Back to league action today against a team we had played earlier on in the season and a team who have given us our toughest test so far Ellesmere Port Athletic FC.
A battle was expected and a battle we had but today we were back to our best, great football, great work rate and passion.
From the off we camped in their half attacking at will, a looping Ryan Smith ball just evaded Philly Lennon at the back post and moments after we should have taken an early lead. Stu Hardman made a terrific run and squared the ball across the face of goal, Philly Lennon with the goal at his mercy smashed an effort high and it cannoned off the crossbar, it really should have been a goal.
Philly Lennon so nearly made up for that miss seconds later when he launched a superb raking ball which left Hardman one on one with the keeper, unfortunately his effort went wide. Hardman should have scored moments after that chance after Ryan Smith put a sumptuous thru ball on the plate for him but the keeper got down well to save.
Ellesmere threatened at times but not what we expected, whenever they launched balls forward our defence of Yates, Easterbrook, O’Donnell and Edge were in imperious form. On a rare venture forward Easterbrook went on a dazzling 50 odd yard run past one past 2 then past 3 and 4 players before playing in Dave Leslie who shot with his weaker left foot and the keeper stopped on the line not having 2 hands on the ball Easterbrook’s follow up effort was turned away.
Seconds later another chance went begging good work from Hardman found Curran 15 yards out and he went for placement when he should have put his foot through it, the ball smashing the crossbar. Seconds after that chance Curran went close again, superb football between Machin and Curran on the edge seen Curran smash a low effort which just narrowly missed the target.
A one sided half and how we went in at 0-0 was beyond me.
We started the second half again with intent, the pressing all over was a joy to watch as was our simple football, but once again a number of chances went begging…then we was nearly made to pay!
Ellesmere counter attacked and just as their midfielder was about to pull the trigger Curran put in a superb tackle to deny a goal scoring opportunity.
Then relief the goal finally came, from a free kick on the left Smith put in a wicked ball which Machin stooped to head, the ball looked to find its way into the net but with the chance of it going wide Easterbrook took no chance and bundled it over to give us a thoroughly deserved lead 0-1.
It could have got even better seconds later, a clever piece of skill from Curran saw him draw a foul and the resulting free kick was whipped in by Smith and met by the head of O’Donnell but somehow the keeper saved.
Kevin Machin was next after great play from Yates on the right, a ball was put in by Lennon but Machin’s header was saved by their busy keeper. Machin wanted a goal and he got just that when we earnt a corner, Currans delivery as has been for a number of weeks was again on point and his cross was met by a bullet of a header from Machin to put us firmly in control 0-2.
Jimbob replaced Lennon and was straight thru on goal moments after being introduced, fed by Hardman Thomas effort unfortunately was blazed well over.
Povall and Harper replaced Edge and Yates to wind down the clock even further.
A lovely run from el matador Leslie down the left nearly seen us go further in front but Ellesmere cleared, the resulting counter attack nearly left us sweating the last 15 minutes, a strong shot forced McLaughlin into a tremendous save low down to his right the ball fell kindly to their striker and just as it looked like a certain goal would arise Curran bravely blocked in the area, the defence stood firm and cleared.
Ellesmere looked frustrated and a few nasty challenges were being put in, Leslie was on the end of on as was Edge then when Curran turned a player inside out a nasty lunge took place which caused a few tasty shouts none more so than the usually calm O’Donnell, Curran looked in pain and was replaced by Lee Miller for the remaining 5 minutes.
Skipper then showed he has got his team mates back by putting the same person who had committed the foul 10 feet in the air with a robust challenge.
That’s how it ended, a terrific performance and a massive 3 points.
Today there was M.O.M’s everywhere
Jason in goal didn’t have much to do but when he was called into action pulled off an incredible save which came at a big time of the match.
Sam Yates was up and down all match, solid and composed he was a constant threat as was Edgey, tackle after tackle he had one of his best games to date.
The centre half pairing of Easterbrook and O’Donnell grows and grows they never lost one header and kept us as tight as we have ever looked, Easterbrook scoring the crucial goal nicking it off his partners toes shows they were a menace in the opposition area too.
The midfield trio of Smith, Leslie and Curran are also growing and growing this season, Smith Controls the tempo of the game with his intelligence and his stunning range of passing, Leslie vindicating management’s decision to throw him back in is the experienced head sensing danger with his spider senses, we don’t call him El Matador for nothing! Young Curran’s work rate has gone to a whole new level this season, he covers so much ground box to box and his corners are like a penalty opportunity to us.
The front 3 of Lennon, Hardman and Machin caused havoc, Machin was also everywhere, up and down never giving up his performance was rewarded with an absolute bullet of a header to seal the game, Hardman even though he missed a number of chances, was a constant thorn in Elsmere ports side, he harasses the life out of the opposition and while he didn’t get a goal he was pivotal in the result. Lennon had a terrific first half attacking their full back time and time again it looked at one point the poor lad was going to throw up he looked that dizzy.
Special mention to the subs apart from Jimbob who had a decent 25 minute spell, they didn’t get much game time but their support on the side is what drives on their team mates.
So it was incredibly hard but the M.O.M went to Dave Leslie for a terrific performance for the full 90 minutes …well done!!