SKELMERSDALE UNITED eased into the last sixteen of the Doodson Sports Cup on Tuesday night at Stainton Park thanks to a goal in each half from recent signing Jack Laird, on the night Skem having far too much movement and verve for Radcliffe.
Attacking up the slope in the first-half Skelmersdale forced the home defence back for almost the entire opening thirty minutes, Kenny Strickland, Matty Hughes and Gareth Peet in particular standing out as they switched the ball quickly around the pitch.
Hughes was combing well with Laird and the pair worked well in the 24th minute. Hughes playing the ball to Laird then running on the pick up the return pass but putting his shot inches wide of home goalkeeper Chris Cheetham’s left hand post.
The same two players were at it again a minute later, only this time the ball was delivered by Hughes into a central position in the goalmouth and Laird blasted the ball home after Cheetham had been pulled out of position by the sheer tempo of the build-up.
Radcliffe started to get more of the possession before the interval but they were kept at arm’s length by Skelmersdale who still looked the more likely scorers with frequent sharp counterattacks.
Skelmersdale opened the second-half looking to bag the killer second goal and in the main Radcliffe were again forced back, but they did pose one threat, when after a neat move down the right-wing, the ball was sent to the far post, where all home striker Lewis Killeen could do was head the ball onto the roof of the net.
The winning goal arrived in the 62nd minute and it was a credit to Peter Wylie who on the night showed no signs of suffering any after effects of his head injury from Saturday. From the right-back spot Wylie set off at pace and played the ball into Hughes feet, the Skelmersdale number seven played the ball into the space behind the home left-back and Wylie was there to cross the ball into the box. Laird trapped the ball with his right foot and switched it to his left before firing across Cheetham into the far corner. The move was incisive and devastating.
From that point on the game was effectively over, Radcliffe had as much of the remaining 28 minutes as Skelmersdale, but you always got the impression that Skelmersdale had more in the locker and could step things up if they had to.