It was a tale of two keepers at Lightfoot Green as Danny Roccia helped Fulwood Amateurs to victory with some fine saves whilst one mistake from his opposite number saw Town come away with nothing. The defeat sees Town nine points behind league leaders Fulwood but they remain two points above Charnock Richard who drew 3-3 away at Coppull United.
A disappointed Lee Ashcroft said: ‘I’m obviously disappointed with the defeat. First half was the best we’ve played in a long while without scoring. We had a lot of possession but we couldn’t break them down. We had five half chances, if one of those went in it would be a different game. They got the goal on the stroke of half time from the only mistake we made first half.
Second half we huffed and puffed without putting the ball in the net. We had more chances than them. They’ve done the double over us and I’m gutted. They played the game right, they slowed the game down. Their keeper made some fine saves – he’s probably the best keeper in the league. He made one save in the last minute where it took two deflections and he somehow got to the bottom corner to save it. We go again, we’ve got a mountain to climb, we need to win as many as we can to stay in the position we’re in.’
Town, unchanged from last week, looked for a quick fire opener. Brad Carsley worrying the Fulwood rear-guard was fouled, he took the resulting free kick which went straight into the wall. Joe Melling clipped a delightful cross into the centre but no one was on the end of it.
The away side looked to press forward whilst Fulwood looked to contain the threat of Carsley. On the 16th minute the ball was played to Carsley’s feet, after escaping the attention of the defender he was unlucky to see his effort come back off the bar. Following the move the ball came out to the right and was lofted in for Ash Ball – was he pushed as he jumped? The ref said no and play continued.
Town were looking a threat on the right with both Melling and Jordan Tucker pumping balls into the box. Melling’s cross was punched as far as Troy Carsley whose half volley effort wasn’t far wide. Midway through the first half Town should have taken the lead; Tucker clipped the ball in. The ball ricocheted off the defence and fell to Ash Ball but he missed a glorious opportunity.
One minute before half time Fulwood, who had offered very little in the away of attack so far, created their first opportunity. Pete Wright lofted the ball forward to Mitch Newsham who was clattered by Hind. Hind received a yellow for the challenge. Wright stepped up and converted the penalty, placing it in the bottom right corner, just out of the reach of the Town number one.
The second half was a contrasting half with Fulwood looking to attack and they came close a few times within the opening 10 minutes. The closest was a free kick from Ged Smith whose attempt caused Hind problems due to the wind, but he gathered it after two attempts.
2nd placed Town seeing the match was going away from them took the initiative. Ryan McKenna had a good chance but ballooned the ball over. Ashcroft and Jonty McDonald came on to replace Jordan Bowen and Danny Wilkinson, showing a change in tactics and a more attacking approach. The match also saw the introduction of former Town favourite Rick Coar. Not too long into his appearance the former Town man was booked for a late tackle on substitute Conor Linighan.
Ten minutes before the end Brad and Troy Carsley linked. Troy Carsley’s initial effort was blocked and Ryan McKenna’s effort was well saved by Roccia. From the resulting corner McKenna was again denied by Roccia, his flicked goal bound effort was fantastically saved. Town continued to huff and puff and in the dying embers of the match Carsley crossed for Melling whose kneed effort was well saved.
There was still enough time for more excitement as substitute Brad Fox was racing through on goal. He was too quick for Hind who got his second yellow. Tucker took the goalkeeper jersey but Ged Smith’s free kick on the edge of the area sailed over the bar.