by Robert Lee · 02/12/2017
Saturday 2nd December 2017, NWCFL Premier Division
Barnoldswick Town 4 (Melia 13, Threlfall 49, 52, Dale 83)
West 1 (Woods 68)
A new month failed to herald a change of fortunes for West, as they opened December with another defeat which leaves them just five points above the Premier Division relegation zone.
Barnoldswick Town deservedly completed a league double over Steve Settle’s side, with the game effectively over as a contest following Mark Threlfall’s quickfire double at the start of the second half. West had already fallen behind cheaply when Joe Shaw presented Josh Melia with the ball after 13 minutes, and although Ash Woods nudged the door back open midway through the second half, Zack Dale slammed it shut with a final goal in the closing stages.
This was West’s eighth league defeat in succession, and though a spirited second-half effort could have been rewarded with more than one goal, it was pocked with common failings – surrendering the ball in dangerous areas and conceding goals in quick succession. Barlick winger Melia was the best player on the pitch by some distance, the West defence simply unable to cope with his skilful running and creative passing, but he surely didn’t need the kind of assistance he enjoyed in the opening stages when Shaw played the ball across the West half and straight into his path. Melia seized upon the chance and tucked the ball past Steve Dryden, and the visitors were in familiar territory.
Shaw and Tom Bailey had both passed up half-chances before the opening goal, but West would go into the interval relieved to be just one goal behind after Melia and Dale both called Dryden into action and Dale and Shaun Airey struck the woodwork. But Barlick were quick to take an iron grip on proceedings after the restart with two almost identical goals from centre-forward Threlfall. The second half was four minutes old when Melia wriggled free on the left and set up Threlfall at the near post, and three minutes later the number 9 scored from a similar position in the six-yard box to take the game away from West.
Perhaps freed by the fact they had no more to lose, West enjoyed their best period of the game following Barlick’s third goal. Bailey shot just over following a sharp turn on the edge of the box before the visitors were rewarded for their perseverance. Settle introduced himself for a first appearance of the season, and his good work down the right-hand side led to Woods finishing low past Barlick keeper Connor King for his first goal since returning to the club.
West briefly threatened an unlikely comeback when Bailey drew a sprawling King save following Woods’ cross, but the home side extinguished any such hopes with a fourth goal with seven minutes remaining. Melia, inevitably, was pivotal as Barlick broke from a West corner – his long pass drifted over the head of Hagon and into the path of Dale, and the number 7 rounded Dryden to have the final say. Shaw, Bailey and Settle all went close to a second consolation in the dying embers, but West must now focus on a Monday night meeting with second-bottom Darwen that they dare not lose.
West: Dryden, Tinker, Hilton (Whyment 53), Eiselt, Hagon, Potts, Steer (Settle 67), Sergeant, Bailey, Shaw, Woods. Not used: Pritchard, Brockley.