Charnock Richard beat Hanley Town 3-0 at Mossie Park with goals from Carl Grimshaw, Ross O'Farrell and Tyler Rufus.
The Reserves lost 1-0 away at Millom.
Charnock Richard 3 Hanley Town 0
Saturday 5th May 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
CHARNOCK RICHARD 3
HANLEY TOWN 0
Team: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, James Walker, Ashley Young, Ross O’Farrell, Joe Noblet (Mark Woods 79), Alex Dodd (Matt Davison 74), Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw, Tyler Rufus, Alex Ralph (Jordyn Fitton 69). Sub: (Not Used) Harvey Close.
As the last few fixtures of the season are being played out the final positions of clubs in the table are being decided. Earlier in the season it looked as if Charnock could finish as high as second but having suffered an unusual numbers of injuries through March into April a finish in the top six now appears to be a more likely objective. Prior to this game Hanley Town were in sixth position with 73 points and Charnock were seventh also with 73 points with Hanley having a superior goal difference of four goals. So to use the old fashion phrase this was “a six pointer” game although the usual three were only really available.
Charnock were up for the challenge and produced a fine performance that saw them take the lead in the latter stages of the first half and consolidate their win with two further goals in the second period. After the fine win at Irlam on the previous Thursday there were, as expected, three changes to the starting line-up Mark Woods, Harvey Close and Jordyn Fitton all dropped to the bench and in came Joe Noblet, Alex Dodd and Alex Ralph. Matt Davison was the fourth substitute.
It was a sunny, warm afternoon and the pitch was in excellent condition considering the battering from the elements it has received over the winter and spring. Credit must be given to Gareth Jones and all the other helpers who have put in a tremendous amount of effort on the sacred turf over the last nine months.
Charnock Richard won the toss and Hanley Town kicked off playing towards the Charter Lane end. The Villagers almost took the lead after 20 seconds, Carl Grimshaw fed Ralph on the left and Tyler Rufus’ header from his centre went just beyond the far post. Then Grimshaw was played in down the right and keeper Michael Morton palmed clear his shot from a narrow angle. Charnock were looking to dominate the game and had made an encouraging start. Another promising move down the right finished with Morton coming out to collect Alex Dodd’s cross. A throw in on the right saw Spencer Bibby hit a cross to beyond the far post, Grimshaw was up for the header but it was wide. The Villagers almost took the lead on 14 minutes a left wing corner saw the ball come back out to Walker on the left and his centre found Grimshaw at the back post, all he could do however, was to chest the ball goalwards and unfortunately into the arms of Morton. An even easier chance came two minutes later, Ralph progressed through the middle and played Grimshaw clear, he hit a tremendous shot that rebounded off the advancing keeper. Charnock were producing some excellent football but at this stage not receiving the rewards that they deserved. Hanley were looking to play passing football rather than the more direct style of recent visitors to Mossie Park but were struggling to match the tempo being set by their hosts. On 21 minutes Alex Ralph again surged through the middle and only a fine, last ditch tackle prevented him from going clear. Despite all Charnock threats and having the balance of the play they could have been a goal down after 25 minutes, a right wing corner for Hanley created problems and a flying header at the back post went narrowly wide. Ralph produced a cross from the left to which Grimshaw, under pressure, almost reached. A powerful shot from Fairhurst skimmed the bar before Noblet chose to pass rather than shoot but Rufus did well and Grimshaw saw the ball whipped off his toe. Ashley Young then hit a powerful shot just over the ball and it began to look like it was going to be one of those days when good football is not rewarded with goals. Joe Noblet went clear but did not have enough pace and he was caught by a defender and another fine tackle saw the ball out for a throw in. On 35 minutes another right wing corner for Hanley set them up for a shot but Martin Stanyer’s effort was wide. The Villagers finally took the lead after 38 minutes a left wing corner saw the ball cleared out again to Walker and he hit a powerful cross that GRIMSHAW met with a fine header from close range that gave Morton no chance. The visitors responded with defender Josh Thorpe heading wide. The one goal margin at half time did not reflect the balance of play with the Villagers having played some delightful, neat football.
The second half opened with Carl Grimshaw being physically man handled in the area in a challenge for the ball right in front of the referee who then awarded a free kick to Charnock for a foul on Fairhurst on the edge of the area. Spencer Bibby took the kick and produced a fine effort that deserved more than rebounding back of the face of the bar. The Villagers continued from where they had left off at the end of the first half and another fine move finished with Joe Noblet having the ball whipped off his toe just as he was to shoot after Grimshaw set him up. Hanley came very close to equalising when Neville Thompson worked his way in to the bye-line, close in on the right, his shot hit Halton and Bibby cleared the ball as it was about to drop over the line. There were a couple of half-hearted appeals from Hanley but no reaction from the referee or his assistant in that half of the pitch. Tyler Rufus than almost went clear but a fine tackle from Doug Price thwarted him. Charnock increased their lead on 55 minutes and really put the game beyond the visitors. From the second of two successive right wing corners O’FARRELL headed home at the back post. Two goals in the last two home games, Ross, after only totalling two in all his previous appearances for the first team, is becoming prolific. Again, as after going behind previously, Hanley came back and a free kick produced problems in the home defence before the ball was finally hooked over the bar. Another fine link up down the left between Walker and Ralph finished with a shot that lacked power from Noblet. Another free kick for Hanley caused confusion in the home defence, a defender headed the ball out of the grasp of Halton and the ball bobbed around dangerously before it was finally cleared. Charnock made it 3-0 on 69 minutes, RUFUS made room on the left and hit a powerful shot from a narrow angle, Morton appeared to be anticipating a centre left his line and then stuck out his right hand simply to divert the ball into the net. There was no way that the visitors were going to come back from a three goal deficit and Jordyn Fitton immediately came on for Alex Ralph. Tyler Rufus got clear but screwed his left foot shot wide as not surprisingly the game lost a little of its impetus and Charnock then brought on Matt Davison for Alex Dodd after 74 minutes. The youngster on loan from Fleetwood Town had produced his best performance to date and it really looked as if he was coming to terms with the requirements of playing in the North West Counties League after being in the development squad at Fleetwood Town. With another game coming up only two day later there was no surprise when Andy Westwell used his third substitute Mark Woods for Joe Noblet.
In the end what had been billed as a difficult match for the Villagers turned out to be more comfortable that expected, Hanley have been up in the top places in the table all season but on this occasion they failed to look like a top five team which may have been a result of a failure to produce their normal form or a case of Charnock proving to be the better side on the day.
Bank Holiday Monday 7th May sees Charnock facing relegation threatened AFC Liverpool at the Marine Travel Area in Crosby, home of Marine FC, kick-Off is 3.00pm. The Reserves are also in action on Bank Holiday Monday in the West Lancs League Div 2 Cup final against Millom which will be played at Garstang FC, kick off is 3.00pm.
Charnock’s final fixture of the season is away at West Didsbury and Chorlton on Saturday 12th May, again the Kick-Off is 3.00pm.