SKELMERSDALE United’s hopes got a double boost at Ossett Albion’s picturesquely named Dimple Wells ground on Tuesday night, some picturesque football bringing Tommy Lawson’s men a fairly comfortable 4-1 victory.
But when they left the pitch they found out that the team with potentially the strongest challenge to them, New Mills, had crashed 4-1 against Warrington Town, to strengthen United’s position at the top of the Evo-Stik Division One North.
On a cold night in an area that is known as Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle, Skelmersdale showed that they didn’t have any need for heating as they quickly carried the game to Albion. After just three minutes a flowing move between Mark Jackson and Josh Hine resulted in an effort from Kenny Strickland that warmed home goalkeeper Jody Barford’s hands as he made a fine save.
Barford didn’t get so lucky on the quarter-hour. A corner from the right found Rob McIntosh at the far post, his spectacular effort was blocked on the line, and Hine’s rebound was also blocked and ran out to Strickland some 15 yards from goal, who drilled a shot low into the net.
Albion fought back and Tyrone Gay put a header over the Skelmersdale crossbar from a free-kick, before a shot from a tight angle rattled the Skelmersdale post.
However, Skelmersdale restored their momentum from the half-hour. A quick counter attack saw a Hine shot bring another good save out of Barford and Mike Phenix almost squeezed in the rebound.
Then Phenix made Barford make a superb tip over his own crossbar, before McIntosh and Adam Morning went close just before the interval.
After the restart a Paul Woolcott cross found Morning and he almost netted, before Phenix was tripped as he powered his way into the penalty area, Jackson stepping up to fire Skelmersdale into a two goal lead in the 54th minute.
Hine and Dale Wright went close before the former made it 3-0. Hine beat the home offside trap and ran onto a finely weighted through ball from Tom Hardwick, before poking the ball past an outrushing Barford.
In the 77th minute a brief lack of concentration allowed Albion to pull a goal back. Substitute Marc Thompson’s cross from the right finding fellow substitute Josh Garbutt at the far post from where he guided the ball home.
Three minutes later Skelmersdale made Albion pay for their cheek by upping the tempo and making it four. Antony Hickey made space on the right and sent the ball across goal, Hine doing the rest for his second goal of the game.
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Ashton, Field, Bellew, Hardwick, McIntosh (McCartney, 83), Strickland, Phenix (Hickey, 77), Woolcott (Wright, 56), Jackson, Hine, Morning Subs (not used) Hughes, Griffiths
Referee: Anthony Murphy (York)