West Lancs League Div 1
Hurst Green 3
BAC/EE Preston 0
The Smithy Row pitch once again stood up to the elements, as Hurst Green welcomed BAC/EE Preston in the only fixture in the division to survive the rain.
The match started at a tremendous pace, as might be expected in a game featuring the third and fourth placed teams in the division. The visitors arguably edged the early exchanges, certainly in terms of possession.
Challenges were full bloodied, and Green’s first stab at goal, with ten minutes gone, came after McLean was victim of a late challenge by BAC Centre Half O’Rourke.
The defender’s name went into the referee’s book, but Hayes direct free kick was wide of the post.
The ball was flying all over the pitch, as both sides hunted for the first goal.
BAC almost took the lead on 26 minutes, when a shot from Westwood bobbled awkwardly in front of ‘keeper Mahon, but he somehow managed to fumble it out for a corner.
Mahon was on call 4 minutes later. A BAC corner lead to a goal mouth scramble, with Mahon throwing himself in front of a shot at point blank range, and Hayes cleared the follow up off the line.
Both sides showed plenty of attacking endeavour, and shots rained down on both ‘keepers.
There is never a bad time to score a goal, but on the verge of the half time whistle is always a good time. And so it was when Hurst Green broke forward, and Coar’s delightful lay off was powered home by McLean. 1-0 at half time, arguably against the balance of play.
The second half continued where the game had left off. Dunn, a constant threat for the visitors, showed great footwork coming in off the wing before unleashing a shot, and Green had Barnes to thank as he headed the ball off the line.
On 57 minutes, Green doubled their lead. A deep cross from Hayes was missed by Baldwin in goal, and with Coar making a nuisance of himself, the unfortunate O’Rourk saw the ball bounce of his shin into the goal.
Twenty minutes into the second half, manager Seedall made a double substitution. Coar and Byrne, both carrying small niggles, were replaced by Mort and Haworth.
Seconds later, Mahon was in action again. Hodgkiss found Dickinson unmarked at the edge of the box, but the visitors’ shot was safely gathered.
Hurst Green thought they had put the match beyond reach when a McLean shot was parried by Baldwin, with Hayes reacting quickest to score. However, the linesman adjudged him to have been in an offside position when the first shot came in.
Roles were reversed 5 minutes later, when a deep cross was headed over the line for the visitors, only for the flag to be raised.
On 76 minutes, Green cleared a BAC corner, and as veteran Aspinwall charged up field with the ball, BAC full back Chauhan unceremoniously scythed him down, earning the visitors another booking.
As the game approached its closing stages, BAC’s frustration in not getting on the score sheet began to show. Green stepped up a gear in response. Mort showed great feet in the box to feed to the on running McLean, however he spooned his shot over the bar.
Mort was again showing his trickery moments later, but again the shot was too high.
However, the inevitable happened on 83 minutes. Baldwin’s weak goal kick landed at the feet of McLean, and his deft through ball was finished with a sublime chip over the ‘keeper by Mort.
Seedall was effusive in his praise for all his players following a hard fought win that maintains the push for consecutive promotions.
Team: Mahon, Barnes, Aspinwall, Enefer, Bartlett, Cookson, Byrne, McLean, Coar, Hayes, Walker. Subs: Mort, Haworth, Scott, Bolton, Welch.