GARSTANG gave high flying Poulton a real scare on Saturday as they grabbed a deserved point and were unlucky not to claim their first victory of the season.
Michael Stringfellow’s rejuvenated side totally dominated third-placed Poulton in a one-sided first half that saw Garstang hit the crossbar and post before taking the lead just past the half hour.
Poulton fought back after the break to equalise and then go-ahead but Garstang responded heroically to force more chances and then a deserved equaliser 15 minutes from the end.
It was all Garstang in the early exchanges as the visitors took advantage of the strong wind.
Anderson screamed a shot narrowly over the bar then Stone stung the crossbar after a good set up by Poole. A Stringfellow free kick fell to Gierke who turned quickly but could only shoot wide.
Poulton couldn’t get out of their own half as Poole headed a Squirrell cross against the post with only 23 minutes played.
It was 32 minutes into the game before Poulton ventured into the Garstang penalty area with a Catlow free kick to the back post but former Garstang player, Danny Whitaker could only turn the ball into the grateful arms of Howell.
Garstang took the lead in the 34th minute when a toe poke of a shot from Stringfellow following a Swash corner found its way through a mass of players into the Poulton net.
Poulton defender Sharrocks was yellow carded for dissent before a last ditch tackle by Douthwaite on Poole prevented Garstang from going two up.
Battling against the elements and a determined Garstang defence Poulton did have a brief spell of pressure without ever breaching the visitors’ ranks.
A route one clearance by Benson found Gierke 35 yards out. Home keeper Bird was relieved when he saw the speculative shot from the Garstang striker sail over the bar.
The last action of the first half saw Dowthwaite get round the back of the Garstang defence but there was no one there to profit from the cross.
Poole, who was making his first start following a long lay off wasted a good opportunity to put the visitors further ahead before Poulton drew level in the 53rd minute.
Howell had done well to push wide a Catlow effort but from the resulting corner the Poulton midfielder had the final say when the kick with the aid of the strong wind found its way into the Garstang net.
Squirrell was booked for a foul on Douthwaite then Catlow was booked for a dangerous tackle that caused a midfield fracas which also resulted in a yellow for Gierke.
It was Catlow again who put Poulton in front in the 63rd minute when he seized on to a long clearance by his keeper smashing the ball past Howell.
It was an uphill challenge for Garstang at this point but respond to the challenge they did. Preston and Anderson combined well to create a chance for Gierke but the striker’s shot was kicked off the line with the keeper beaten. The deserved equalizer came in the 74th minute when Poole was the quickest to a Gierke cross diverting the ball past Bird in the home goal.
Panepinto came on for Poole who had done had job but in a nervous last 15 minutes Garstang had to thank Howell for keeping out a snap shot from Bimpson as the hosts strived for the winner.
Despite riding their luck as the final minutes ticked away no one could begrudge Garstang a share of the points in a game that they could also have won.
GARSTANG: Howell, Squirrell, Preston, Stringfellow, Benson, Buczynski, Stone, Anderson (rep. Horton 82 mins.) Gierke, Poole (rep. Panepinto 78 mins.) Swash UNUSED SUBS: Bardsley, Rice, Bee
* THE first team have no game on January 28 but the Reserves take on Charnock Richard Reserves in the second round of the Houston Cup, kick-off 1.30pm and on Sunday, January 29, the Youth Team are at home to Wyre, kick-off 11am.