Atherton LR 1 Garstang 2: Late winner gives the Riversiders a crucial three points

Garstang FC's Jake Salisbury
Garstang FC's Jake Salisbury

Garstang climbed to 16th in the Hallmark Security League First Division North table after a 2-1 win at Atherton LR in midweek.

Against a side in the midst of a poor run of form, and having recently appointed a new manager, Garstang gave a debut to James Foster while Ben Roberts was back in the starting XI.

Garstang were the much stronger side in the first half, although trying to play any sort of passing game was almost impossible due to the bobbly, soft pitch.

Roberts and Jake Salisbury looked dangerous down the flanks but resolute defending kept the Riversiders’ opportunities to a minimum.

At the other end, keeper Will Kitchen easily dealt with crosses and long through balls and was only troubled once when a shot flashed past the upright.

This proved to be the only scare of the half as Garstang took a 27th minute lead when Kristian Stephens’ free-kick eluded everyone and nestled into the bottom corner.

Garstang had to make an enforced change when Alan Coar limped off and was replaced by Andrew Murphy, but it did little to disrupt them up to half-time.

The early moments of the second half continued in the same vein but calamity struck when the already booked Billy Joyce received his marching orders for a shirt pull.

For much of the half, the Riversiders defended superbly from front to back and restricted the home side to no real efforts on goal.

That was until the 76th minute when Nathan Strong cut inside from the right and hit a shot that took a deflection and left Kitchen stranded to level the scores.

Atherton proceeded to apply more pressure but Garstang held firm and still looked dangerous.

Stephens’ audacious shot from inside his own half went just over the bar but, with five minutes left, Murphy found space and sent a pinpoint cross for Salisbury to score from close range.

Atherton tried everything to fashion an equaliser but Garstang saw out the game and took victory.