MATCH REPORT | Abbey Hey 1-2 West
Friday 6th April 2018, NWCFL Premier Division
Abbey Hey 1 (Boyle 6)
West 2 (Steer 34, Eckersley 70)
Matt Eckersley’s second goal in as many games sealed a third consecutive win for West as they fought back from a goal down at the Abbey Stadium.
Peter Boyle gave the home side the lead as they dominated the opening exchanges, but Ben Steer’s latest entry to his personal goal of the season competition levelled the scores before half-time. Eckersley, who converted a Steer corner at Charnock Richard last weekend, repeated the trick in the second half as West’s spring resurgence continues.
West’s travelling fans roared their approval of a result which propelled Steve Settle’s team into the top half of the Premier Division ahead of Saturday’s fixtures, but they were given precious little to cheer in a sluggish opening period. The home side struck early on – Peter Boyle swivelling on a pass 25 yards from goal and whipping a shot beyond Aaron Ashley – and could have increased their lead as West struggled to gain a foothold. Daniel Heffernan turned a cross over from inside the six-yard box, and Ashley pawed away Robert Swallow’s connection with a Boyle delivery.
Abbey keeper Ross Heywood had barely touched the ball in the first 30 minutes but, not for the first time this season, Steer hauled West back into the match with a moment of individual brilliance. Chris Middleton’s chipped pass down the left channel found the West number 7, and he cut inside before sending a fierce shot into Heywood’s top-right corner.
Steer’s goal settled West, and he almost conjured a second before the interval – he twisted and turned inside the Abbey box, making his way to the byline and delivering a low cross which Ash Woods fired over from close range.
The visitors’ improvement continued after the interval. They almost took the lead before some fans had emerged from the clubhouse – Lanre Olapade motored into the Abbey area and created a chance for Woods, but March’s player of the month saw his effort beaten away by Heywood. West were knocking on the Abbey door, though – substitute Steven Affleck slashed a Steer cross wide at the far post, and Tom Bailey forced a corner which eventually found its way into the keeper’s arms.
The pressure told with 20 minutes remaining. Eckersley rose gloriously to meet a Steer corner and deposited a firm header high past Heywood before celebrating with the exultant visiting support. With West now firmly in the ascendancy, a third goal almost followed soon afterwards – the typically industrious Woods hooked in a cross from the left wing and Chappy Massamba was narrowly off-target with his header.
But just as West had pegged Abbey back with a late equaliser at Brookburn Road six weeks ago, the home side looked to stage a late show of their own. Affleck collected a yellow card for scything down a home forward inches outside the penalty area, and as the match ticked over into stoppage time Ashley excelled himself in denying Peter Watling when the Abbey forward broke clear. The value of that save was writ large when the referee blew for time moments later to confirm a fourth win in six games for West, for whom the spectre of relegation is increasingly a distant memory.
West: Ashley, Olapade (Massamba 74), Tinker, Middleton (Rogers 50), Eiselt, Eckersley, Steer, Whyment (Affleck 29), Bailey, Kay, Woods. Not used: Dickenson.