Charnock won 3-1 at Handley Town with two penalties from Nathan Fairhurst and a late goal from Matt Davison.
The Reserves drew 2-2 at home to Ladybridge with goals from Pilgrim and Milnes.
The Academy won 5-4 at New Longton Rovers with a hat-trick from Griffiths, a goal from Bennett and an own goal.
Handley Town 1 Charnock Richard 3
Saturday 2nd September 2017, Hallmark Security League Premier Division
HANLEY TOWN 1
CHARNOCK RICHARD 3
Team: Andrew Dawber, Matt Davison, Josh Norgate, Jack Sanders, Ryan Schofield, Ross O’Farrell (Spencer Bibby 74), Anthony Hough (Joe Noblet 61), Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw, Mark Adams (Connor Loftus 83), Mark Woods. Subs: (Not Used) Oliver Evans, Kallum Banks.
Following the disappointment of the defeat at City of Liverpool in midweek it was important that Charnock returned to winning ways but with Hanley Town also making a decent start to the season this looked a difficult fixture. As on several occasions so far this season the Villagers have come across goalkeepers on form and Joe Hemmings pulled off some important saves that kept his team in the game almost right up to the final whistle. A penalty gave Charnock the lead in the first half but the home side equalised before the interval. Another penalty immediately on the resumption put the team in green 2-1 ahead and reduced Hanley Town to 10 men. The one goal lead came under threat as the 90 minutes approached but with the home side going all out for an equaliser, Charnock scored again deep into added time to wrap up a 3-1 victory.
There were a number of changes to the Charnock line-up from the side that started at the Top Solicitors Stadium in Bootle. Adam Halton was away, so Andrew Dawber made his debut in goal. Joe Noblet, Spencer Bibby and Oliver Evans were dropped to the bench and in came Josh Norgate, Ross O’Farrell, for his first appearance of the season, Anthony Hough and Mark Adams. New signing from Padiham, Connor Loftus was on the bench along with Kallum Banks.
It was a warm, sunny afternoon at the Potteries Stadium and after Charnock won the toss Hanley kicked off playing towards the City End. Charnock certainly showed no after effects from the game at City of Liverpool and once again they produced some fine attacking football. They maintained their three man defence with Norgate, Sanders and Schofield and employed Matt Davison and Mark Woods as wing backs although the latter two players seemed more intent on attacking than defending. Ross O’Farrell was employed in midfield with Anthony Hough and Nathan Fairhurst. Mark Adams provided plenty of pace up front and he proved to be a handful for the home defence. The return of Theo Stair to the home side has given them an added goal threat and as early as the second minute he broke into the Charnock box and keeper Dawber had to come out to narrow the angle as he cut in from the left, the ball being deflected for a corner. Throughout the game it was Stair who was the real threat in the Hanley attack and the Villagers’ defence did well to prevent him scoring more than the one goal. The opening 30 minutes saw plenty of goalmouth action and it was an entertaining match for the 98 spectators. Charnock created the most chances but with Joe Hemmings on form they found it difficult to score from open play. Davison was in on goal after four minutes but by the time the bouncing ball dropped his shot was blocked. Then when a great ball from Mark Woods put Grimshaw away down the right Matt Davison met his centre at the near post but his header was off target. Dawber was then in action collecting a header before a neat move from Charnock put Adams clear but Hemmings diverted his shot for a corner. Schofield headed a right wing corner into the side netting from beyond the far post and when Fairhurst did well on the right his centre was dropping onto Grimshaw’s head until a defender’s head diverted the ball for a corner. Hemmings then saved from Davison and we had not yet reached the quarter hour mark. A corner for Hanley set up a goalbound effort but the shot was blocked. On 20 minutes an excellent overhead kick by Dan Cope saw Dawber have to fingertip the ball onto the bar and over. It was an excellent save by the debutant keeper. The game was now into a period where the visitors were on the defensive and Stair made a dangerous run down the inside left channel and his shot cum centre was just too strong for a home player to reach at the back post. Charnock came back with Grimshaw shooting over the bar from distance. And then Hemmings appeared as from nowhere to divert a goalbound shot from Grimshaw for a corner. Woods then found Grimshaw with another fine pass but his shot was off target. The Villagers took the lead from the penalty spot on 28 minutes; Blowers dived in on Davison in the right hand corner of the penalty area adjacent to the bye-line. A rather silly, mis-timed tackle and FAIRHURST converted the penalty. Hanley came back with Sheldon shooting narrowly wide from a left wing corner and then Grimshaw had another shot deflected for a corner. Lack of defensive cover cost Charnock on 31 minutes. With Charnock committed to attack the home team broke and Stair went clear, Sanders got back but his tackle was ineffective and the classy striker ran into the area, calmly avoided two tackles from defenders who had got back, side-footed Dawber and hit the ball into the corner of the net. The final 15 minutes of the first half were relatively quiet after all the activity earlier in the half. Woods did well to get across to block a shot and Hemmings made another fine save at the expense of Davidson.
The second half started very dramatically with Fairhurst feeding in Grimshaw as he burst in from the right, his shot came back off the far post and his follow up shot was handled on the line. It was another penalty and a red card for Josh Thorpe. NATHAN FAIRHURST calmly beat Hemmings from the penalty spot. Charnock really took advantage of their opponent’s predicament not always the case when a side go down to 10 men and dominated the play for the following 30 minutes. Hemmings continued to deal with everything that Charnock threw at him and little was seen of the home side offensively. As is often the case Fairhurst was very effective in midfield and the strong running of Mark Woods, Anthony Hough and Matt Davison was creating openings in the home defence. However, as the season develops it is becoming evident that Charnock are not converting enough of their chances, at this level there is not the time to take two touches and more strikes have to be on target. As it was the Villagers found themselves in the final quarter of the game, one goal ahead and having to defend, they should have had the game well and truly won by this point. Joe Noblet had replaced Anthony Hough after 61 minutes and Spencer Bibby had come on for Ross O’Farrell after 74 minutes and Charnock had reverted to a flat back four. Hanley should have equalised when an attack down their left finished with the ball dropping to the unmarked Jacob Vernon, only 12 yards out, but his header was well off target. Hanley went all out to get at least a point from the match and Charnock were pushed back on the defensive but they still created a number of breakaways. Andrew Dawber did well to block a Stair shot with his feet and immediately beat away a header from close range. Adams set up Noblet for a shot that Hemmings collected at the second attempt and he then gave way for Connor Loftus to make his debut. Grimshaw needed lengthy attention after being involved in another attack that almost saw Charnock increase their lead. The home side were committing more and more players to attack and it was a very nervous time for the visiting supporters. However the home team tactics were allowing Charnock to break and when Grimshaw set up Loftus for a shot he fired over the bar. The same player was then in one-on-one with Hemmings but the keeper dived to his left to save. Davison than had to receive attention from the physio and we were already deep into added time. The victory was finally confirmed for the team in green in the ninth minute of added time when Charnock broke after a Hanley free kick and Loftus laid the ball off to DAVISON who found the corner of the net.
It was a well-earned win by the Villagers and took their points tally up to 12 from five games and moved them back up the table into second spot and their start to the season has more than met expectations.
Saturday 9th September sees Charnock competing in the Buildbase FA Vase competition and they travel to play Selby Town from the Northern Counties East League. Once again the club are running a coach contact Alan Baron on 07887678011 if you are interested in travelling, kick off is at 3.00pm.