The top two went head-to-head for the first time this season with Longton and Lancaster both putting their 100% records on the line in the SportsReach League. In an epic encounter played at Longton’s 4G pitch in blustering hail and wind, it was Lancaster who drew first blood with an early header from Jonny Sudell following a set-piece. Longton were back on level terms within minutes after a flowing move which ended with Danny Stephenson sweeping the ball home despite the efforts of Lancaster goalkeeper Stephen Sargent. In a breathless opening 15 minutes, Lancaster retook the lead after an incisive move down the right saw Richard Beavis escape his marker and slip the ball past Longton’s stand-in goalkeeper Ayman Fazeli.
It was end-to-end stuff with chances galore and it was Longton who struck next to equalise for the second time; Danny Stephenson tucking home at the near post following a brisk counter attack. Jonny Sudell then cracked the upright with a ferocious free-kick right on half-time as both sides went in level at the break.
Into the second half and the game continued in the same vein with great attacking play and chances at both ends. For the first time in the match, Longton took the lead on the hour mark as Danny Stephenson completed his hat-trick with a lovely left-footed lob over the onrushing goalkeeper. But within seconds, Lancaster were awarded a penalty following a full blooded challenge in the box and centre-half Martin Lewis slotted home a perfect penalty in off the post to make it 3-3. In a rollercoaster of a game, Lancaster edged back in front after a goalmouth scramble which saw Jonny Sudell very much ‘Jonny on the spot’ to ram the ball home. In a highly entertaining match in which both sides refused to be beaten, Longton responded again with ten minutes to go as Dave Sharp swivelled on the edge of the box and whipped a left-footed shot into the top corner to make it 4-4.
Both sides relinquished their 100% records in the league but both still remain unbeaten and occupy the top two positions.
Elsewhere, Fleetwood recorded another convincing victory and a second successive clean sheet with a 5-0 home victory over Fulwood. In-form winger Corey Harrison notched a brace to make it six goals in two games, helping Fleetwood close the gap on the top two.
Loko have also secured back-to-back victories following a 5-2 home win over Great Eccleston. Tom Atkinson was on target with two goals whilst captain Graeme Beaumont tucked away his first of the season.
In the final match of the weekend, Quernmore edged past Garstang in a five-goal thriller played on Heysham’s 4G pitch. Lewis Ryder scored twice for the home side who had been pegged back from 2-0 to 2-2 before a late, late winner.
Results // Saturday 30th January
Longton 4-4 Lancaster
Danny Stephenson 10, 37, 60 Dave Sharp 80 // Jonny Sudell 5, 75 Richard Beavis 12, Martin Lewis (pen) 62
Fleetwood 5-0 Fulwood
James Baron 17, Tom Shields 25, Corey Harrison 53, 70 Shane Turner 74
Loko 5-2 Great Eccleston
Tom Atkinson 9, 24 Graeme Beaumont 50, Glen Hanmer 80, Chris Gardner 87 // Adam Moat 41, Jack Sharples 64
Quernmore 3-2 Garstang
Lewis Ryder 33, 37 Steve Longton 87 // Deane Cross 67, Dave Jack 75