Report: Ellesmere Rangers 1-0 West
Saturday 18th December 2021, NWCFL First Division South
Ellesmere Rangers 1 (Lloyd 26)
West slumped to a first league defeat of the season on a disappointing afternoon in Shropshire.
Owen Lloyd’s first-half header proved enough for Ellesmere’s ninth win of the season, with West struggling to create clear opportunites despite seeing much of the ball. Rhain Davis’ close-range header late on was the nearest the visitors came to levelling the scores, with keeper Arron Ecclestone throwing himself to his left to paw the ball away.
West started on the front foot, but failed to call Ecclestone into serious action with Billy Matthews and Harry Cain both firing wide of the near post from tight angles. Dontai Gabidon’s teasing cross then flashed across goal without a touch, but an early sign that it wasn’t West’s day materialised when Matthews was forced off with an injury.
Andrew Jones had been a spectactor for much of the opening 25 minutes, but he was forced to pick the ball out of his net as Lloyd gave Ellesmere the lead – after West had failed to fully clear a corner, Lloyd nodded a second delivery across Jones and into the far corner of the net.
The home side grew in confidence after their opening goal and began to stretch the West defence more regularly, while the Ellesmere back line were relatively comfortable mopping up balls into the box.
Ellesmere withdrew back into their own half after the break, but West found it just as difficult to create genuine opportunities against a resolute back line. West belatedly arrived as a serious attacking threat after Ezeikel Eme was introduced with 15 minutes remaining, with the substitute having a pair of shots charged down not long after joining the action.
West threw players forward in the dying moments in a bid to salvage their unbeaten league record, but the golden chance came and went when Davis’ flicked header was spectacularly kept out by Ecclestone.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Westall, Gavin, Tinker, Heathcote, Matthews, Davis, Elliott, Cain, Gabidon. Not used: Hancock, Ryan.
Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Ezeikel Eme.