Stalybridge Celtic 4
IT all went wrong for Burscough and caretaker manager Chris Myers from the 38th minute at Bower Fold, as the Linnets’ relegation was confirmed.
Until then The Linnets had more than matched the play-off chasing hosts and arguably should have been two goals up.
An over ambitious cross field ball, setting Stalybridge midfielder Keith Briggs free on a 35 yard run that ended with him smashing a powerful shot low past Burscough keeper Kyle Clancy.
Burscough’s first wasted chance arrived in the third minute.
Jon Goulding tackled an opponent and sent Josh Hine clean in behind the home defence in a central position, Hine slotted the ball wide of advancing keeper Paul Phillips but agonisingly wide of Phillips right hand post too.
Chris Myers’ team dominated possession in the early stages and by the 20th minute they had racked up six corners, Stalybridge were very much on the back foot.
Wide men Matt Parry and Eddie Stanford on the left causing the home defence no end of problems.
An 11th minute Ryan Wade header dropped just the wrong side of the bar, and then Goulding turn a header just wide in the 18th.
Stalybridge broke in the 23rd minute and although he dived full length Clancy appeared to have Lee Ellington’s shot covered.
Chris Holland and Parry combined well in the 27th minute to find Michael Yates, who couldn’t get his volley on target. Before, in the 35th minute Wade first harassed Rhys Meynell by the corner flag, then after cutting inside blazed a shot across the face of goal.
A warning of what was to come was issued in the 37th minute. Briggs latched onto a loose ball, but lashed it over the top, as it turned out he was only getting his range.
Seconds later Tony Evans on the right, attempted to switch the ball to the left, Briggs intercepted and set off towards Burscough’s goal, from twenty yards he fired home.
Burscough still posed a threat and Yates fired wide from 15 yards in the 43rd minute, then Stalybridge struck a killer blow two minutes into added time.
Greg Wilkinson fired a shot that ricocheted around the Burscough area, but was hacked clear, Briggs picked the ball up and sent it into the path of Andy Smart, who connected with the sweet spot of his foot and the ball flew into the top corner from at least 25 yards.
After the game Myers described Smart’s goal as: “a body blow to Burscough’s confidence, arriving when it did”. They certainly had no luck in the first-half.
Burscough started the second-half well. In the 50th minute Phillips went full length to keep out a Wade shot from 15 yards, after the energetic Linnet cleverly evaded his marker. Then Yates fired over from 25 yards.
Stalybridge, with the Bower Fold slope and a two goal lead to help them, gradually secured control as the half progressed.
They were now holding Burscough at arms length, while always dangerous on the break. Ellington fired over the crossbar, then, lively substitute Connor Jennings missed an absolute sitter.
In the 79th minute Stalybridge finally killed off any lingering Burscough hopes, Evans tripped Jennings and the resulting spot-kick was dispatched into the Burscough net by Jennings.
The final Stalybridge goal was a route one affair. Phillips cleared down the park and Ellington headed the ball on, Jennings ran onto the ball and slotted it past Clancy.
After the game Myers assistant Dominic Morley (pictured) said: “That was never a 4-0 game.”
Myers agreed saying: “Anyone who was here could see four nil flattered them, even their manager said so after the game.”
Myers who has previously managed Dawlish Town and played for Torquay United and Dundee United added; “I was pleased with the players attitude”.
Stalybridge Celtic: Phillips, Battersby, Meynell, Keeling, Barwick (Bowler, 45), Sykes, Wilkinson, Briggs, Newbold (Jennings, 56), Ellington, Smart (Torpey, 64) Subs (not used) Meechan, Barlow
Burscough: Clancy, Parry, Stanford, Moogan , Evans, Roberts (Shearwood, 57), Goulding, Holland, Hine (Ennis, 77), Yates (Davies, 64), Wade Subs (not used) Dacey, Smith
Referee: P. Graham (Failsworth)