Skelmersdale Utd 2- 0 FC Isle of Man


Match report by Martin Stewart

Prior to this bank holiday weekend, Skem had gone 15 games without keeping a clean sheet.  They’d also won only one cup game and picked up zero points in the league.   Like buses though everything comes at once and after Saturday’s heroics the boys in blue turned in another good performance to earn their first three points of the season.
The biggest talking point before the match was the new kit they would be wearing.  They took to the field resplendent in crisp new royal blue shirts with a fetching yellow trim.  We know everyone needs the money that comes from a big-name sponsor across the chest and hopefully one is still out there waiting to fill the void and give Skem a much-needed cash boost, but you have to say there is something about a kit that doesn’t have a corporate name across the front, and it looked good on the lads today.

The opening exchanges were even as both sides traded blows in the middle of the pitch and Lancaster had a pot shot from halfway that was well wide of the posts.  Ogiugo, who had been switched to the number 9 role was looking particularly lively upfront.   On 12 minutes, Byron made the first of what would be many runs up the pitch, this time down the inside left channel, he turned his man to make space for a shot from the edge of the box but fired over.

Make no mistake though, this is a decent IOM side, who had won their previous four matches and as they settled started to cause problems of their own.  On the quarter hour, Fagan was dispossessed by Pinnington on the edge of his own box, his shot beat Barnes, but was cleared off the line, and after a bit of ping-pong in the box was eventually smuggled clear.

Four minutes later and another chance for Skem, this time a long punt from Barnes found Caldwell in the box who skipped past his man to throw a centre into Preece who tried to pick his spot with a shot that curled just wide.  Caldwell was then back in his own box just a minute later to put in a timely challenge on Quayle as he shaped to shoot.

Just before the half hour mark Barnes had to be quick off his line to smother a counterattack from the visitors as the wind and rain started to pick up and make the high balls both sides were playing difficult to judge.

Amaral got himself booked with a poorly timed and dangerous challenge in the centre circle and there was just time for the IOM captain Jones to find himself unmarked on the penalty shot, before swiping at empty air with the goal at his mercy.  HT 0-0

The first half was entertaining enough, but the second was even better.  It was the visitors who started the strongest, with Jones forcing a brilliant diving save from Barnes high to his right.  Four minutes later and Barnes had to come to the rescue again saving with his feet from Pinnington after Skem thought they should have had a free kick in the centre circle.

Skem had struggled to break forward for 15 minutes they finally earned a corner.  A wickedly inswinging ball from Knowles was headed clear in the middle and the resultant corner also caused chaos in the visitor’s penalty area.

Potter threw on the pace of Denton to replace Ogiugo upfront and the change gave Skem the outlet they needed.  On 71 minutes Luke Byron made another of those surging runs, this time down the right wing, his cross beat everyone in the box and Knowles’ shot was deflected wide.

Confident Skem were now asking all the questions, Byron played a perfect ball through to Amaral who shot agonisingly wide from a tight angle.  Skem had found the best way to hurt IOM was on the break and even though Pinnington was constantly causing problems at the other end you sensed that the breakthrough they needed was coming as the clock ticked down.

With just four minutes left Pinnington hit a thunderous strike against the post, perhaps these two sides who have between them so far played out 148 matches without a nil-nil were about to hit a blank after all?….Not a chance.  A minute later a sweeping move up the pitch led to Denton hitting the bar before Green headed home the rebound, the goal greeted like a world cup final winner by both home crowd and players alike.

Three minutes into stoppage time and with nails being bitten down to stubs in the stands and on the bench, Denton pressured the IOM keeper into a mistake, his clearance fell straight to Ward who gleefully took the ball forward unchallenged, rounded the keeper and stroked home to seal the win.  FT 2-0

An entertaining game for all and smiling faces on the home crowd as they left.  An important first three points on the board, and maybe just a hint that the green shoots of revival are starting to sprout for this team.

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