (Eckersley 5, Woods 51)
Att: 118

West made a perfect start to the Easter weekend with an excellent win at Charnock Richard.

Steve Settle’s side produced one of their best all-round performances of the season in central Lancashire and created enough chances to win the game three times over. In the end, however, Ash Woods’ ninth goal of the season proved decisive after Carl Grimshaw had cancelled out Matt Eckersley’s opener.

This was ideal preparation for Monday’s South Manchester derby against Maine Road, as well as increasing West’s buffer above the relegation zone to double figures. They were in the ascendancy immediately at Mossie Park – Jack Sergeant, returning after his international exploits with Gibraltar last weekend, had a shot deflected wide from the edge of the box. Ben Steer’s resulting corner found the unmarked Eckersley, who nodded in his first goal since returning to the club.

After establishing an early lead, the visitors swarmed over Charnock but a combination of slack finishing, last-ditch defending and inspired goalkeeping from Adam Halton prevented West from doubling their lead. Not long after Eckersley’s goal, a flowing move involving Woods, Tom Bailey and Joe Shaw ended with Steer firing against Halton’s legs at the far post. Woods then volleyed wide from the edge of the box before spurning a double chance – first seeing his close-range effort pawed away by the keeper before smashing a rebound over the bar. Later, Woods spun his marker collecting a Steer throw but prodded narrowly wide of the advancing Halton and the post.

With West politely refusing to go two goals ahead, there was an inevitability about the home side’s equaliser, not least the identity of the scorer – Grimshaw reacting quickest to Patrik Bibby’s cross to claim his 42nd goal of the season. The remainder of the first period was more even once the home side had restored parity, though Woods had another chance to score when, after being teed up by Steer, his half-volley was tipped over by the overworked Halton. But Charnock should have claimed a most unlikely of half-time leads when substitute Bibby miskicked at the far post in stoppage time.

The interval did little to dampen West’s enthusiasm and the excellent Woods’ perseverance finally paid off six minutes after the restart. Bailey was proving adept in his role as provider, and after his low cross narrowly evaded Steer, Woods was on hand to bury the ball past Halton and into the bottom corner of the net.

Woods hit the base of a post from another Bailey delivery shortly afterwards, but the home side were due their own spell of pressure. James Ollerenshaw, though, barely had to make a save thanks to the efforts of those in front of him, particularly the excellent Lanre Olapade. The West right-back swept away a low cross at the far post and then materialised in the six-yard box to snuff out a Charnock break just as the scores were about to be levelled.

The home side’s final push did result in two clear opportunities – Ashley Young headed a corner over and Grimshaw blazed over from inside the area – but an equaliser would have been incredibly cruel on West, who can now look forward to Easter Monday’s M21 tussle with relish.

West: Ollerenshaw, Olapade, Tinker, Sergeant, Middleton, Eckersley, Steer (Affleck 82), Shaw (Whyment 20 (Banya 88)), Bailey, Woods, Mason. Not used: Eiselt, Dickenson.

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