Charnock lost 2-1 at the hands of Congleton at Mossie Park. Oliver Oxley scored the goal.
The Reserves drew 2-2 at Croston, Richard Coley scoring both goals.
Charnock Richard 1 Congleton Town 2
Saturday 22nd September 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
CHARNOCK RICHARD 1
CONGLETON TOWN 2
Charnock Richard: Chris Cheetham, Ross O’Farrell, James Walker, Ryan Schofield, Jack Sanders, Ashley Ball, Danny Regan, Nathan Fairhurst, Oliver Oxley (Tyler Rufus 80), Mark Woods, Alex Ralph (Ashley Stott 80). Subs: (Not Used) Jacob Higham, Callum Darcy.
Congleton: Craig Ellison, Dominik Williams (Dean Warburton 69), Jack Disney, Tom Stephens, Tom Morris, Anthony Griffith, William Hasler-Cregg, Tom Schofield, Danny Cope (Josh Ryder 80), Steve Foster (Bevan Burey 65), Emini Adegbenro.
Congleton Town arrived at Mossie Park having won all six league games, only conceded one goal and with a squad packed with players that had played at a higher level of football. It was predicted that it would be a difficult game for Charnock and so it proved but they produced another determined performance in an excellent game of football. The Villagers went ahead in the first half but two goals in the last 20 minutes resulted in the three points disappearing down the road to Cheshire.
There were two changes to the Charnock starting line-up from the team that won 4-1 at Penrith on the previous Saturday, Carl Grimshaw was on holiday and Joe Noblet was still struggling with a niggly thigh problem. Ross O’Farrell came in at right back with Oliver Oxley starting up front. Jacob Higham and Callum Darcy were on the bench along with Ashley Stott and there was the welcome return of Tyler Rufus who had been out injured for several weeks.
It was a fine afternoon and despite an unsettled week the pitch was in good condition. There was a decent attendance of 136. Charnock won the toss so Congleton kicked off playing towards the Charter Lane end and the visitors soon showed that their excellent start to the season was based upon good, high tempo, passing football and they set the tone of the game in the opening minutes. Charnock, however, often produce their best performances against sides that concentrate on playing football and despite coming under pressure in the opening minutes they responded with some solid defending and showed their ability to pass the ball around in midfield. Initially Danny Regan supported Oliver Oxley up front with Mark Woods appearing on the right of midfield. As usual Jack Sanders had another excellent game in the centre of the home defence and Ross O’Farrell maintained his reputation for being in the right place in the penalty area at vital moments and he saved the Villagers on a couple of occasions. The first keeper to be seriously involved was Craig Ellison in the visiting goal and he came out to spill a right wing corner on five minutes but the ball was scrambled away. Woods made a smart interception and burst from his own half, found Regan but Ellison was out to beat Oxley to the cross. The play was swinging from end to end and when Adegbenro cut in from the left Cheetham had to turn his near post shot out for a corner. Congleton continued to press and both Cope and Hasler-Cregg had shots from distance off target. When Congleton broke down the right, O’Farrell did really well to turn away a Foster centre to prevent Adegbenro having a clear shot in front of goal. Charnock were producing some excellent football but it was the visitors who were looking the most threatening. Another break down the left by Congleton on 23 minutes saw a shot from Disney swerve away from goal but it almost set up Adegbenro coming in beyond the far post. A Charnock throw in down the right saw Woods reach the bye-line and Oli Oxley’s shot from the pull-back was defected for a corner. Cheetham then had to get down to turn away a shot at his near post and there could be no complaints from the spectators that they were not getting valve for their money. Charnock took the lead on 30 minutes when an attack down the left put in OXLEY who made no mistake. Having only scored his first goal for the club on the previous Saturday it was pleasing to see him score his third goal only one week later. Almost immediately Foster got clear but Jack Sanders got back to put him under pressure and his shot was an easy save for Cheetham. Obviously Charnock were boosted by taking the lead and they produced a spell of excellent football. Tom Stephens turned a Regan centre over his own bar and Jack Sanders almost got his head on a right wing corner. Going behind had caused the Congleton side to become rather niggly and there was a flash point on 45 minutes and it was difficult to see how Dan Cope remained on the pitch because after the ball was cleared he charged into Schofield thumping his head into his chest. Obviously Ryan reacted and he received a yellow card the same as Cope. It had been a very even first half but Oxley’s goal separated the teams at the break.
The second half opened with Sanders conceding a foul on the edge of the box but Cheetham saved Cope’s free kick easily. Having taken the lead could the Villagers go on and increase the margin of it or at least hang on to it was the major question? For the first 25 minutes of the second half they were the better side producing some threatening attacks and more importantly defending so well that the visitors failed to carve out any chances. With Grimshaw absent Charnock did not have the option of clearing long balls up field as Oxley could not compete in the air with the tall central defenders but the Villagers did well to mainly keep the ball on the ground. With Danny Regan, having reverted to his normal right sided role, a constant threat on the right and Alex Ralph proving to be a handful on the left they kept the visiting defenders on their toes. Congleton played the ball around confidently and although they were making progress through midfield the home defence continued to defend confidently. Charnock were carving out chances at the other end, Ball almost got his head, in front of goal, to a Regan centre and immediately Elliot just grabbed the ball in front of a Charnock player. An impressive attack down the left that finished with Regan finding the net was thwarted because Ralph had drifted offside. When Hasler-Cregg went past Walker his centre from the right dropped on top of the net. On 58 minutes a Woods corner caused problems and Sanders’ volley on the turn went over the bar. If Charnock during this spell had increased their lead the outcome may well have been different. Congleton made a couple of substitutions and they equalised on 70 minutes, Adegbenro somehow got past Schofield up against the bye-line on the left and his cross was turned home by Cope at the near post. It was now Charnock who were affected by the setback and for the first time in the half Congleton took charge and the home defence was seriously at fault when they scored again on 77 minutes. Put clear by a through ball substitute Dean Warburton raced into the box, rounded Cheetham and thumped the ball home. Charnock made a double substitution on 80 minutes Stott and Rufus coming on for Oxley and Ralph and as usual for a Charnock team they pushed forward seeking an equaliser. Elliot took a nasty tumble coming out for the ball on 83 minutes and required extensive treatment before he could continue. Rufus screwed a chance wide as the Villagers went all out to get back into the game, two corners in the final minute of normal time caused problems but the ball would not drop to Charnock’s advantage. Then Ball and Stott got in each other’s way and a goal kick was the result. In added time with Charnock pushing for an equaliser Congleton broke in numbers but Sanders raced back to block Burey’s cross with Congleton players queuing up in the box to score. It was typical of the centre back’s performance in this game.
It was a disappointing result for Charnock and their second league home defeat in a row but it is obvious that Congleton are going to be the team to beat this season and the Villagers made a spirited attempt to win the three points. In both the games against Leek Town in the FA Cup and again in this match Charnock have failed to hang onto a lead perhaps a little more concentration in defence in the closing stages of games is required.
Charnock face another difficult cup tie on Tuesday 25th September when they visit Giant Axe to play Lancaster City in Round 1 of the LFA Challenge Trophy. Kick-off is 7.45pm. On Saturday 29th September sees Charnock on the road again to play Irlam, kick-off is 3.00pm.