Charnock win 2-1 in their last game of the season against Whitchurch Alport at Mossie Park. Carl Grimshaw scored both goals one a penalty.
Charnock Richard 2 Whitchurch Alport 1
Monday 22nd April 2019, Hallmark Security League Premier Division
CHARNOCK RICHARD 2
WHITCHURCH ALPORT 1
Attendance : 108
Charnock Richard: Kyle Haslam, Spencer Bibby, James Walker, Ashley Young, Ross O’Farrell, Troy Carsley, Matt Davison, Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw, Joe Noblet (Oliver Oxley 84), Jake Higham (Alex Dodd 71). Subs: (Not Used) Owen Morris, Damian Dashti.
Whitcvhurch Alport: David Parton, Joe Minshall, Ben Chilcott (Luke Walley 60), Darren Campion, Leon Ashman, Callum O’Connor, Dylan Bath, Sean Griffiths Luke Goddard (Josh Hewett 69), Arron Johns (David Barnett 88), Lee Pickerill. Subs: (Not Used) Josh Dunne, Alex Hughes.
This final match of the season was an important day for Charnock Richard because it was the 777th that manager Andy Westwell would be in charge. The most successful boss in the history of the club had announced his retirement earlier in the season after 18 years as the manager and he received a guard of honour from both teams as he left the dressing rooms before the kick-off. Although Charnock had not challenged for the top spot this season there was still plenty to play for as they looked to improve on their present position of seventh in the table.
Whitchurch Alport, after winning promotion last season, had achieved their objective of retaining their place in the top division; they had scored two late goals to defeat the Villagers 3-2 at Yockings Park earlier in the season so Charnock were seeking revenge. When it came to the action on the pitch Charnock largely dominated the first half but only led 1-0 at half time the goal coming from a penalty. Whitchurch showed more enterprise in the second period and equalised and as the game preceded it looked as if the Villagers were going to be thwarted in their chase for the three points but with three minutes remaining Carl Grimshaw hammered the ball home and everyone was able to celebrate another win for Andy Westwell.
There were four changes to the side that started in the 5-2 victory on Easter Monday. Alex Dodd, Owen Morris and Damian Dashti all dropped to the bench and in came Spencer Bibby, Joe Noblet and Jake Higham. Oliver Turner was injured so Ross O’Farrell came in at centre back and with Ryan Schofield reporting that he had had a reaction after his substitute appearance against Squires Gate there were only four substitutes. It was miserable weather, chilly and windy with periods of light rain, totally different to the wonderful warm weather experienced over the Easter period.
The visitors had made it a real occasion bringing a coach load of supporters, some in fancy dress, who with the help of a man with a drum maintained almost constant vocal support for their team. Charnock won the toss so Whitchurch kicked off playing towards the Charter Lane end. With rain over the precious couple of days after a mini-drought the pitch was in excellent condition and Charnock made the most of it. They zipped the ball around in their usual fashion and the visitors were kept mostly on the defensive throughout the first half. In the first minute Joe Noblet brought a diving save off Parton, in the visiting goal, after Davison had set him up. Higham had a shot diverted for a corner and then another shot from Noblet was deflected just post the post with Parton rooted on his line. When, at last, Whitchurch got forward Haslam saved comfortably from Pickerill. Charnock maintained the pressure but failed to carve out clear cut chances: the visitors won a corner on 17 minutes from which Leon Ashman headed over the bar. When Davison threaded his way into the area he was fouled and CARL GRIMSHAW scored from the penalty spot on 22 minutes. It was a lead that Charnock thoroughly deserved but it was important that they added to their goals tally. Unfortunately, despite maintaining their dominance, the Villagers failed to score again before half time. Dave Parton pulled off a few saves but he was not really worked enough with Charnock once again showing reluctance to shoot but looking, almost always, to work the ball to Carl Grimshaw. The visitors offered very little offensively with their best effort coming from a Sean Griffiths’ shot from distance rising over the Charter Lane stand and out of the ground. A foul by Young just outside the penalty area set up a free kick chance for Whitchurch in the two minutes of added time of the first half but the wall blocked the effort and the follow up was wide of the post. So the Villagers went in at half time in total control but only holding a slender 1-0 lead.
The strong, gusty wind had assisted the visitors in the first half but now Charnock had the advantage but it did not really prove decisive as Whitchurch came out in a different frame of mind and proved to be far stronger opponents in the second half. Nathan Fairhurst brought an early save out of Parton and when Grimshaw and Noblet broke against the one defender the advantage was not taken and the move finished with Joe’s cross being too far in front of Carl. Davison cut in from the right and his left footed shot brought a diving save out of Parton. The visitors however had shown improved enterprise since the restart and they equalised on 53 minutes, a diagonal intelligent run and the deliverance of exactly the right pass saw Dylan Bath free on the right and he shot across goal and the ball hit the back post and into the net. It was an excellent goal but a huge disappointment for the Villagers after all the possession that they had enjoyed. The visiting fans became even noisier and their team responded and the game became very even and a couple of chances for Whitchurch were created as Charnock lost some of their composure. A couple of Whitchurch corners on 66 minutes threatened the home goal and it was all looking a little iffy for Charnock’s chances of finishing in a higher position than seventh. With 20 minutes remaining Alex Dodd came on for Jake Higham and Charnock again began to dominate with the visitors looking to hold on and claim a point. As previously in the game Charnock had plenty of possession but they were failing to open up the visitors defence. Desperation began to take over and whilst Parton had to be alert he was not called upon to make important saves. Grimshaw had a shot deflected for a corner, Fairhurst and O’Farrell got in each other’s way and a chance was lost and on 80 minutes a Noblet left wing corner was headed over the bar by Grimshaw. There was always the chance of Charnock conceding a goal and on 83 minutes Haslam had to save a header from Griffiths. Oliver Oxley than came on for Joe Noblet and the game was rapidly moving towards a draw. Hughes brought another save out of Haslam as Charnock went all out for a winner leaving, as usual, the defence short-handed. The break-through came on 87 minutes, Spencer Bibby raced clear from his own half and on the edge of the Whitchurch penalty area passed to GRIMSHAW and he beat Parton with a powerful shot. Mossie Park erupted and Charnock had the win for Andy Westwell that everyone at the club was wanting. There was four minutes of added time for the Villagers to survive before the players left the field with a suitable farewell given to another legend at Charnock Richard Football Club.
Charnock thoroughly deserved their victory but it had been in doubt due to their failure to score particularly in the first half when the visitors really struggled. By chance Damian Dashti had been given his first team debut by Andy in his first game at Freckleton on 24th March 2001 and he was again in the squad for Andy’s last match.
Throughout the game the club’s Twitter reporter Ian Livesey had been keeping tabs on the scores at West Didsbury where Ashton Athletic were playing and at 1874 Northwich where Runcorn Town were the visitors. If both teams lost and Charnock won they would finish in fifth position in the table. Ashton took an early lead at West Didsbury but when the hosts equalised in the second half it looked favourable for the Villagers but a second goal for Athletic saw them finish above Charnock on goal difference. At half time it was 0-0 at the St Luke’s Barton Stadium but the home side scored three times and as a result Runcorn finished in seventh positon a point behind Charnock who equalled last season final position of sixth.
It had been another excellent season for the Villagers and the management team and all the players deserve special thanks for all their efforts from the committee and all the supporters. The new season kicks off on Saturday 3rd August but there are friendly matches arranged from mid-July. The league fixtures should be published around the middle of July.