Skelmersdale Utd 1 – 4 Irlam

Match report by Martin Stewart


After Saturday’s defeat, the manager made several changes to the starting lineup, Karamo Sesay was back at the heart of defence, whilst Ben Lightfoot was brought in at right back. Lee McConchie was asked to reprise the role in central midfield he played so well against Daisy Hill and Joel Ogiugo was moved out to wide left in place of Kristian Knowles. Most exciting for the supporters though was a long awaited first start of the season for much loved speed demon Reuben Denton.

Just five minutes in and Denton showed why the fans love him so much with a speedy run half the length of the pitch before being caught in the box. Two minutes later and it was the turn of another fan favourite Ben Barnes to race clear of his box and clear a through ball as Mason Everton threatened to latch onto it.

Very early on, it was clear how both teams were going to play this one. Skem looking for long balls over the top to Denton whilst Irlam were using both wings to good effect.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring on 15 mins, when a cross into the box from wide was met by the head of Millen Brown. It looked at first as though he was too far out to trouble Barnes, but the header looped up and crept just underneath the bar.

It only took Skem two minutes to equalise, Dana Amaral won the ball brilliantly in the centre circle and fed it early to Denton who still had 30 yards to go to goal. He raced beyond the stranded Irlam defence and shot low across the keeper much to the home fan’s enjoyment.

Another three minutes later and Denton almost got a second that would have been goal of this or any other season. In a quick break out of defence, Louie Lancaster found himself out on the left wing, and swung a tantalising ball across the 18-yard area, Denton dived at full stretch to get a head on the ball, but it went agonisingly past him.

Irlam got their second on 33 mins and it was another beauty. Jacob Holt, twisting and turning his way into the box from left back before curling an unstoppable shot high into the far corner of the goal. There was just time for Lightfoot to clear a goal bound shot off the line, with Barnes beaten before the ref blew for half time 1-2.

The second half very much belonged to the visitors with everything Skem tried for long periods ending at the halfway line. There was an attempted overhead kick from Ogiugo from a free kick into the box and another shot cleared off the Skem line after Declan Daniels rounded Barnes.

Every game since his return, Barnes has made at least one save that made you rub your eyes and say, ‘Did I just really see that?’ and this game was no exception. On 78 minutes, he appeared to have been beaten twice from close range by Daniels before each time stretching out one of those massive paws and deflecting the ball away.

But eventually Irlam had to get the goal their pressure deserved, and it was that man Daniels, who has scored an incredible thirteen goals already this season, who couldn’t be denied. Joe Blanchard gave the ball away to the danger man just outside the box and with a chance begging he coolly chipped Barnes from 18 yards.

Just before full time Daniels got his team’s 4th and his own 15th of the season when Irlam broke the full length of the field through Mitchell Henry. He squared to Daniels who slotted past Barnes FT 1-4.

Another defeat for this young side who have shown in fits and starts they can play, but they can also fall apart too, and they quickly need to start doing more of the former.

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