Skem fight hard as lead­ers sneak win

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Martin Mere - BY NEIL LEATHERBARROW

SKELMERS­DALE United ended 2018 with a de­feat but one which will give pos­i­tives for 2019 af­ter a nar­row 2-1 loss at league lead­ing Run­corn Lin­nets.

Paul McNally wel­comed John Keat­ley and Joel Dou­glas into the line-up af­ter re­cent un­avail­abil­ity while hand­ing an in­stant de­but to Matthew Cough­lan af­ter he joined from Wit­ton Al­bion in the week.

Run­corn who had five for­mer Skelmers­dale play­ers in their start­ing eleven claimed the first chance of the af­ter­noon as for­mer Skem de­fender Louis Cor­ri­gan’s curl­ing free-kick in the open­ing min­utes found the arms of goal­keeper Terry Smith.

Smith was called into ac­tion again in the fifth minute as he de­nied Fred­die Pot­ter’s header from a corner, Paul Shan­ley flick­ing an ef­fort to­wards the far post for Lin­nets with Smith stretch­ing to claim the cross be­fore claiming a sim­i­lar ef­fort from Cor­ri­gan min­utes later and at the other end, a long range shot from James O’Hara saw Dy­lan Forth col­lect com­fort­ably.

A long range shot from Matthew Cough­lan on the half-hour mark took a wicked de­flec­tion by the Lin­nets de­fence who breathed a sigh of re­lief as the ball found goal­keeper Forth.

United should have opened the scor­ing on 34 min­utes, a lofted Cough­lan pass saw Ben Giverin cross low for Alex Grif­fiths who drew a su­perb stop from Forth from point­blank range with Joel Dou­glas’ re­bound blocked ahead of the line.

Six min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val, Kurt Sher­lock forced a fin­ger­tip save from Smith from a tight an­gle be­fore Aaron Mor­ris headed over from a corner.

As half-time ap­proached, Lin­nets ap­pealed for a penalty as Shan­ley’s cross can­noned off the arm of O’Hara but the of­fi­cial sig­nalled play on.

There was one more chance for each side be­fore the break; an an­gled header was claimed by Smith from Shan­ley while Grif­fiths’ corner was tipped past the post by Forth.

The sec­ond half be­gan with Thomas Grimshaw hit­ting a pow­er­ful shot just past the post ahead of Lin­nets break­ing the dead­lock on 51 min­utes, Zach Aley ris­ing to head Peter Wylie’s lofted cross past Smith for 1-0.

Run­corn pushed to ex­tend their lead, Cor­ri­gan test­ing Smith with an an­gled shot which he gath­ered be­fore clever work by Sher­lock on 72 min­utes saw him pick out Pot­ter who looked to slot home for 2-0, but he was de­nied by a stun­ning goal-line clear­ance from Cough­lan. United coun­tered and should have cut the deficit as the com­bi­na­tion of Grif­fiths and sub­sti­tute Ro­nan Darcy led to Grimshaw fir­ing nar­rowly over the bar.

An an­gled cross from Cough­lan min­utes later was spilled by Forth with sub­sti­tute Sean Yel­drem achingly close to cap­i­tal­is­ing.

As the game en­tered the fi­nal ten min­utes, United gifted Lin­nets the chance to dou­ble their lead, Molyneux up­end­ing sub­sti­tute Ryan Gib­son with the ref­eree award­ing a penalty, Cor­ri­gan stepped up and slot­ted into the bottom corner for 2-0.

United kept their heads up and in­stantly ben­e­fited from Paul McNally’s tac­ti­cal change, a lofted pass from sub­sti­tute Ro­nan Darcy saw Will Dunne flick on for newly des­ig­nated striker John Keat­ley to slot past Forth for 2-1.

The fi­nal whis­tle sounded min­utes later with Lin­nets cel­e­brat­ing the win and re­tain­ing top spot into 2019 while United de­spite end­ing the year bottom of the ta­ble, but did so with a pos­i­tive per­for­mance.

Skem in ac­tion dur­ing Satur­day’s de­feat to Run­corn Lin­nets John Driscoll

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