by Robert Lee · 18/11/2018
Saturday 17th November 2018, NWCFL Premier Division
West 2 (Derbyshire 32, Shaw 76)
Litherland REMYCA 2 (Donnelly 39, Clements 45+1)
West were forced to settle for a point after a pulsating Brookburn Road encounter with Litherland REMYCA.
A trademark Joe Shaw free-kick hauled West level with a quarter of an hour remaining, and despite being roared on by a season-high crowd of 409, the home side were unable to convert one point into three. Earlier, debutant Mark Derbyshire had made an instant impact by heading in a corner before Litherland turned the game around with two quick goals just before the interval.
It is a point that does little to improve West’s position in the relegation zone, particularly as Winsford United pulled two points clear with a win against Whitchurch Alport, but the Merseyside visitors would have justifiably felt aggrieved to have left Manchester empty-handed as they had enough chances to win the game themselves. And as well as a bustling debut from Trafford loanee Derbyshire, Steve Settle can point to a typically electrifying cameo from the returning Ashley Leather as West look to build up momentum ahead of a pivotal run of fixtures.
This breathless encounter swung from end to end straight from the kick-off – within three minutes, Derbyshire had forced a corner that ended with Abel Tsegaye shooting over from outside the box, and moments later a Remy effort flashed across the face of Marcus Burgess’ goal.
The towering Derbyshire had a series of chances to mark his Brookburn Road goal with a bow, taking a touch too many when free in the box before nodding a Tsegaye cross wide of the far post, but he did make his mark shortly after the half-hour. Scott Mason’s corner from the right was met powerfully by the West number 9 who buried his header deep into the Remy net.
But the visitors were still pressing at the other end and claimed a deserved equaliser with stylish finish from George Donnelly, who collected the ball on the left-hand corner of the box, took a touch, and flighted the ball over Burgess and into the far corner. And worse was to come in time added on as West failed to pick up Ashton Clements at a Remy free-kick and he was free to nudge the ball into the net.
West were now staring at the prospect of defeat in a match that they simply could not afford to lose, but a second-half chance failed to materialise until just before the hour mark when Derbyshire glanced a Ben Woods corner narrowly the wrong side of the post. But Steve Settle had a trump card in the form of winger Leather, who returned to the matchday squad after over two months out with a shoulder injury. The West boss made three changes in quick succession with Lee Gavin and Shaw also entering the fray, and immediately West looked more dangerous as Leather won a corner that was headed over by Matt Eckersley.
But West didn’t have to wait long for an equaliser – after Derbyshire was felled on the edge of the area, set-piece specialist Shaw assumed responsibility and bent the ball over the Remy wall and in via the crossbar.
The momentum was now with the home side, but Remy had claimed points in their previous three matches with late goals and the visitors remained dangerous – immediately after Shaw’s leveller, Burgess was called into action to block a low shot before the rebound hit the outside of the post. And the West keeper excelled himself with five minutes remaining when he threw himself to his right to block a header from point-blank range following a wide set-piece.
The final chance of a thrilling afternoon fell to West. Another Woods corner was met at the near post by Derbyshire, but with half the ground already celebrating a dramatic winner, the West striker could only head the ball wide of the Remy goal. A point apiece was a fair outcome but West will go to Ashton Athletic on Tuesday night knowing that they need to find the winning formula as soon as possible.
West: Burgess, Foulds, Pearson, S. Mason (Gavin 65), Eckersley, Potts, Tsegay (Leather 68), Andrews, Derbyshire, Kay (Shaw 72), Woods. Not used: Eiselt, Cooper.