SKELMERSDALE United moved up into second spot in the Evo-Stik Division One North on Saturday with what was a comfortable victory over the strugglers from West Yorkshire.
Still the only unbeaten team in the whole Evo-Stik League, Skelmersdale reached the one third mark in terms of games played, with arguably 40 per cent of the points necessary to achieve their ultimate aim of promotion in the bag.
The fact that it took Skelmersdale until the 22nd minute to take the lead was down to a combination of some wayward finishing and an inspired performance from Garforth’s young goalkeeper Chris Senior.
After having a blatant third minute penalty appeal for a foul on Mark Jackson turned away, Senior saved from Gary Burnett, Adam Morning and Antony Hickey in the first 14 minutes.
The goal came after Burnett was put in down the inside-left channel and hit a shot that Senior did really well to parry, but the ball went in off defender Andy Villerman.
Skelmersdale continued to press, Senior continued to perform, twice keeping out Jackson and frustrating Hickey again.
It was almost too easy for Skelmersdale and that was where the problem lay.
A minute into added time before the break Garforth broke, two tackles were missed and Brett Malanda was put in on goal, faced with Sam Ashton leaving his goal-line, Malanda cleverly slotted the ball into the corner of the net.
Skelmersdale went straight onto the offensive, in a packed goalmouth the ball dropped to Morning and he drove it low into the net from 15 yards out, to instantly restore Skelmersdale’s lead.
The second-half wasn’t a thriller. Garforth fell deeply onto the defensive and Senior was instrumental in the resistance.
However, in the 59th minute, Skelmersdale finally established the two goal cushion they needed. Skelmersdale were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal in a central position for a foul on DDC Building and Joinery Man of the Match Paul Woolcott.
Kenny Strickland hit a rasping shot that thudded against Senior’s right-hand post, the ball went across the box and Jackson kept his cool as he finished well from close range.
It was game up for Garforth, they had set their stall out to defend in depth and see what they could pinch on the counterattack. It had worked once, but three times was highly unlikely.
In the latter stages Strickland hit the post again with a free-kick, but it was mission accomplished for Tommy Lawson’s men, they are four points behind leaders Mossley with a massive five games in hand.
l SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Ashton, Field (Turner, 59), Corrigan (Bellew, 71), Hardwick (c), McIntosh, Strickland, Hickey (Phenix, 66), Woolcott, Jackson, Burnett, Morning Subs (not used) Houghton, Saleh
l GARFORTH TOWN: Senior, McLean, O’Neill, Asquith (Richards, 73), Villerman, Benjamin (Bracken, 66), Lyn, Smith (c), Burgess, Malanda, Cousins (Sherrife 48) Subs (not used) Kirk, Donaldson
l Referee: James Wilson (Stockport)
l Attendance: 181