FOLLOWING last week’s dramatic win at Coppull United in the LFA Amateur Shield 2nd round, Hesketh Bank returned to league action at home to fellow promotion chasers Garstang.
With manager James Smith away, awaiting the arrival of his son Luke, Jamie Johnson took charge and made just one change to the starting 11, with Tom Wharton replacing Peter Henerty.
In front of a decent-sized crowd, and on a good surface, the match took a while to get going.
Garstang had already inflicted Hesketh Banks only defeat back in August, by the odd goal in three, and had themselves only lost one match - a heavy 6-1 defeat at league leaders Norcross & Warbreck, who still have a 100% record.
It was the visitors who struck first when Geirke’s 18-yard strike wrong-footed keeper Sergeant. It could have been worse when Smethurst appeared to have brought down Garstang’s centre forward in the box but referee Scofield waved play on.
Five minutes later Burns equalised, cutting in from the right to drill past the keeper. Neil Hulme then saw his effort brilliantly saved and Sean Royle suffered the same fate when he flicked on a corner.
However on the stroke of half time the keeper was rooted to his line when leading goal scorer and skipper Birkby’s direct free kick hit the back of the net to give him his 19th goal of the season, and his team the lead.
Now seemingly in control, and having only conceded 11 goals in their previous 10 league games, Hesketh Bank began the second half confidently but just five minutes later the visitors equalised when Draycott slotted home.
Garstang stepped up a gear and were rewarded on 65 minutes with a direct free kick from Makin which gave Sergeant no chance from 30 yards out.
Now behind, Birkby forced another fine save from the visitors’ keeper but Garstang looked dangerous on the break and centre forward Squirrel found himself clear and cooly lobbed the ball over the advancing Sergeant to put his side 4-2 up after 72 minutes.
Hesketh Bank tried to find a reply but were unable to create much, and it was the visitors who deservedly ran out winners, in the process inflicting the double and leapfrogging Hesketh Bank, who are now 5th in the table.
Smith will return this Saturday and will be hoping that this defeat was only a temporary setback as he prepares his team for the visit of Golborne Sports from Warrington in the LFA Amateur Shield 3rd round tie which kicks off at 2pm