West Lancashire League - Reserve Divison 1
Euxton Villa FC Reserves 1 Garstang Reserves 3
Garstang were again on their travels, this time taking on Euxton whose lowly position is wholly artificial having played the lowest amount of games in the league.
Manager Bailey was expecting a tough encounter and this proved to be the case in a combative fixture.
As is now the norm, Garstang stated the game with a very high intensity and were soon in the lead. In only the fourth minute of play, the outstanding Jack struck a 30 yard free kick which the keeper could only parry, Swindlehurst saw his rebound shot blocked but the ever dangerous Panepinto was on hand to finish and Garstang were one up.
Euxton quickly recovered and soon the score was level with a controversial equaliser. An Euxton free kick was floated into the Garstang box, two Euxton players including the goal scorer appeared to be standing in an offside position, the linesman flagged but the referee over ruled the linesman and awarded the goal.
Garstang dusted themselves down and started to focus on pushing Euxton back. The centre midfield trio of Swindlehurst, Harrison and Southward never gave the Euxton midfield any time to play their short passing game and it was only a matter of time before Garstang would strike again.
After 35 minutes, wing back Sutcliff whipped in a superb corner towards the back post straight to Hay who managed to escape the attentions of two markers to power home a header into the top corner. There was still time for a Jack long range effort to be saved by the Euxton keeper and Garstang went into half time leading 2:1.
The second half saw Euxton trying to impose themselves on the game but to no avail,as Manager Bailey had set Garstang up perfectly to combat the Euxton style of play. Euxton were restricted to one half chance for the whole of the second half when the Euxton centre forward was able to turn on the edge of the Garstang box but fired his volley well over the bar. This was the only scare as Garstang started to break and counter quickly.
The home side started to get frustrated and Swindlehurst was the recipient of an “X rated” tackle which the Euxton player was lucky only to receive a yellow card for. Assalone came on for Shepherd and was immediately in action linking up well with Panepinto and was starting to cause havoc with his ability to run behind the Euxton centre backs.
Soon Assalone himself was subjected to a very heavy challenge when put clean through in the 90th minute. Once again the Euxton player was lucky only to see a yellow card being brandished instead of a red one. However, justice was soon done from the resulting free kick as Jack curled a stunning 25 yard free kick around the Euxton defensive wall and into the corner of the Euxton net. Following the restart the referee brought the proceedings to an end with Garstang being excellent value for their 3:1 victory.
This was an outstanding text book away performance with the team being able to absorb pressure, while always looking more likely to score when they attacked. Garstang Reserves sit proudly top of the league and with a six point lead over their nearest challengers. Next week sees the Reserves back at the Riverside entertaining Thornton Cleveleys with a 2pm kick off.
Manager Paul Bailey was clearly delighted with the overall team shape and execution of the game plan. The Managers Man of the Match award was a difficult choice today with Bailey struggling to choose between Jack, Panepinto and Hay, but Jack was the worthy recipient of the award having crowned his performance today with a stunning free kick.
Garstang Team: Curwen, Sutcliff, Hay, Miller, Baldwin, Southward, Jack, Shepherd (Assalone), Swindlehurst, Panepinto, Harrison (Roberts 84) Subs: Roberts, Assalone.