Charnock lost 2-1 to visitors West Didsbury & Chorlton in a hard fought Premier Division game. Carl Grimshaw scored the goal for the villagers.
Charnock Richard 1 West Didsbury & Chorlton 2
Saturday 31st March 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
CHARNOCK RICHARD 1
WEST DIDSBURY & CHORLTON 2
Team: Adam Halton Ben Lightfoot, Jordyn Fitton, Deklan Hill (Harvey Close 66), Ryan Schofield, Ashley Young, Spencer Bibby, Joseph Noblet, Carl Grimshaw, Tyler Rufus (Patrik Bibby 37), Alex Ralph (Mark Woods 79). Unusued Subs: Daniel Roccia and David Prout.
An injury ravaged Charnock side lost out to visitors West Didsbury & Chorlton in this hard fought Premier Division game at a bitterly cold Mossie Park. ‘West’ controlled matters throughout the first period which they dominated for long spells after taking the lead in the 5th minute. However, Charnock somehow pulled level before the break with a ‘Grimmy special’. Despite this, the visitors were to have the last laugh with a second, and as it turned out the winning goal, just after the break to take all three points. A late rally by the homesters proved insufficient to save the day for the beleaguered Charnock side.
Once again, Charnock manager, Andy Westwell, was forced into a major reshuffle of his line-up. Further changes were made to the patched up side that just missed out on a place in the League Cup Semi Final at Winsford United in the Fourth Round, on the previous Monday night. Jordyn Fitton came in at left back; replacing the injured James Walker and Ben Lightfoot was moved over to right-back from the centre of defence with Ryan Schofield reclaiming the number 5 shirt after returning from injury. Deklan Hill made his Charnock debut partnering Schofield in the centre of defence. Spencer Bibby was pushed into midfield, replacing the injured Anthony Hough with Joe Noblet wearing Nathan Fairhurst’s number 8 shirt, due to his Nathan’s unavailability. Alex Ralph returned on the left of midfield; replacing youngster Liam McNally.
With so many changes over the last three or four games, it was little wonder that Charnock struggled for cohesion in the opening half against a West Didsbury side keen to gain much needed points in order to fend off any chances of being sucked into the relegation ‘dogfight’. The visitors took the game to their hosts early and had Charnock on the back foot from the off. They kicked off facing the Charter Lane end and took the lead on 5 minutes. Benjamin Steer sent over a well-directed corner-kick and ‘West’ skipper, MATTHEW ECKERSLEY, rose unchallenged to firmly plant his header beyond exposed Charnock goalkeeper Adam Halton. This early blow was a real set-back for the ‘Villagers’, who were struggling to find any sort of rhythm and they almost fell further behind moments later when Halton got down well to deal with a low drive by Scott Mason. Halton came to Charnock’s rescue in dramatic fashion on 11 minutes when he saved at point-blank range from Steer following a sweeping three-man move which saw Ashley Woods find Thomas Bailey in space on the left and the striker’s superbly hit cross was met by Steer on the edge of the six-yard box at the back post. Indeed, it could so easily have been two to the visitors except for Halton’s efforts. Then on 16 minutes Woods blasted narrowly wide from a free-kick by ‘West’ full-back, Lanre Olapade, as the home defence reeled in confusion. Charnock were finding the going tough as ‘West’ poured forward in numbers and were lucky to escape in a goalmouth scramble moments later when Woods shot wide from close in when it looked easier to have scored. On 22 minutes Woods poked the ball past the stranded Halton, who had come out to narrow the angle, but the ball went inches past the wrong side of the goalpost. Then on 25 minutes, Halton made the save of the afternoon when diving at full stretch to keep out header from Bailey following a Woods cross. Despite their dominance, the visitors lost their goal advantage on 26 minutes as they felt the unforgiving power of Charnock’s star man, Carl Grimshaw. Spencer Bibby got away down the right flank on the break and sent over a perfect cross and CARL GRIMSHAW powerfully headed home the equaliser for his 380th Charnock Richard goal and his 42nd strike of the season. Spurred on by this flash of brilliance, Charnock began to look more of a force; at least for a short while. However, they continued to look very vulnerable at the back and were once again thankful to on-form goalkeeper, Adam Halton, who tipped a stinging volley over the crossbar from the ever-busy Woods on 36 minutes. Charnock almost took the lead on 41 minutes when Fitton delivered a well-placed free-kick from deep on the left which was headed on by Ryan Schofield. Patrik Bibby, who had replaced the injured Tyler Rufus on 37 minutes, just failed to get a vital touch on the ball on the six-yard line. It was a desperately close thing. On the stroke of half-time Halton again rose to the occasion when he repelled a drive by Woods and then somehow kept out the follow-up by Bailey. It had been a gruelling 45 minutes for the home side who had ridden their luck against the eager West Didsbury outfit. Halton had played a major part in keeping the score level as the teams trouped off for their half-time of tea.
As with the first-half, the visitors scored an early goal following the kick-off after the break, when on 51 minutes, they took the lead for the second time in the game for what was ultimately to be the winning goal. Bailey threaded a neat through ball in towards Steer on the edge of the Charnock box but Steer’s shot was blocked by the home defence. However, ASHLEY WOODS followed up to side-foot the ball home from close range. Woods was desperately unlucky not to have claimed his second goal and his team’s third on 53 minutes when, following a Bailey cross, his header struck the base of the post with Halton beaten, before the defence cleared the danger. Charnock struggled on manfully and there was much more cohesion to their play than had been the case hitherto. A couple of Patrik Bibby crosses caused all kinds of problems for the visiting defence; the first from the left just evaded the in-rushing Alex Ralph on the hour mark and the second centre moments later found Ashley Young, but Young was blocked by a defenders well timed tackle. Then on 70 minutes Ralph came close from a Harvey Close pass; seeing his worthy effort fly narrowly beyond the far post. Charnock were now well into the game and looked capable of grabbing a second equaliser. Spencer Bibby bore down on ‘West’ goalkeeper, Josh Ollerenshaw, on 78 minutes but elected to pass the ball instead of chancing a shot; the ball eventually being cleared for a corner. Young then narrowly headed over the crossbar on 87 minutes from Joe Noblet corner kick from the right before Grimshaw put wide from a good position from a Spencer Bibby cross from the right-hand bye-line, following some good work by Noblet. Despite this, all their late efforts failed to get Charnock the point they so desperately sought.
The Villagers next travel to Rossett Park on Easter Monday to face AFC Liverpool.