Chadderton 3 – 2 Skelmersdale Utd

Match Report by Martin Stewart.

If Saturday’s baking sunshine was the summer hanging on for the last pickings of the year, then tonights cold, wet and miserable conditions were the autumn slapping it in the face and saying ‘move over its my turn’.

There was just one change from Saturday’s stirling performance at Barnoldswick, Ben Lightfoot being brought back into his natural central midfield position in replace of Lee McConchie, whose absence also meant the captain’s armband being handed back to Ben Barnes.

The opening exchanges were nip and tuck but it only took the hosts 10 minutes to open the scoring when Malakai Fry lost the ball in his own box and it was played straight out to Connor Hughes at the top corner of the box. His shot high to the top left of the goal proving unstoppable for Barnes.

Despite the early setback there were some good exchanges between Reuben Denton and Gabriel Ellis upfront for Skem, renewing the understanding they had shown glimpses of on Saturday.

But just 8 minutes later and Chadderton scored again. This time a quick exchange of passes down the left flank, led to the ball being centred into Jordan Jones who could make no mistake from 12 yards.

Despite being two goals down though, Skem started to show some fighting spirit. On 30 mins Dana Amaral dispossessed an opponent on the edge of the box and went on a run before his shot was charged down twice by covering defenders.  On 42 minutes Luke Byron set up Denton but his shot was pushed round by the keeper for a corner. A minute later Lightfoot smashed a shot at goal that hit a defender so hard he had to go off for treatment. And just as half time approached. Byron was upended by a nasty challenge that led to two home players being booked HT 0-2.

The second half got off to a brilliant start. Byron went on another of those characteristic charges into the box, this time he was fouled in the area and the ref pointed to the penalty spot. Byron picked himself up to drive the penalty down the middle and bring the score back ro 2-1.
Three minutes later and Lightfoot played in Denton again in the inside right position, his first touch was poor but he still managed to send a wicked ball across the box.

Just as the home side were starting to panic, a quick breakout by Kain Dean, who played the ball into Krisel Prifti, he ran into the box unchallenged and smashed a shot which beat Barnes on his near post to restore the two goal advantage.

The goal didn’t dent Skem’s enthusiasm, and travelling fans reacted to a team that were clearly up for the fight. Bollongino was brought on to replace Denton and it took him just three minutes to get on the scoresheet. Intercepting a poor backpass across the 18 yard line, the subsitute seized on the opportunity to place his shot low to the goalkeeper’s right.

Skem were now looking for the equaliser, against a side which has started the season well and were sitting in 6th place before this match.
On 68 minutes. Ellis stole the ball wide on the left and managed to get a shot that drifted across the goal.

On 71 minutes a breakaway from Lightfoot got Skem forward and he played an inch perfect pass into Caldwell who’s chip into box was cleared for another corner. The game was now end to end as both sides looked to counter-attach each other.

Lightfoot was having a great game and bossing the midfield for long periods so it was a massive blow when he appeared to twist an ankle on 85 minutes and need to be carried off the field. Along with him seemed to go Skem’s last hopes of rescuing a well deserved point FT 3-2.

Another defeat on the road, but another fighting performance from the team.  Onwards to league leaders Kendal Town on Friday night and another tough test.   Play like they did here for long spells though and Skem can certainly give them a game.

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