Eagley 2, Longridge Town 4

Longridge Town's Kieran Walmsley
Longridge Town's Kieran Walmsley

Longridge remain 10 points clear at the top of the West Lancashire League table despite having George Melling, and Brad Carsley sent off at bottom-of-the-table Eagley.

Manager Lee Ashcroft gave a debut to recent signing Mark Jeffers, in the absence of Ash Ball, in the only change to the line up from the Southport Hesketh victory two weeks ago.

On a poor pitch Town started brightly with Alex Randell, playing in a free role, firing just wide before George Melling hit the bar and Alex O’Rourke saw his follow up effort well saved.

However, on 15 minutes a low cross from the Eagley right saw a rare error from Lee Dovey in the Town goal as the inconsistent bounce beat him at his near post.

The ball then bobblied into the goal via George Melling’s shins, giving Eagley a 1-0 lead with a goal out of nowhere.

Town were struggling to get their passing game going as the narrow pitch deteriorated, but got a breakthrough on the half-hour.

The assistant referee spotted Brad Carsley having his shirt pulled in the area and a penalty was given.

Inexplicably, Carsley was yellow carded for his reaction before Kieran Walmsley stepped up to blast the ball home and make it 1-1.

Five minutes later and Joe Melling took advantage of a poor defensive header and beat the home keeper at his near post to put Town 2-1 up with a clinical finish.

Eagley weren’t in the game now and resorted to some heavy challenges; one such tackle led to a free kick 40 yards from goal directly in front of the visitors’ dugout.

With the keeper, and the majority of the crowd, expecting a cross, Ashcroft challenged Walmsley to shoot for goal.

He curled a beautiful shot high into the far corner beyond the despairing dive of the home keeper as the game now seemed safe with Longridge 3-1 up at half-time.

As has been the case recently, however, Town allowed Eagley back into the game in the second half as neither Morris nor Woods cleared their lines.

After a good save from Dovey, Eagley scored their second of the game; both of which were gifted to them by Town’s errors.

Thankfully, just six minutes later, Randell’s free kick was palmed out by the keeper and O’Rourke followed up to restore the two-goal lead and make it 4-2 to Longridge.

Chances then came and went with Randell, Jeffers, who was impressive on his debut, and Carsley going close to increasing the lead.

Yellow cards were now being liberally branded, albeit too late in the day, as the referee again struggled to control the game.

With the clock ticking down, George Melling’s frustrations finally got the better of him as he was given a straight red card card for an apparent stamp.

Ashcroft sent on Leon McLoughlin for Jordan Bowen, and Ged Morris replaced a tiring Jeffers but, with five minutes remaining, Carsley was given a second yellow after an altercation with the Eagley captain.

Now down to just nine men Town defended their lead with surprising ease during the six minutes of added time.