Cheadle Town 2 – 1 Skelmersdale Utd

by Martin Stewart

A cold and wet end to what has been at times a warm and sunny September, this ground is set in the leafy suburbs of South Manchester and Stockport and lies directly underneath the flightpath to what we used to call Ringway Airport.   A plane spotters paradise in the roomy main stand.

The teams took to the field with a few changes from the midweek home drubbing by Ramsbottom, Malikai Fry was back in at left back, whilst Lee McConchie returned to the centre of defence.  Louie Lancaster was recalled to midfield in place of the injured Jesse Dowling.

The ref blew for the start of the game on what was already looking like a heavy pitch as an Easyjet 737 landing from Madrid sailed overhead. It was difficult for both sides to get to grips with the pitch, the ball not rolling as well as you would normally expect and the opening minutes brought not much to mention.

After 8 minutes Skem earned a free kick wide on the left about 30 yards from goal.   Luke Byron swung it into the box where appeared out of nowhere, Ben Lightfoot.    His header back across goal looked far too weak to trouble the goalkeeper, but as if mesmerised by its preciseness, the keeper made no effort to try and save it, and it crept almost in slow motion into the far corner, watched intently on its way into the net by the passengers and crew of an Emirates A380 coming in from Dubai.

Skem were now in the ascendency and three minutes later, a quick throw out from Ben Barnes to Fry, set him up for a great run down the WING, before he played a low cross into the FLIGHTPATH of Gabriel Ellis who couldn’t quite TAKE OFF enough to connect with the chance. On 19 minutes it was the home side’s turn to trouble goal, with a shot from Jack McConnell that FLEW wide after being deflected.

On 21 minutes Mark Bollongino was booked for an obvious pull back and seemed to injure himself in the process as he was immediately brought off to be replaced by Kristian Knowles.

Cheadle were now getting to grips with the game and were getting into lots of crossing positions, but not causing any real problems for the visitors.   They were however earning a lot of corners and it was inevitable that one would eventually bring an equaliser.

It wasn’t a tidy effort, floated into the ‘mixer’ and missed by everyone except the back of Kyle McGonigle’s head before bundling over the line, nobody cheered, not even those people 1000ft above who were just nearing the end of a long trip from Adelaide via Singapore.

As the rain now got stronger, the game got harder for both teams, but the goal seemed to spur Skem on as they continued to create more chance.  One on the turn from Dana Amaral which sailed over when well placed and a near post corner near the end of the first half that was met perfectly by the head of Gabriel Ellis, but went just wide.

Despite the lazy references to the aircraft overhead, it had been an entertaining first half in difficult conditions and the second half would prove to be even more tasty.

The visitors started off the second the way they ended the first, on the front foot.  Luke Byron was upended on the edge of the box after a typical twisting, turning run, but no foul was given.  Three minutes later and the same man latched onto a chip over the top, he laid the ball back for Ellis whose shot was deflected for a corner.   The corner was squirmed out to Amaral, who smashed his shot into the side netting.

When the home side replaced Max Sutton with Kaleb Parkinson on 55 minutes, United’s Fry might have been forgiven for thinking his afternoon’s work was over, he’d done a great job of containing the tricky winger.  But his problems were only just beginning as the sub proved to be just as troublesome as the man he replaced.   The hosts were now getting back into the game and creating dangerous chances of their own.  A run down the left by Jones, ended with him skipping between two defenders and shooting at goal, another effort deflected wide.   On 67 minutes Parkinson laid a great ball into the path of Omar Ibrahim, who inexplicably scuffed his shot wide from 8 yards out.

At the other end, Skem were still creating chances, Ellis had a pot-shot from distance that sailed over and Reuben Denton, on for Louis Lancaster, was latching onto long balls played inch perfectly into his path by Ben Lightfoot, who had now been moved up into midfield.

The game was ebbing and flowing in both directions, on 80 minutes, McConchie got away with a poor tackle inside the box, but the ball still found its way to Murray who shot point blank straight into the chest of Barnes.

Three minutes later and McConchie led out a charge from defence, he had four men running up in support and an equal number of opponents struggling back to cover.  Sadly the move came to nothing, but this was an absorbing contest now, so much so that I swear I saw a British Airways A380 from New York pause overhead so that the pilot could get a good look at the action.

It was looking like whoever got the next goal would win this one, and sadly for Skem it was the home side that got it.   Just three minutes from securing what would have been a very fair point each, a corner from the left wasn’t cleared properly, it fell to Parkinson who played the ball back inside to Knight who placed his shot expertly under Barnes and send his team-mates and fans home happy.

FT 2-1 Attendance 92 on the ground and 4,755 in the skies above (a new league record).

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