Charnock won 2-1 at league leaders Longridge Town with goals from Jamie Sanderson and David Burrows.
The Reserves beat Haslingden St Mary's 3-0 with goalscorers Oliver Grundy 2 and Ryan Donnellan.
The Academy fell to a 0-5 defeat at home to Bamber Bridge Band Club
Longridge Town 1 Charnock Richard 2
Saturday 5th September 2015 West Lancashire League Premier Division
LONGRIDGE TOWN 1
CHARNOCK RICHARD 2
Team: Gavin Bates, Luke Gibson (Oliver Vaulks 68), Damian Dashti, Ross O’Farrell, Josh Norgate, Mike Fletcher, Jack Bennett (Luke Barrow 60), Alex Randell, Mark Adams (Lewis Swarbrick 86), David Burrows, Jamie Sanderson. Subs: (Not Used) David Prout, Patrik Bibby.
With Longridge Town and Coppull United the early leaders in the Premier Division, Charnock have been faced with playing both of them in only five days. Having fought out a 2-1 win over Coppull on the previous Tuesday Charnock turned up at Longridge expecting another difficult game. A crowd of 224 saw another very competitive game with the Villagers again winning 2-1. Charnock were two goals up at half time by which time the home side had been reduced to 10 men. The second half saw Longridge make a determined effort to get back to, at least, level terms and although they pulled a goal back Charnock held on to collect all three points and move up into second place in the table.
Charnock were without several key players, Mark Woods was injured, Liam Hayton was on honeymoon and Carl Grimshaw and Spencer Bibby were suspended. Matt Ashcroft was still playing cricket so Damian Dashti moved over to left back and Luke Gibson made his first start of the season at right back. In midfield Jamie Sanderson was preferred to Lewis Swarbrick who was on the bench.
Manager Lee Ashcroft has, this season, put together a team of tall, powerful, strong running players and they play to their strengths by hitting the ball forward at every opportunity. It must be very easy for teams to be overwhelmed when faced with a side with these attributes and it would appear that a number of sides so far this season have succumbed as Longridge have rattled in 24 goals and are the leading goalscorers in the division. However, sides fielded by manager Andy Westwell are not so easily overcome and in this game the task in the first half of this game was particularly difficult as the hosts had a breeze at their backs. Josh Norgate has taken over the captain’s role in recent weeks and he stood firm at the back ably supported by Ross O’Farrell, Damian Dashti and Luke Gibson.
It was a fine, sunny afternoon with a northerly breeze and Charnock kicked off playing towards the northern end of the ground. Longridge took up the running from the start and it was a case of Charnock having to defend in numbers in the early stages of the game. The home side saw plenty of the ball but it proved difficult for them to create clear cut chances. Lennie Reid on the left produced most of their shots usually by cutting in from the left. As early as the fourth minute his effort went beyond the far post. Another effort was saved by Bates and then on 39 minutes when he again cut back inside his shot went narrowly beyond the far post. Keiran Walmsley saw his dipping free kick turned over the bar by Gavin Bates but there were few other shots on target by Longridge. It took a while for Charnock to produce a threat and then it came in a rather strange way. Alex Randell closed down goalkeeper White as he attempted to clear and charged down his effort, the ball was free and the keeper pushed Randell over in a failed attempt to punch the ball. However, the referee was not interested in awarding a penalty; goalkeepers often lead a charmed life when it comes to being penalised for committing fouls. The best chance of the game so far occurred in the 28th minute. Adams chased a ball down the right and his centre found Burrows, who side stepped a defender in front of goal and shot but White was quick off his line and blocked the effort. However, Charnock took the lead only two minutes later, Randell put in a diagonal free kick from the left and the ball was only partially cleared. JAMIE SANDERSON ran onto it and drilled a shot just inside the post. Two minutes later Brad Carsley kicked out at Jack Bennett who had just won the ball off him and the referee instantly produced a red card. Longridge were faced with playing the remaining 60 minutes with only 10 men. The game was still end to end, an Adams cross was fractionally too high for Burrows and he headed wide and at the other end Longridge should have equalised on 39 minutes when the Charnock defence was breached on the left and a cross fell to the unmarked McLoughlin only yards out but he skied his shot way over the bar. Charnock increased their lead two minutes before the break; a right wing corner was cleared but Randell picked up the ball and delivered a cross to the back post, it went over White and BURROWS headed home colliding with the post as he did so.
It had been a very satisfying half for the Villagers and playing with the wind in the second half against 10 men the odds were on them to go on and secure the victory. Well, the end product was a win but it did not prove as easy as expected as Longridge came out full of energy for the second period and it would have been difficult for a stranger turning up at half time to realise that one side was a player short. Once again Charnock had to defend but for all Longridge’s efforts shots on target were scarce, in fact Bates did not have a shot to save other than the one on 63 minutes that brought the home side back into the game. Ex-Charnock player Sam Nightingale produced a long throw into the Charnock box, some poor defending for once saw the ball drop to Keiran Walmesley, his shot lacked power but Gavin Bates failed to prevent it hitting the back of the net. Gavin will be disappointed but already this season the big number one has made some tremendous saves that have kept Charnock in games. One mistake by a goalkeeper and it it is often a goal. Longridge looked to build on the lead being reduced to one goal but for all their running they failed to breach the Charnock defence again. Their best chance again came to Leon McLoughlin when he broke free on 64 minutes but his shot was again well off target. The home side brought on Rick Coar with 17 minutes remaining, a leading goalscorer for them in recent seasons but on this occasion his strength and speed failed to create the usual problems for the opposing defenders. At the other end Charnock were looking to score a third goal which would definitely kill the hopes of the home team. White had to push a Randell shot around the post and then did well to palm away and in-swinging centre from Burrows that was threatening to dip under the bar. When Adams got in on goal from a free kick White managed to push his close range header over the bar. Luke Barrow came on for Jack Bennett on 60 minutes and Charnock had to replace the injured Gibson with Vaulks on 68 minutes. When Mark Adams was substituted on 86 minutes Lewis Swarbrick came on in midfield with Barrow moving up front. All the effort that Longridge had put in trying to compensate for losing a player showed in the final ten minutes of the game when they ran out of steam and it became increasingly obvious that the three points were going to the visitors. White had to save from Barrow with his legs and then in the last and third minute of added time a free kick from Keiran Walmsley gave Tucker a chance at the back post but his header was off target.
It had been another fine performance from the Villagers with Mike Fletcher providing a defensive screen in front of the back four and Alex Randell again producing a performance in midfield of constant running and being at the heart of the Charnock attacks. Jamie Sanderson and Jack Bennett continue to produce plenty of effort in midfield and Longridge failed to make much progress when trying to play through the midfield. In the absence of Carl Grimshaw, Mark Adams has come in and provided, with his pace, a different option up front. With David Burrows also having a rare turn of speed opposing defences have struggled to contain the pair. However, the power and heading ability together with the goalscoring attributes of the absent big striker have been missed.
Facing three difficult games in the previous seven days Charnock can be well satisfied with their haul of seven valuable points. On Saturday 12th September the West Lancashire League is largely at a standstill as the clubs compete in the opening round of the Lancashire Amateur Shield. Charnock host Swarthmoor Social from Cumbria who have only been elected back into the league this season from the North Lancashire League. Note that this game kicks off at 3.00pm whilst most of the other ties start at 2.00pm.