Charnock had to be satisfied with a point following a 0-0 draw at Bootle.
Bootle 0 Charnock Richard 0
Saturday 17th March 2018, Macron Cup Round 3
CHARNOCK RICHARD 0
TEAM: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, James Walker, Ashley Young, Ryan Schofield (Joe Noblet 50), Harvey Close (Anthony Hough 61), Mark Woods, Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw Joe Winstanley (Richard Colby 69), Alex Ralph.
This was Charnock’s second visit to the TDP Solicitors Stadium in three days having knocked Bootle out of the Macron Cup on the previous Thursday. On a bitterly cold afternoon this match will not live in the memory for long as both sides struggled to compete with a strong, easterly wind that completely dominated the game. Playing into the wind in the first half Charnock had to produce another rear-guard action as Bootle pressed forward for almost all the half. The second half saw Bootle make a decent fist of playing into the wind but the Charnock team suffered a number of injuries that resulted in them playing the final quarter of an hour, having used all their substitutes, with two players hobbling around.
There were three changes to the starting line-up, Ross O’Farrell and Matt Davison were out injured but Alex Ralph missing due to ineligibility on the previous Thursday was back and started on the left. Harvey Close also returned and new signing Joe Winstanley made his debut up front. On the bench were Joe Noblet, and Anthony Hough alongside Richard Colby who was also making his first inclusion in the squad. It was an afternoon for only the hardiest of supporters so the gate of 121 was impressive.
Charnock won the toss and Bootle started playing with the advantage of the wind. Straight from the kick off Woods broke down the right and his centre found Grimshaw in on goal, goalkeeper Ryan Jones blocked his shot and as the ball bobbed around the keeper made a second important block to thwart the Villagers. From this point on most of the first 45 minutes was played in the Charnock half. The Villagers had lined up with three at the back, Bibby, Schofield and Walker with Young in midfield but playing into the wind meant that for large parts of the half Charnock had a back five. Bootle pushed forward and, as in the previous game, were not afraid to shoot but most of their efforts failed to find the target. Also they suffered from the usual problem of playing with a strong wind, a considerable number of their forward passes raced away for goal kicks. At a time when Charnock really needed to produce their neat, passing football to play against the wind they never really got it started. With their wide players pushed back on defence there was no outlet on either wing and both Bootle full backs were using this space. New signing Joe Winstanley struggled with the pace of the game but he was, much to his surprise, played clear on 13 minutes but running into the wind he failed to take advantage and was caught by a couple of defenders before he could shoot. As in the previous game it was the visiting defenders who largely dominated the game repulsing attack after attack. On two occasions in added time of the first half the home team came closest to taking the lead firstly Peers broke forward and fired a shot narrowly past the angle of the goal and then a centre from the right was headed clear by Harvey Close from close to the line with an opposing forward ready to pounce.
Having survived the first 45 minutes Charnock playing now with the wind could have possibly expected an easier second half but circumstances went against the Villagers with Bootle showing the ability to move the ball around on the ground and a series of injuries severely upsetting the Charnock side. On 50 minutes they lost Ryan Schofield with an injury Joe Noblet coming on as a replacement with Ashley Young dropping back into the back three. When a Charnock free kick was cleared Close picked up the ball and his pass gave Grimshaw a shooting opportunity but he fired well off target. Then James Walker delivered a centre from the left but it drifted out of play before Grimshaw got his head to it. There was a second blow for Charnock when Harvey Close had to leave the field with an injury and Anthony Hough came on. As the half progressed Adam Halton was being called upon more and more frequently and as in the previous game he produced an excellent performance. Richard Colby replaced Joe Winstanley after 69 minutes but the home side continued to push forward, at least playing with the wind it was easier for the Villagers to clear their lines but time after time the ball was coming straight back. James Walker then suffered an injury but with no more substitutes all he could do was go up front and hobble about. With ten minutes remaining Hough went down and required extensive treatment and he finished the game struggling to compete. It was now a case of the Charnock players fitting in wherever they could as the final minutes of the game became more of a war of attrition than at any other period in the game. Halton a number of times dived in among the flying boots to grab the ball and substitute Steve Milne had two great opportunities to win the game for the home side. Firstly he cut across the edge of the area but his final shot was well off target and then when he was set up on the left of the penalty area his shot just went past the angle of the goal.
So in the end Charnock had to be more than satisfied with a point after a fighting performance against increasing odds and with another match, Winsford at the St Luke’s Barton Stadium, scheduled for the following Monday the strength of their squad was being severely tested.