ONE goal on paper looks a tight margin to win a game by, but really it was the visitors from Leicestershire that went home thankful for the margin, rather than Skelmersdale.
The goal moves Tommy Lawson’s men into third position in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table with relative ease at the West Lancashire College Stadium on Saturday.
Among the early impressions from the game was the clash of styles, Skelmersdale moving the ball about swiftly on the floor, Barwell relying on a more industrial method of playing to a couple of big forwards.
Skelmersdale started pretty sharpish too. Kevin Leadbetter had a fourth minute shot saved by Barwell goalkeeper Liam Castle, then saw a vicious looking cross from the right fail to get the necessary touch to turn his endeavour into a goal.
Significantly in the 14th minute Skelmersdale’s Matty Hughes went down holding his head after a challenge from Dan Spencer, but after referee Tom Neild had held long consultation with his assistant only a yellow card was shown to Spencer.
Adam Morning put a 25 yard effort over the crossbar, then Barwell had their best opportunity of the match when Luke Barlone couldn’t convert from a Dan Newton cross, before Skelmersdale new boy Dean Astbury was denied a debut goal by Castle.
In the 42nd minute Spencer finally did see red, after another challenge on Hughes left the latter holding his head again, only this time Mr Neild wasted no time in showing Spencer a second yellow card.
Territorially Skelmersdale dominated after the interval. Morning had an effort deflected wide after Hughes found him with a cross before Skelmersdale got the breakthrough.
The K J Rail Skelmersdale Man of the Match Alan Burton put Morning away down the left-wing with a finely weighted ball from the middle of the park.
On reaching the line Morning pulled the ball back across goal, Astbury was too mobile for his marker and reached the cross first, enabling him to side-foot home that debut goal.
If it wasn’t for keeper Castle, Skelmersdale would have had the game sealed and delivered long before the end.
He saved three times at players’ feet and made a tremendous diving save from Astbury and when Castle was beaten a last ditch tackle by Kieron Brehon kept Skelmersdale out.
Skelmersdale should probably have finished better, but they were unlucky to find a goalkeeper in such good form too.
Justice was done with the result though, as at times Barwell’s tactics were questionable and Skelmersdale were by far the better side on the day.
l SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Hibbert, Strickland, Holden, Hardwick ©, McIntosh, Dunn, Hughes, Burton, Astbury, Leadbetter (Tuck, 60), Morning Subs (not used) Holt, Wylie, Simpson, Short
l BARWELL: Castle, Albrighton, Spencer, Hadland G.(Edwards, 45), Hood, Weale, Brehon, Hadland S ©, Barlone, Towers (Lower, 63), Newton Subs 9not used) Gaunt, Brown-Hill, Julien
l Referee: Tom Neild (Holmfirth)
l Attendance: 242