Garstang began the year with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Bacup Borough at the weekend.
In the reverse fixture, Garstang didn’t get the rub of the green with a couple of game-changing decisions and were itching for revenge to continue their winning run against sides above them in the league.
Once again manager Lee Baker had a number of players absent with Jake Salisbury, Jonny Hothersall and Rob Walker all missing the game, while Tom Graham was serving the last game of his suspension.
On a positive note, Josh Westwood, who continues to work to get back to full fitness, was on the bench along with Shaun Sailor, who is slowly recovering from the injury he received at Longridge Town.
The early exchanges saw Garstang in the ascendancy and they almost took the lead when Billy McKenna and Tom Entwisle combined to set up Ric Coar, who slipped as he was getting his shot away.
Garstang continued to attack and won a corner on the left.
The corner was whipped in at pace by Entwisle and Kieran O’Connor timed his run perfectly, powering home a header from close range to give Garstang an early lead.
Will Kitchen hit a pinpoint clearance to Ben Roberts, who got free down the left but shot straight at the well positioned keeper.
Bacup started to get themselves into the game and could have equalised when a cross from the right was headed over the bar from close range.
Minutes later, the visitors had their best chance to score when Phil Nagy was unlucky to have been adjudged to have tripped a Bacup player just inside the box.
The resulting penalty was hit low down to Kitchen’s right but the Garstang’s keeper’s impressive penalty-saving reputation was enhanced further when he brilliantly saved the shot at full stretch.
Jack Swindlehurst had a great 20-yard effort well saved and Coar went close with another good effort kept out.
At the other end, Bacup missed a glorious chance when a cross was hit over the bar at full stretch right in front of the Garstang goal.
With the game becoming stretched, O’Connor found Roberts down the right where he hit a pass into Coar’s path but his shot was smothered at close range by the Bacup keeper.
No further clear-cut chances were created as the Riversiders preserved their one-goal lead at half-time.
The second half was not as exciting as the first with clear-cut chances at a premium but Kitchen made another great save to keep the lead intact.
Baker made a double change to bring fresh legs on with Sailor and Reece Barrett replacing McKenna and Entwisle.
Bacup attacked and saw O’Connor stop a certain goal with a brilliant last-gasp block while Cam Ross had another strong game at centre-half.
Roberts had a half-chance and the match became very attritional as the remaining part of the game was played out in a crowded midfield.
With the clock ticking down Westwood made his welcome return to action replacing Roberts as Baker shut up shop for the remaining minutes and Garstang were able to see out the game to make it three wins out of three.