Two see red as Skem make dreadful start
THE plans of Skelmersdale United manager Dave Powell were in tatters after just nine minutes of the new season as his team were 3-0 behind.
And they got worse before they got better as they were reduced to ten men after 20 minutes.
Afterwards, Skem showed spirit to improve, although they eventually conceded another goal and had another man sent off, they can certainly consider they were unlucky not to score a couple of goals in reply.
The Skelmersdale defence was all too standoffish and square across the back early on and it cost them dearly.
Leek number nine Tim Grice ran at the home defence after about a minute, he dribbled around four players then laid the ball into the path of Niall Maguire who netted with a low shot from 12 yards.
In the fifth minute a long ball wasn’t dealt with properly and the ball ran to away midfielder Dan Trickett-Smith who ran on as the defence backed off, he then put a low powerful shot into the corner of the Skelmersdale goal from 20 yards.
Three minutes later Skelmersdale goalkeeper Chris Cheetham made a double save from a Trickett-Smith free kick as Leek continued to pile on the pressure.
In the ninth minute possession was lost midway inside Skem’s half, Maguire pushed the ball through to Grice who was one on one with Cheetham and stroked the ball past him to make it 3-0.
Skelmersdale could easily have collapsed there and then but to their credit they started to make some progress up the other end but were then dealt what can only be described as a killer blow in the 20th minute.
A long ball was headed on and Trickett-Smith ran towards goal, just outside the penalty area, Callum Woods stretched from behind the player and appeared to get a touch to the ball, Trickett-Smith went down and a free-kick was given.
After a pause referee Michael Herzog, who had been behind play, brandished a red card.
Depending on your view it was at least harsh or downright wrong, especially as another defender was along- side the Leek player as he fell. But it completely ended any realistic hopes of a Skem recovery.
Cheetham made another double save to keep out Trickett-Smith’s free kick.
Leek continued to press and could have score again, but now Skem were counterattacking well and Leek goalkeeper Danny Roberts started to get busy - the keeper making an excellent save from Connor Belger’s 43rd minute left-foot shot.
The second-half saw Skelmersdale start well, with one player beginning to stand out for them, midfielder Paul Ennis who was involved in much of the positive stuff from Dave Powell’s side.
In the 53rd minute Ennis was at the heart of a quality build-up, the ball was swung out to the right and then fed inside to Jason Carey, his shot unluckily hit the far post and bounced out to Belger, somehow his effort didn’t go in, appearing to hit the same post then goalkeeper Roberts.
Leek were still having more of the possession but Skem were holding out well plus threatening up front too.
However on 63 minutes Leek won a free-kick in the penalty area ‘D’. Up stepped Trickett-Smith and he showed exactly why Liverpool had paid £300,000 for him a few years ago when he curled a beautifully weighted free-kick around the Skem wall to make it 4-0.
The final talking point came on 81 minutes and the reasons are still unclear.
Quite out of the blue Belger started shouting at the referee and booted the ball into the stand; he was shown the red card.
Unless appeals are made both Woods and Belger will miss Skelmersdale’s FA Cup tie at Ashton Athletic next week.
Ultimately though, it was the slow start that caused an impossible situation and their failure to deal with the outstanding Trickett-Smith that cost Skelmersdale.
Action from Skelmersdale United against Kendal Town on Tuesday night and (inset) Kevin Edgar misses a penalty. Skem lost the match 1-0