Match report: Hesketh Bank 2 Garstang 1

Garstang's early celebrations were cut short as they were beaten in their first game of 2017
Garstang's early celebrations were cut short as they were beaten in their first game of 2017
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West Lancashire League

Manager Lee Baker shuffled his formation and Dave Jack was recalled to the starting XI to replace Danny Birch, who had joined Lancaster City over the Christmas break.

In a game played in poor visibility and on a very, very heavy pitch it was never going to be a game of silky, passing football.

In the first 40 seconds of the game Garstang were ahead when Alex Colquhoun fired home after a quick, incisive attack.

The home side rallied following the setback of losing this early goal and started to play themselves back into the game.

Hesketh should have equalised when a smart passing move led to an excellent cross from the right, only for the attacker to have his goalbound shot deflected past the Garstang post by onrushing defenders.

Jonny Hothersall made a darting run, beating a number of players before laying the ball wide to Colquhoun whose excellent cross just missed the lurking Coar brothers.

Hesketh drew level when some neat interplay down the inside-left channel freed up Richie Burns who, despite Dan Curwen’s best efforts, got his shot away which looped into the net off the keeper’s body.

The remainder of the half was very even with both teams cancelling each other out.

Byrne had a shot fly just wide of the post following a corner but Garstang were struggling to create any further clear cut opportunities.

The Hesketh Bank defenders had clearly learned their lesson from the previous fixture and were keeping tight control over the Coar brothers throughout the game as the match was 1-1 at half-time.

The second half was more of the same with the pitch neutralising any flowing football and the game was scrappy with clear chances few and far between.

Hesketh took the lead in the game in a controversial manner when, in the 48th minute, skipper Gary Fawcett was harshly adjudged to have pulled the shirt of the Hesketh winger down the right wing.

The resulting free kick was sent into the Garstang box, Curwen could only half punch the ball into the air and Milton was on hand to head home from eight yards to make the score 2-1.

A nicely worked short corner routine nearly resulted in an equaliser when Tom Graham crossed on to the head of Dave Jack whose header went agonisingly past the wrong side of the post.

The game become more attritional and manager Baker made some changes to try and freshen the game up with Murphy on for Dave Jack and Enefer coming on for Colquhoun.

The latter change allowed Fawcett to push into midfield, but despite these changes, the Hesketh keeper was not really troubled.

There was still time for another major talking point when a Garstang player went down with an injury while Garstang were in possession.

The referee stopped the play for treatment, and as per the usual etiquette of sportsmanship, the referee restarted play with an uncontested drop ball.

In an embarrassing lack of sportsmanship, the Hesketh player pointed to the side of the penalty box to indicate where he was going to pass the ball back to Curwen.

However, with Curwen standing 25 yards from his goal and on the extreme left-hand side of the box, the Hesketh player proceeded to smash the drop ball into the empty goal.

The Hesketh coaching staff claimed a goal but after the referee had restored order, it was disallowed and the offending player cautioned with what proved to be the last act of the game.