Charnock have a convincing 3-0 win at Prestwich Heys to remain at the top of the table. Carl Grimshaw scored all three goals.
Prestwich Heys 0 Charnock Richard 3
Saturday 15th April 2017, Hallmark Security League Division 1
PRESTWICH HEYS 0
CHARNOCK RICHARD 3
Team: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, Josh Norgate, Ross O’Farrell, Mike Fletcher, Ashley Young, Matt Davison, Anthony Hough, Carl Grimshaw, Jon Hession, Mark Adams (Danny Smith 72) Subs: (Not Used) Luke Gibson, Joe Fielding, Damian Dashti, Jack Sanders.
Charnock maintained their narrow one point lead at the top of the table with this fine 3-0 win at Prestwich Heys. The first half was rather scrappy and the game was goalless at half time. The Villagers took the lead two minutes into the second half and from then on never looked like losing the game.
Manager Andy Westwell was able to field the same starting eleven and bench who won 8-0 on the previous Tuesday. Midfield general Nathan Fairhurst, who has been out since mid-January, and Ryan Schofield, who dislocated his shoulder at Alsager, will not play again this season. Also missing was Oliver Evans who has been struggling with an injury for some time. It was a blustery afternoon with sunny periods and the pitch looked in fine condition. Of the 209 who paid for admission it looked as if up to 100 were following Charnock, another fine show of support.
Charnock won the toss and Prestwich kicked off playing towards the Sandgate Road end. It appeared that the Villagers had the advantage of the wind on their backs. The earlier fixture at Mossie Park at the end of April had been a highly entertaining game far closer than the 5-2 scoreline for Charnock might suggest but this game failed to match it with both sides giving the ball away too easily. Charnock are capable of playing some neat, passing football but, in the first half in particular, they played too many long balls and Grimshaw and Hession struggled against a determined home defence. A goal gave them a boost early in the second half and knocked the wind out of Prestwich and the team in green then produced a professional performance that made sure that the three points were secured. After the super show on the previous Tuesday it is difficult to understand why the Villagers failed to perform on this occasion but with the tension building as the season comes to a close relaxed football is not easy. The pitch looked in good condition so that should have encouraged good football but there was a blustery wind that maybe affected both teams and Charnock, rather surprisingly, performed better against it in the second half whilst the home team struggled to create any real chances with it at their backs.
It was Prestwich who almost created the first chance on two minutes a through ball found Hampson who shot wide but he had already been flagged offside. Neither side seemed able to keep hold of the ball and it resulted in a very scrappy start to the game. On eight minutes Matt Davison had a good run through the middle and Stinca, in goal, fumbled his shot, the ball finished up outside the area at the feet of Adams but his shot was off target. Charnock were having the balance of possession but not creating chances. James Hampson was almost played clear again after 15 minutes but a fine tackle by Fletcher with O’Farrell completing the clearance thwarted the home side. Grimshaw headed on a long Halton kick and Hession tested Stinca before Halton had to be alert as another through ball threatened to unlock the visitors’ defence. After 25 minutes Grimshaw hit a fine dipping volley from distance and the home keeper did well to turn the ball over the bar. Prestwich then produced a good cross from the right but the home side failed to get in a decisive header. As half time approached Bibby advanced from the right and his shot was diverted for a corner from which a Grimshaw header just went beyond the far post. The last five minutes of the half saw Hough back heel a ball to Grimshaw on the edge of the area but his left foot shot lacked power. Then another good centre from the right by the home side saw Greg Wills head wide and finally an Adams shot was diverted for a corner.
At half time it was a case of wondering if Prestwich could take advantage of the wind or would Charnock manage to step up their performance because the game, even if Charnock had shaded the first half, was still very delicately poised. It did not take long for Charnock to grab the lead, they made a spirited start to the half and a free kick on the left just outside the penalty area gave Spencer Bibby a chance to swing in the kick and he duly delivered; it was difficult to see if CARL GRIMSHAW touched the ball before it went into the net but his presence certainly unnerved the keeper and he was awarded the goal after discussions with the referee after the final whistle. It was just the lift that Charnock needed and they took charge of the game from then on. Hession had a fine run down the left and pulled the ball back to Hough, his shot was almost diverted into the net by Davison, a very difficult chance but the ball flew over the bar. Young had an effort just beyond the far angle of the goal after Bibby and Davison had combined well down the right before Charnock increased their lead on 70 minutes. Hough ploughed across the face of the penalty area to feed Davison on the right and GRIMSHAW headed home his centre. On 72 minutes Danny Smith replaced mark Adams. One minute later, the home defence were slow to clear on the edge of their area, Jon Hession pounced and GRIMSHAW was in to complete his hat-trick. Little had been seen of the home attack because as often happens the wind saw most of Prestwich’s forward passes go straight through to Halton but on 79 minutes a neat ball over the top saw substitute Michael Itela go clear but he attempted to shoot from distance and scuffed the ball well wide. Hough brought a fine diving save out of Stinca after completing one of his driving runs from the midfield and then on 81 minutes Hession was fouled in the area. A discussion between Bibby and Grimshaw saw the latter step up to take the penalty and he fired the ball high over the bar into Sandgate Road. This was the fourth penalty on the run that Charnock have failed to score from. In the last minute another attack down the right involving substitute Smith and Bibby saw Grimshaw struggle to sort his feet out when the cross came in and the chance was lost.
It was another fine victory for the Villagers on the road and with their away record the best in the division the fact that three of their final four matches are away should give them plenty of confidence. However, it is one game at a time now and the next important fixture is Sandbach United at home on Easter Monday 17th April. Kick-off is 3.00pm.