Skem Battle to Impressive Draw

By Martin Stewart

After the awful performance against Charnock, the manager was able to bring a few players back into the team for this one. Ben Barnes recovered from a knock to take his place back in goal, whilst Yacin Amarzou and Joel Ogiugo returned to the starting line-up. Mark Bollongino added to the bench after recovering from the injury picked up at Bury a month ago.

Both sides took to the pitch on a sunny and mild early spring day and the opening five minutes of the match were pretty even as they felt each other out.

The first shot in anger was fired by the visitors on 8 minutes, a free kick from 25 yards was pitched into the crowded area where Oliver Ford was able to place straight at Barnes.

Four minutes later and ‘West’ had a great buildup down the right wing, the ball was crossed onto the head of Lewis Billingsley just 12 yards out but his header flew well wide.

Skem opened the scoring on 16 minutes in unconventional style. A long ball forward from Pascal Chimbonda was expertly flicked into the path of Thomas Smith by Claudio Da Costa. With the whole goal at his mercy and defenders and keeper closing in, the youngster calmly steered his shot low inside the post to send fans behind the goal wild.

Gaining in confidence, Skem now began to control the play and a brilliant through ball was played by Smith to Amarzou. The skipper’s shot was sadly unconvincing and the chance went was lost.

Heeding the warning, the visitors from south Manchester stepped up a gear and on 29 mins were level. Benjamin Elliott was found at the near post by a cross from the left and after a brilliant turn, smuggled the ball past Barnes.

As the half neared its conclusion Barnes had to be out quickly to gather at the feet of Billy Matthews who had been put through on goal.

Then there was a commotion behind the goal Skem were attacking, with keeper Alexander Hughes frantically waving for the attention of the ref. A member of the Skem Ultras had collapsed behind the goal and the referee took both sets of players off the pitch whilst both physios attended to him. Thankfully the supporter was OK and after a 20 minute delay the teams came back out to play the remaining six mins of the half HT 1-1

Just three mins into the second half the visitors had a shout for handball in the area turned down by the ref.

A minute later and Da Costa found himself clear on goal, Hughes getting down well to parry his low shot.

The action continued two mins later as Amarzou gave the ball away in the middle, leaving Billingsley free to get down the left. He played a high ball across to the far post but the header from Ford was poor.

On 53 mins a long ball up to Ogiugo caught defenders off guard, but his attempt to lob the keeper was not well executed.

28 mins and Smith set up Amarzou on the edge of the box but his shot was too close to Hughes.

At the other end a fierce cross found Molloy free in the area, but he headed over the bar.

As the match ticked into added time, West finished on the front foot, first a McHugh shot from a tight angle hitting the outside of the post and then a speculative effort from distance by Hampson brough a flying save from Barnes.

An entertaining game ended with both sides taking a deserved share of the points FT 1-1.

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