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Charnock were knocked out of the Partners Foundation LFA Challenge Trophy losing 1-0 at Ashton Athletic.
Ashton Athletic 1 Charnock Richard 0

Tuesday 8th November 2016, LFA Challenge Trophy 2nd Round



Team: Adam Halton, Damian Dashti (Lewis Swarbrick 70), Josh Norgate, Mike Fletcher, Luke Gibson (Ross O’Farrell 70), Anthony Hough, Danny Smith, Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw, Oliver Evans (David Burrows 79), Evans, Adams.

The season has seen the club taking part in a number of competitions for the first time and the Partnership Foundation LFA Challenge Trophy is one of four knockout cups and involves all the major non-league clubs affiliated to the Lancashire Football Association. Charnock in the first round eliminated Bamber Bridge and were extremely unlucky to lose by a single goal in this game at Ashton Athletic. They created a number of excellent chances particularly in the first half but failed to convert any of them whilst the home side, who improved as the game went on, found the net in the second half to move into the third round.

There were several changes to the starting line-up, Ashley Young was suffering from a knee injury that is likely to keep him out until Christmas and Danny Marland was unavailable. Luke Gibson started in place of O’Farrell who was on the bench and Hough replaced Swarbrick who was also a substitute; Evans was alongside Grimshaw up front.

It was a miserable evening cold and with heavy rain only the hardiest of spectators are likely to turn out to watch in such conditions, only 64 were brave enough a fair number of whom were Charnock supporters. Ashton won the toss and Charnock kicked off playing towards the northern end of the ground. The ground has a slight slope and there was a light breeze and Charnock had the benefit of both these in the first half. The pitch looked in excellent condition and so encouraged teams to play passing football.

The Villagers were into their stride from the start passing the ball around in their usual style and Ashton were forced back onto the defensive. Charnock’s problems throughout the game were converting chances no more so than in the first half. They had a number of shots on target but they were either straight at the goalkeeper or lacked power, in some cases it was both. Oliver Evans, playing up front, had the greatest number of chances but whilst most of his final efforts were on target he failed to really trouble Martin Pearson in goal. One must take into consideration that the player is still young and has plenty to learn but credit must be given that he is getting into shooting positions. Carl Grimshaw also had some great chances but on the night his finishing was not up to his usual standards. Overall Charnock played some fine football and for almost all of the first half and into the second period they were the better side. Ashton Athletic are in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League and recently they have had some high scoring wins as well as some equally heavy defeats. The closest Charnock came to scoring in the first half was when Grimshaw played Evans in on nine minutes and keeper Pearson saved with his feet and just before the break when Carl Grimshaw was clear on the right of the area and Pearson saved the day tipping his powerful shot over the bar. Ashton were restricted to two shots narrowly past the post and Joel Brownhill shooting straight at Adam Halton.

Another encouraging start by Charnock to the second half saw Oliver Evans clear on goal in the first minute but he did not have the confidence to shoot with his right foot and when he tried to get the ball onto his left he was crowded out. Immediately Grimshaw played him clear again but this time he was flagged offside. This was really as good as it got in the second half for the Villagers, Ashton really got their act together and the Charnock defence came more and more under pressure. Cusan on the left for Ashton carried a threat and Adam Halton again produced some fine saves. Ross O’Farrell and Lewis Swarbrick replaced Luke Gibson and Damian Dashti after 70 minutes and Ashton scored the winning goal on 72 minutes. The visitors’ defence had several attempts to clear as the ball bounced around in the area before Gilchrist hit the ball into the net from close range. It was another disappointing goal to concede but they all count whether from a thundering shot or off someone’s back side. Charnock pushed forward David Burrows came on and received the only booking of the evening but the Villagers never really looked like getting back in the game. As Charnock chased the game the home side had opportunities to make the final score more emphatic but Halton once again coped well and in the final minute Lewis Swarbrick made two amazing goal line clearances when a goal looked certain.

A very disappointing evening for all the team in green followers but they can take heart from the performance and it is difficult to believe that the team will miss so many chances in a game for the remainder of this season.

Keith Reader

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