Charnock were looking to keep pressure on the leading pack in the Premier Division against newly relegated Burscough on their return to the North West Counties League following a twenty year stint at a higher level since winning promotion to the Northern Premier League in 1997-98. The Linnets were keen to check their slide in fortune following a disappointing start to life back in the North West Counties League.
Charnock manager, Andy Westwell, made just one change to his starting line-up from the team that gained a point following the 1-1 draw at Congleton Town on the previous Saturday; bringing in Mark Woods to replace the unavailable Mark Adams in the number 11 shirt.
As the teams lined up prior to kick off, who amongst the gathering throng would have considered the possibility of such a fixture gracing Mossie Park only a couple of seasons ago? As things were to turn out, Charnock were to prove too strong a test for their struggling Victoria Park visitors, despite a promising opening by them.
Burscough kicked off facing the Charter Lane end of the ground on a surprisingly warm and somewhat unseasonal November evening, which despite being dry, was tinged by the sight of an eerie mist which emanated from the Mawdesley Plantation. Both sides opened brightly enough and the early exchanges promised much for the evening’s entertainment. Indeed, it was a good omen, for this was to be a fine and enjoyable match throughout, especially for the home support. Charnock took the initiative from the off but it was the visitors, in their alternative apparel of Orange and white, who came the closest in the opening exchanges when a fine through ball from full back Jamie Clark on 3 minutes found the inrushing Chad Whyte, but the visiting number 9 just failed to control the ball on the edge of the box. Both sides were playing neat and purposeful football at pace and it was to be the home side who took the lead on 15 minutes after JONATHAN HESSION latched onto a fine pass from Matthew Davison before firing home with confidence beyond Josh Samberg in the Burscough goal. Despite this set back, the visitors remained dangerous and tested the home rear-guard with some penetrating play. Indeed, they came close to parity on the half hour mark when Charnock goalkeeper, Adam Halton, did well to snuff out a close quarter effort from Matthew Ward. A minute later Burscough’s endeavour paid dividends when they equalised when centre back, ALEX PARKES, was on hand to find the net from close in after Whyte had headed down a corner kick. At this stage, the game was a closely contested affair with both teams displaying a good deal of enterprise; Burscough belying their lowly place in the Premier Division table and Charnock full of swagger. It was good to watch. As half-time approached ‘The Villagers’ knocked the wind out of their opponents sails with two goals within a couple of minutes; the first curtsey of a fine header from the ever prominent ASHLEY YOUNG on 42 minutes who pounced to send a well struck Mark Woods free-kick, from out on the left, crashing past Samberg. Then CARL GRIMSHAW made it 3-1 on 44 minutes when he rifled home via the far goalpost to send the visitors in at the interval somewhat ‘shell-shocked’.
The second-half opened with Charnock in the ascendancy straight from the off, but Burscough almost pulled a goal back on 55 minutes when Halton had to be very alert to thwart a worthy effort from Ward. However, the homesters began to dominate affairs and a fourth goal killed off any thought of a Burscough comeback on 63 minutes following a sweeping three-man move. Young found the overlapping Walker deep on the left with an astute angled pass and the full back swung over a low cross which was clinically dispatched by CARL GRIMSHAW for his 15th strike of the season. Charnock soon took advantage of their dispirited opponents with a fifth goal five minutes later. Walker again proved the provider when his cross from the left was only partially cleared by the visiting defence. ASHLEY YOUNG latched onto the loose ball some twenty yards from goal to fire home a crisp shot beyond the diving Stamberg for his second of the game. The game wasn’t over just yet and Burscough managed to reduce their deficit on 79 minutes with a well struck high looping shot by NEIL HULME.
The night deservedly belonged to Charnock in a match where they imposed their game on a plucky Burscough side who started well enough but who were eventually undone by a team on top form. Charnock go to the Halton Stadium on Saturday to meet fellow promotes Widnes in the Premier Division.