SKELMERSDALE UNITED came up trumps again in the race for the Evo-Stik Division One North title, having beaten Mossley 2-1 on Saturday, they raised their standards even higher at Shawe View on Tuesday evening, not just returning with three points but establishing a huge psychological advantage in the way they beat their nearest rivals for honours.
Manager Tommy Lawson after emerging from a pile of mud after his “Eddie The Eagle” impression when Skelmersdale scored the second goal paid a massive compliment to his players when he said; “We set a very high standard when we won at Mossley in October, but tonight we raised that bar even higher, all eleven players deserve praise for a great effort.”
The victory leaves Skelmersdale in a tremendous position, top of the table, with a four point advantage, five and three games respectively in hand on their nearest opponents.
Skelmersdale grabbed the initiative from the off and after only 55 seconds they went agonisingly close, Gary Burnett toe ending the ball past Trafford goalkeeper Tom Read after Kenny Strickland set him up, but the ball trickled wide of the goal.
Trafford are a good team and they responded with a free-kick from Andy Smart that went about a foot over the crossbar and a through-ball to Will Ahern that was snubbed out by Skelmersdale goalkeeper Sam Ashton.
All this time Skelmersdale looked promising every time they attacked. In the 12th minute a neat movement between Louis Corrigan and Mark Jackson resulted in the latter seeing his shot saved by Read.
The opening goal arrived in the 19th minute. Paul Woolcott received the ball in the centre-circle and set off on a run, drawing home defenders in toward him he released the ball to Burnett on the left, who advanced before sending a glorious chip over Read into the far side of the goal. It was just the start Skelmersdale needed.
It is fair to say that Skelmersdale controlled the first-half from that point on and arguably they should have been more than 1-0 up at the interval and if it wasn’t for keeper Read they would have been.
Antony Hickey went close after 24 minutes, Matty Hughes saw an effort saved in the 33rd minute, before Read thwarted Burnett three times and finally finished off with a save from Jackson.
For the first fifteen minutes of the second period Skelmersdale had to weather an offensive from Trafford, but it more of squall than a full blown storm, Sam Ashton saved from Shelton Payne twice and Martyn Andrews, but they were fairly routine.
On the hour Skelmersdale made it 2-0. Hughes broke down the right at pace then centred the ball to Burnett, Read pulled off his now customary great save but this time Burnett was able to latch onto the rebound, with Read out of position the nineteen year old coolly slotted the ball into the empty net.
The last half-hour became a pattern, Trafford trying desperately to salvage the game and Skelmersdale swiftly counterattacking into the space where the home defenders had been. Trafford didn’t create a great deal and Skelmersdale should really have scored more.
Ashton saved from Smart and Kamahl Whight at one end, at the other Burnett was very unlucky not to achieve a deserved hat-trick.
Skelmersdale go to New Mills on Saturday, they on paper are now Skelmersdale’s nearest rivals, in ninth place fifteen points behind Tommy Lawson’s men but with a game in hand. A maths “O” Level is almost compulsory if you are a Skelmersdale United fan this season.
TRAFFORD: Read, Brown, Smart, Mason, Bayunu ©, Schofield, Payne, Andrews, Oates (Whight, 80), Ahern (Shipton, 70), Ashton P. Subs (not used) Knight, Gallanders
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Ashton S., Field, Corrigan, Hardwick ©, McIntosh, Strickland, Hickey (Morning, 86), Woolcott, Jackson, Burnett, Hughes (Phenix, 83) Subs (not used) Bellew, Wright, McCartney
Referee: D. Underwood (Poulton-le-Fylde)