Pilkington 2 – 2 Skelmersdale Utd

By Martin Stewart

After last gasp drama against Chadderton, Chimbonda made few changes to his side. Reuben Denton was restored in place of suspended Andreas Bianga and Anis Zaknoune came back in after injury with Yasir Salim dropping to the bench. The players took to a grubby looking pitch in an unusually dry and mild spell of weather with the Arcoframe stadium showing all the wounds of a storm the week before.

There were few chances for either side in the the opening 20 minutes as both cancelled each other out in the centre of the park. Omar Mbowe was caught napping in the 24th minute when Callum Laird stole the ball off him 25 yards from goal, but his shot was straight at the keeper.

On 36 minutes it was the turn of Skem to steal the ball in the middle as Mark Bollongino cleverly set up Denton with a clear run at goal. His shot was brilliantly saved by Matthew Slevin.

Callum Lees always seems up for these games against his old club and two very robust challenges in quick succession on the edge of his own box, set up a counter-attack for Pilks. The ball making its way to Laird who fired wide.

On 40 minutes Zaknoune broke free down the right and fired in a fierce shot from wide that was superbly tipped over by Slevin HT 0-0

Right from kick-off of the second half another mistake by Mbowe almost set up Laird again. The big Skem midfielder is very good on the ball, but sometimes needs to keep things more simple.

Skem started to get into the ascendancy and Yacin Amarzou had a snap shot deflected wide. But it would only take another minute for Skem to finally break the deadlock and the goal came from an unlikely source.

Slevin played an easy ball out to Rutherford but his pass back was too short and Zaknoune was on it like a flash. He confidently strode in towards goal and after rounding the keeper slotted into the empty net.

The lead would only last for 6 minutes, Pilks won a harsh free kick on the left edge of the penalty area. The angle looked too acute for a shot but Matthew Coughlan rolled a low cross into the box which evaded everyone and nestled in at the far post.

Still the visitors pressed on for another goal but disaster struck in the 69th minute with the whole team caught upfield a punt clear found a suspiciously offside looking Christopher Lomax. With no flag, he raced cleared and even though his low shot was well saved by Ben Barnes, Laird was on hand to scramble home the rebound.

As in the last game, Skem had been playing well enough to win but found themselves behind and it was time to once again lay siege to their opponents area.

Substitute Claudio Da Costa was finding a lot of space and made a clever turn in the area only to have his shot well blocked. Then Amaral had a pea-roller from distance that went inches wide.

With time running out Ben Barnes went forwards to support a corner. His header looked like it was sailing in at the far post, only for the body of team-mate Gabe Ellis to get in the way.

Finally with 4 mins of stoppage time played Digbeu got to the byline and played in Ellis inside the box, his low shot across the face of goal was stabbed in by Yasir Salim to send the fans into rapture FT 2-2.

Like buses, you wait 73 games for a draw and then two come at once. Its heartening that both of them were secured in the last minute by a team that now doesn’t know how to give up, but they were also both games which Skem have led and should have got all three points from. That must be the priority going forward now.

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