A PAIR of Louis Corrigan free-kick specials were enough to keep Skelmersdale United on maximum points for the season as they prised open a dogged Bamber Bridge defence on Saturday. The victory keeps United on the pace with the leading clubs in Evo-Stik Division One North where significantly they have up to four games in hand on some clubs.
Skelmersdale were on top in the opening period and in the twelfth minute Lewis Field went off on a run up the pitch before slotting the ball into space behind the defence, Gary Burnett sprinted through, but home keeper Lee Dovey saved the shot at Burnett’s feet.
Bridge didn’t build a viable attack until the 14th minute, but the counterattacking move went close, United keeper Sam Ashton diving full length to his right to palm away an Andy Bell toe-ender after Steve Settle created the opening.
In the 24th minute Tom Hardwick pushed another ball through the Bridge back line and again Dovey rescued the hosts with a dive at Burnett’s feet.
Chances were few, both defences deserving the credit for that. However, the deadlock was broken in the 37th minute. A clumsy challenge just outside the penalty area on Paul Woolcott brought a free-kick, Corrigan lined up then thumped the ball low inside the near-post, Dovey got to the shot but the power behind it beat him, giving Skelmersdale the lead.
The advantage was almost doubled just before the interval, Tony Rendell thundered onto a Kenny Strickland corner, but was unable to keep his header under the crossbar.
Things were still tight after the restart, Ashton making a fairly routine save from Darren Green from the only real move until the hour mark. Strickland made a change to that though in the 62nd minute. Latching onto a loose ball some 40 yards from goal he lobbed it into the space vacated behind an off his line Dovey, but the keeper saved his blushes by scurrying back and scrambling the ball around the post, preventing what would have been a memorable goal and a memorable piece of opportunism from Strickland.
Dovey saved another Corrigan shot in the 64th minute, but in the 71st minute, he was left glued to the floor in amazement by Corrigan’s sheer audacity, as were most of the spectators. Skelmersdale were awarded a free-kick on the left side of a fairly central position at the front of the penalty area. As most football students know this constitutes a situation for a right-footed free-kick, so when Strickland stepped over the ball and it was hit by the left-footed Corrigan around the left-hand side of the Bridge defensive wall, it left everyone aghast as it roared into the net. Corrigan has built a reputation for quality free-kicks, this was his best yet.
With the score now 2-0 Bridge threw caution to the wind and threw everything at United, but Sam Ashton and his defence seem to thrive on that nowadays.
Ashton made a good save at the far post from Settle, then Hardwick headed a dangerous cross to safety, before Ashton saved again from a Bell header. By the 80th minute the game was all over, Bridge’s pressure proved to be a squall rather than a full-blown storm and by the end it might even have been more than two for Skelmersdale.
BAMBER BRIDGE: Dovey, Henry, Marlow (Green L., 60), Atherton (c), Lawlor, Mahoney, Settle (Reid, 79), Kay, Bell, Green D. (Reynolds, 60), Waddecar Subs (not used) Bonaminio, Barton
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Ashton, Field, Hardwick (c), McIntosh, Rendell, Strickland, Hickey (Bellew, 72), Woolcott, Jackson, Burnett, Corrigan (Morning, 81) Subs (not used) Hine, Wright, Saleh
Referee: David Underwood