WHEN Skelmersdale United goalkeeper Sam Ashton saved a penalty two minutes before the interval off Prescot’s only viable attack of the whole first-half at Valerie Park, it arguably set his team on their way to a comprehensive FA Trophy victory.
At the time, Skelmersdale had dominated the first 43 minutes of this second qualifying round tie, but only scored once. And when the penalty was awarded, United lost defender Tony Rendell to a red card that could be described as unfortunate and they would also have been back to square one.
So Ashton’s save was crucial.
Skelmersdale had the momentum with them from the off and after just three minutes Mark Jackson cleverly helped the ball on and put Josh Hine through, albeit on an angle, and Hine drilled his shot inches wide of the far post.
Prescot got no such let-off after 12 minutes.
A corner saw the ball cleared wide, Louis Corrigan released Kenny Strickland down the left, Strickland curled the ball across goal and Jackson nipped in to steer the ball into the Cables net from around six yards for a goal that was enthusiastically greeted by the whole team.
It could easily have been more with Strickland at his creative best.
Antony Hickey went close after Strickland side-footed him in after 20 minutes, then off Strickland’s corner Rob McIntosh bulleted in a header that somehow was cleared from the goal line.
The defining moment arrived about two minutes before the half-time whistle.
A fairly innocuous ball looked sure to be cleared by Rendell; however, the ball took a bad bounce, Cables’ Mario Bonetta pounced and ran across the penalty area.
Rendell tripped him, a penalty was given and the United man was shown a red card.
Former Skelmersdale striker Jonathon Bathurst hit the spot kick low, but Ashton went full length to beat the shot away.
After an interval reshuffle, Skelmersdale emerged a little tentative, but they were soon back to their dominant selves, and in the 70th minute grabbed their second.
Corrigan terrorised Davidson Banda in the right-back position and played the ball to the near-post area from where Hickey fired home.
Then, after 87 minutes, it was 3-0 when Hickey put a shot under home keeper Xavier Parisi to finish the game off.
Manager Tommy Lawson was very pleased, saying after the match: “The response of the players was terrific, with Sam Ashton typifying the attitude, you can only give them credit.”
PRESCOT CABLES: Parisi, San Felipe (Banda, 54), Fielding (Webb, 79), Williams, Rimmer. Booth, McCulloch, Murphy (McCoy, 67), Bathurst, Bonetta, Edwards Subs (not used) Barnett, Longrigg
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Ashton, Field (Wright, 81), Corrigan, Hardwick, McIntosh, Strickland, Woolcott, Hickey, Jackson (Evans, 77), Hine (Burnett, 77), Rendell Subs (not used) Burke, Birchall
Referee: R. Woodward (Congleton)