Match report: Haslingden St Mary’s 1 Longridge Town 6

Joe Melling was named at wing-back in Town's victory at Haslingden St Mary's
Joe Melling was named at wing-back in Town's victory at Haslingden St Mary's
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West Lancashire League

Manager Lee Ashcroft picked a young side with suspension and illness robbing him of George Melling, Jordan Tucker and Kevin Leadbetter.

Midfielder Brad Wilks started in an unfamiliar centre-half role as part of a back three along with Joey Mullen and Ben Ashcroft, while Alex Murphy and Joe Melling were in the wing-back spots.

There was a poor start for Town, however, with Matt Martindale rising highest to head home the opening goal for Haslingden after just four minutes.

Conor Linighan saw a header touched onto the bar by the home keeper, though Town also had Lee Dovey to thank for a good save.

Mitch Newsham, starting up front with captain Ash Ball, got Town up and running with a close-range overhead kick making it 1-1 after 17 minutes.

Captain Ball was tireless, working well with Newsham, and Alex Murphy was running riot down the left.

It was Murphy’s ball into Newsham that gave Town the chance to turn the game on its head as the Haslingden keeper conceded a penalty.

Newsham duly fired the ball into the top of the net to put Town in front as they began to click into gear.

Murphy then scored what was the goal of the game at that point, driving down the left before firing a superb low shot across the keeper to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Town weren’t finished there though as Linighan picked up the ball 30 yards from goal before hitting an unstoppable right-footed shot into the top corner of the goal.

Leading 4-1, there was still time for Newsham to complete his hat-trick, scoring Town’s third goal in five minutes with a textbook finish past the keeper from Ball’s slide-rule pass.

The whistle went to end the half and Town were applauded to a man from the hardy souls who had made the trip to the Rossendale Valley to follow their team.

As expected there were no changes at the interval, with Ashcroft reminding his players that they were still in a game.

Ball created a chance for Aaron Halliwell after 50 minutes but, on a deteriorating surface, he slipped and saw his shot trickle just wide.

Town were relaxed now, playing the ball wide at will, and after a great run by Ball, Danny Wilkinson made his trademark timed run into the area to put Town 6-1 ahead with 30 minutes to go.

Murphy had been outstanding for Town and he was taken off, as a precaution, to a standing ovation as striker Chris Ward was introduced into the game, and Tutu Chilufya came on for Newsham.

Both lads had given their all and, with four goals between them, had played their part in this excellent performance.

Chilufya’s pace caused problems straight away as he ran at the home defence.

Ward was unlucky to see his close-range effort sneak wide as he looked to add to his recent goal tally for the reserves.

Jordan Wilder was also given a run out as he replaced Halliwell and Town now had an abundance of pace on the field as Ashcroft looked to expoit a tiring home defence.

It wasn’t to be however and the referee, who had an excellent game, twice playing an advantage that led to a Town goal, blew for full-time to end a superb team performance.