Match report: Longridge Town 4 Haslingden St Marys 0

Longridge Town player-manager Lee Ashcroft
Longridge Town player-manager Lee Ashcroft

Two goals from Town player-manager Lee Ashcroft and a man-of-the-match performance from Ash Ball proved to be too much for last season’s First Division champions.

St Marys started the brighter, however, with the first 10 minutes making it look like Town would have a tough night.

Skipper George Melling had suffered an injury scare, twisting his knee on the halfway line, but Joey Mullen wasn’t as fortunate after sustaining an ankle injury.

With Ball and Matty Bulcock coming into the game more, playing off Ashcroft, it was Ince who created the opening goal with a flicked header allowing Ball to outpace the defence and finish coolly.

Ince and Jake Higham both had shots saved before Matty Bulcock cut inside and saw his effort come back off the post.

Longridge had played some good football in the last 20 minutes of the first half and doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Ashcroft broke free on the right and his low cross was destined for Ince before he was fouled by Lee Cartwright to give Town a penalty.

A yellow card resulted and Ashcroft stepped up to slot the ball home and make it 2-0 as the whistle blew for half-time.

It was 3-0 seven minutes into the second half when Bulcock was unceremoniously upended inside the area with Ashcroft firing home his second penalty of the night.

Haslingden almost replied immediately with a 20-yard shot that clattered against the post with Town keeper Lee Dovey beaten.

Ryan Charnley was brought on to replace Ince and made an immediate impact, firing an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net to make it 4-0 with a little more than 20 minutes left.

Ashcroft’s work was done for the night and he was replaced by Tutu Chilufya, whose pace immediately caused problems.

Town also kept the ball well as the clock ticked down and, as the referee blew for full-time, an appreciative crowd applauded what had been an excellent performance.