Charnock beat Maine Road 4-1 with goals from Louis Mayers, Carl Grimshaw, Matt Davison and Jon Hession.
The Reserves also won 4-1 at Furness Rovers with Coley 2, Jamie Sanderson and Hurst finding the net.
The Academy did not play because their scheduled opponents were playing in the Guildhall Cup.
Charnock Richard 4 Maine Road 1
Saturday 17th February 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
CHARNOCK RICHARD 4
MAINE ROAD 1
Team: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, James Walker, Ashley Young, Mike Fletcher, Mark Woods, Matt Davison, Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw (David Sherlock 74), Louis Mayers (Jon Hession 45), Alex Ralph (Anthony Hough 82). Subs (No Used) Joe Noblet, Harvey Close.
Following the disappointment of the 4-3 home defeat against Barnoldswick Town on the previous Tuesday it was important that Charnock got back to winning ways and they certainly complied but this victory was not as easy as the score may suggest. After taking a two goal lead in the first 17 minutes the Villagers were definitely in charge but Maine Road pulled a goal back just before the interval. The second half started with the visitors running the game and only a fine individual goal for Charnock took the motivation out of Maine Road. With the two goal cushion reinstated Charnock went on to claim all three points the game finally being made safe with a fourth goal.
Following the defeat in the previous match there were a number of changes in the starting line up; Ryan Schofield and Ross O’Farrell were out with injuries. At centre back Mike Fletcher came in for his first appearance of the season and Ashley Young dropped back from midfield. Spencer Bibby, free of suspension, came in a right back and Mark Woods started in midfield. The final change was newly signed Louis Mayers starting up front in place of David Sherlock. Joe Noblet was on the bench after missing the Barnoldswick game with an injury and he was joined by Anthony Hough, Jon Hession, Harvey Close and David Sherlock.
It was a fine afternoon milder than for a number of weeks with little wind. Once again the pitch was in excellent condition considering the recent inclement weather and it was thanks to a tremendous amount of effort put in by volunteers following the game on the previous Tuesday. Maine Road had a poor spell in the autumn and consequently dropped into the relegation zone but under a new manager they have picked up again and prior to this match they sat in 18th position in the table.
Maine Road won the toss and decided to play towards the Charter Lane end so Charnock kicked off. As expected it was the Villagers who took the game to the visitors but the opening ten minutes saw neither side able to create any serious penalty area activity. In fact it was Maine Road who created the first real action, on 12 minutes, with Young missing his tackle and as a result the visitors threatened on the right however the opportunity fizzled out when the ball finished up in Adam Halton’s hands. A minute later it was Charnock taking the lead, Alex Ralph swung in a right wing corner and LOUIS MAYERS hit the ball home at the back post. A goal on his debut, not a bad start back at the club for whom he played as a junior. Charnock were now into their stride and Maine Road were forced onto the defensive with Nathan Fairhurst seeing plenty of the ball in midfield and Alex Ralph showing up well on the left, he never hesitates in getting the ball into the penalty area. On 17 minutes a great ball from Fairhurst found Ralph cutting in from the left he could have shot but instead he laid the ball across the face of the goal and GRIMSHAW had an easy tap in. Charnock continued to dominate with the visitors struggling to get into the Charnock half. It looked at this stage a case of how many would the Villagers score? Matt Davison a constant threat down the right found the head of Mayers but it was an easy save for Hayden Buckley-Smith in goal. Bibby then found Mayers but he shot narrowly over the bar. Two left wing corners were won by Charnock around the 32nd minute mark, the second saw Ashley Young shoot wide. Then another fine pass from Fairhurst put Grimshaw in but the keeper diverted his shot behind for a corner and the Villagers maintained the pressure. Woods found Mayers on the left and his centre was met by Fairhurst but his effort was just over the bar. A Woods’ free kick from not far inside the visitor’s half saw Grimshaw produce a back header but it was straight at Buckley-Smith. Then on 35 minutes Maine Road put together their first really threatening attack of the game and Halton did really well to come out and block Jack Coop’s shot after he had broken clear. All of a sudden the game swung around and the home defence struggled to deal with a series of long balls and some powerful running by the visitors. The revival by the Manchester based team resulted in them reducing the arrears on 39 minutes, Jack Coop broke clear down the left, Halton came out to challenge him and the big number nine rolled the ball across the area and Sean Cookson had an easy chance to find the net. The teams was almost level two minutes later when several attempted clearances from the home defence luckily dropped Maine Road’s way and Sean Cookson was clear but his shot hit the inside of the far post and rebounded back into the arms of Halton. Charnock in the remaining minutes of the half struggled to contain the visitors.
Jon Hession replaced the injured Louis Mayers for the second half and it started as the first had finished with Maine Road totally in control. Charnock struggled to get together any semblance of the standard of football they had been producing earlier in the game and time after time passes from the back went to the opposition. The visitors were full of running and their direct style was causing the team in green the same sort of problems that Barnoldswick Town had in the previous match. It really looked as if Charnock were going to be lucky to hang onto their lead but then, on 53 minutes, at last they produced an attack, Davison’s centre from the right was blocked but his follow up effort went well wide. The big, strong running Cookson broke clear down the right on 55 minutes and Young finally stopped his run with a firm tackle. The game turned around again on 57 minutes, Hession won the ball and passed to MATT DAVISON who promptly went on a mazy run through the middle leaving three defenders in his wake and hit the ball past the advancing keeper to restore Charnock’s two goal cushion. It was a fine individual goal and as expected it swung the game back Charnock’s way. Charnock once again set the tempo for the game and set up a number of chances, Davison streaked down the right and set up Hession but he seemed to stand on the ball and the opportunity as lost. Grimshaw set up Hession for a header but it was an easy save for the keeper and when a free kick found Alex Ralph at the back post Buckley-Smith was quick of his line to block his shot. From the resulting left wing corner Ashley Young headed narrowly past the post. A rare Maine Road attack saw Halton have to go down to make a save but having introduced all three substitutes they were not able to re-create the dominance with which they had started the half.
David Sherlock came on for Carl Grimshaw and on 78 minutes JON HESSION advanced into the area and hit a fierce shot that found the net via the underside of the crossbar. Anthony Hough replaced Alex Ralph and the final minutes of the game were played out, the only noticeable event being Sherlock driving into the area but his pass to Hession being little overhit and an excellent chance to make the score 5-1 was lost.
It had been satisfying to see Charnock again produce the standard of football that has brought them so much success this season but it was a cause for concern the way that they had come under the hammer in the final minutes of the first half and at the start of the second.
Wednesday 21st February sees Charnock playing Clitheroe in the semi-final of the LFA Challenge Trophy at The County Ground, Leyland Kick Off is 7.45pm. On Saturday 24th February Charnock travel up the M65 to meet Padiham Kick Off 3.00pm