THERE are times in football when what on the surface looks like an underachievement can be actually a big achievement and Saturday was one of those days for Skelmersdale United.
Facing a big strong team who had to win at the West Lancashire College Stadium to keep their play-off hopes alive, Tommy Lawson’s lads battled, fought, stood strong and always looked the team more likely to win, but still took a vital point, that was boosted even more when the news filtered through that both the main rivals to Skelmersdale had lost, so the smiles and optimism reigned.
The first-half was not an epic, both teams had too much at stake to allow that and neither team were prepared to take much of a risk.
Skelmersdale went close in the tenth minute. Mark Jackson held up the ball and played a one two with Gary Burnett, before the former saw his shot just go wide.
Warrington didn’t trouble the Skelmersdale goalkeeper too much until the 27th minute when a Jon Newby shot finished up on the roof of the net.
In the 31st minute, Jackson almost found himself clear and a couple of minutes later at the other end Ashley Ruane had a shot blocked, before Lewis Field got forward on one of his ambitious runs but saw his shot wide wide.
The second-half was far more thrilling.
An opening minute effort from Warrington’s Andy Fowler brought a great save out of Skelmersdale’s Sam Ashton then down the other end Matty Hughes created a situation from which Jackson went close.
Ruane cut inside but Ashton made a two fisted save, before mysteriously there was no offside flag as Ciaran Kilheeney went through, but Ashton did well with that one too. Straight away down at the Clubhouse End Josh Hine was clean in but Warrington’s Andy Robertson matched his Skelmersdale counterpart.
The introduction of Mike Phenix and Hine around the hour mark had made a difference as their strength started to tell against Warrington’s powerful but now tiring backline.
In the 67th minute Adam Morning finished an enterprising run that left defenders in his wake by agonisingly seeing his effort go inches wide of the far post.
In the last 20 minutes Skelmersdale gradually emerged the stronger outfit. Even so, Kilheeney still needed to be thwarted by Ashton in the 79th minute.
Skelmersdale intensified the pressure and Warrington were forced to defend.
Phenix hit the crossbar and Hine brought another good save out of Robertson.
The pendulum was swinging Skelmersdale’s way and when with a minute to go Field set off on a determined run down the right then combined with Phenix to send the ball into the goalmouth, Jackson got to the ball first and it was 1-0 to Skelmersdale, earning him the Central Refinishers Man of the Match award.
Two minutes into added time a now desperate Warrington made a last throw of the dice and got lucky. A throw-in was quickly taken on the right and former Liverpool player John Miles hit the post, the ball dropped to Phil Mooney and he easily equalised. Skelmersdale disputed the assistant’s decision not to give offside but to no avail.
After the game Tommy Lawson had every right to be proud of his team, they had faced a very experienced team who were as motivated to win as any team Skelmersdale will face all season, they has passed the test.
Tommy said: “Warrington are a big strong team and they came knowing they had to win, it was potentially intimidating but we kept our focus on our game and produced an excellent performance.”
l Skelmersdale United: Ashton, Field, Corrigan, Hardwick , McIntosh, Strickland, Hughes (Phenix, 60), Woolcott, Jackson, Burnett (Hine, 63), Morning (Hickey, 80) Subs (not used) Wright, Griffiths
l Warrington Town: Robertson, Davies, Doran, Kerr, McCarten, Dogan, Fowler (Mooney, 85), Mannix (Brown, 80), Kilheeney, Newby (Miles, 74), Ruane. Subs (not used) Coulter, West.