SKELMERSDALE UNITED’S winning start to the season carried on at the West Lancashire College Stadium against Salford City in the Carlsberg FA Trophy.
United showing their team spirit by coming back from 2-1 down, with an excellent second-half show, that gives them a trip to Prescot Cables a week on Saturday.
The game had started very well, promising young striker Gary Burnett marking his first starting birth since joining from Atherton Collieries by giving Skelmersdale the lead after 14 minutes. Spying the potential presented by a long ball and seeing the hesitancy of City defender Jameel Ible, Burnett pinched the ball and then when faced with visiting keeper Richie Branagan, he coolly tucked the ball away into the bottom corner with all the aplomb of an experienced Premiership player. It was classic opportunism.
It could easily have been all over before City levelled in the 29th minute. Louis Corrigan had a shot saved by Branagan, Kenny Strickland fired just over the crossbar and there was sheer panic in the City backline after a corner as the ball ricocheted back and forth.
When City equalised it came completely out of the blue, a seemingly simple ball into the Skelmersdale defence being completely missed, allowing Nathan McDonald a tap-in that was easier than he will ever get on a football field.
When Salford went 2-1 up in the 37th minute, it constituted a shock turn around. The ball was knocked clear after a corner and fell straight to City left-back Jack Lane, he played a superb diagonal ball across the penalty area and Steve Yarwood finished with a quality left-foot effort into the far corner.
Skelmersdale had dominated but for an eight minute spell, but even so they might have still been level going into the break, had Sponsors Man of the Match Mark Jackson been luckier with a classy chest down and volley in added time.
It was clear after the interval that Salford was setting their stall out to hang on to what they had achieved, but they were shaken by Skelmersdale midfielder Paul Woolcott in the 55th minute. After the ball was slipped sideways to him, he unleashed a ferocious shot from 25 yards that left Branagan grasping at thin air as it flew inside his left-hand post.
Salford were now hanging on and were under intense pressure. In the 67th minute, the pressure told and Jackson was floored by Salford manager Darren Sheridan, in the penalty area, too. After consulting his assistant referee Kelvin Sarsfield quite rightly dismissed Sheridan and awarded Skelmersdale a penalty. Antony Hickey fired home from the spot and Skelmersdale took control.
Briefly Salford rallied and United keeper Sam Ashton helped a McDonald overhead kick around the post, but now it was a question of when, not if United sealed the game up.
In the 72nd minute, a Hickey cross created agony for Jackson and Burnett as neither could put headers into the net, the ball dropped to Strickland and he drove it into the net from an acute angle.
Any team can get lucky and score a goal – Salford had already done that – so the fourth goal was vital. Now Tommy Lawson was able to make changes and rest a couple of players in preparation for next Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Tadcaster Albion. While before the end Corrigan (twice) and Strickland went very close and Salford still had time to show some more indiscipline. It had been another comprehensive display from Skelmersdale, with discipline in the face of provocation as its key.
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Ashton, Field (Evans, 77), Corrigan, Hardwick (c), McIntosh, Strickland, Hickey (Wright, 77), Woolcott, Jackson, Burnett, Bellew. Subs (not used) Burke, Peet, Rendell.
SALFORD CITY: Branagan, Welsh, Lane, White, Ible (Wood, 75), Bellamy, McDonald, Thompson (c), Kinsella, Sheridan, Yarwood (72. Briody) Subs (not used) Heald, Taberner, Fitton.
REFEREE: Kelvin Sarsfield