Lee Baker’s Garstang side continued their excellent run of results with a 1-0 victory in a very close encounter at Thornton Cleveleys.
The first half of this game was evenly balanced with clear goalscoring chances at a premium.
Tom Graham was subjected to a couple of very cynical, agricultural challenges that on another day could easily have seen a card.
The Coar brothers were struggling to get a foothold on the game and were generally well marshalled by an organised Thornton defence.
Alan Coar shot wide with a half-chance, Carlo Matichechia could have done better with a header following an excellent Graham corner, while at the other end, Dan Curwen saved well low down.
Garstang were very solid at the back with both Danny Birch and Gary Fawcett making some telling interceptions.
With Chris Byrne and Alex Colquhoun providing an excellent defensive screen in front of the back four, it was unsurprising that the score was 0-0 at half-time.
At the start of the second half, Thornton had to reshuffle their formation due to injury and switched to a conventional back four.
This provided a little more freedom in the middle of the field and Garstang looked a far more dangerous attacking unit.
Rick Coar should have done better after he shot high and wide, Dave Jack whipped in a couple of excellent crosses from wide positions which were unable to pick out a Garstang player, and on the other side, Andrew Murphy was making some dangerous runs down the left.
A nice move almost gave Garstang the lead when Alan Coar held the ball up well and hit a diagonal crossfield ball into the path of Jack on the right-hand side.
Jack’s cross was met by Rick Coar but his goalbound shot was blocked and it went wide of the Thornton post.
The Thornton keeper was kept busy and his handling was excellent, while at the other end, Curwen was not really called into action until later on in the game
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 51st minute when Alan Coar turned a Graham header into the Thornton net from very close range, following a Rick Coar cross, and Garstang were deservedly in the lead.
Curwen hit a pinpoint clearance onto Rick Coar’s head whose flicked header set brother Alan up for a shot from just outside the Thornton box; he was unable to keep his shot down, however, and the Thornton keeper was untroubled
Thornton started to go longer in search of an equaliser and Curwen’s handling was excellent while Matichechia and Fawcett were winning virtually everything in the air.
In the 77th minute one of these long balls paid dividends for Thornton when the otherwise excellent Matichechia was caught slightly the wrong side of the attacker and his clumsy tackle was viewed as a penalty.
To many observers this looked a harsh decision but the Thornton player stepped up and hit his penalty hard and low towards the corner of the Garstang goal only to see Curwen pull off a wonder save, diving low to his right and getting a firm hand on the penalty to divert the ball away.
From this point on Garstang never looked back and in the remaining minutes of the game a Thornton player saw his marching orders for directing abuse at one of the match officials.