After another week of wind and rain across the north-west, it was doubtful whether we’d see any football in the SportsReach League on Saturday but thankfully, three out of the four fixtures went ahead despite the soft and soggy conditions.
Lancaster and Longton, the top two and still unbeaten, both faced away trips to Quernmore and Fleetwood respectively which – on paper – looked like tricky fixtures to overcome. Meanwhile, Great Ecc and Wray went head-to-head at Boundary Park in a repeat of their recent Champions Cup Quarter-Final.
In the end, Longton managed to keep up the pressure on the leaders with a 5-1 victory which didn’t tell the whole story of the game. The visitors went ahead with Danny Stephenson’s low drive but there was very little to separate both sides until a frenetic last ten minutes when Longton, and Stephenson, got their second only for Fleetwood to pull one back immediately. As the home side committed men forward in a bid to get something out of the game, Longton scored three late goals on the break – including a 50-yard strike from Adam Stammers and two more for Stephenson to move him clear in the race for the ‘Golden Boot’.
With Longton’s victory, Lancaster needed a win to retain their position at the top and they responded with a convincing win at Quernmore. Following a tight first-half where Tom Luxton had put the visitors ahead only for the home side to equalise through Ryan Burrows, Lancaster put in a strong second half performance with goals from Dan Sudell, Jonny Sudell, Michael White (twice) and Richard Beavis securing another vital win.
Elsewhere, Great Eccleston picked up three points against a Wray side that unfortunately had to play the second half with ten men due to injury. Wray had initially started well with a first-minute goal from player-manager Mark Ellershaw and, following Jonny Leech’s equaliser, two quick-fire goals from George Whitaker gave the visitors a 3-1 half-time lead. But ‘Eccy’ turned up the heat in the second half, helped by a hat-trick from Jack Sharples, and turned things around to record a 5-3 win – their first home league victory of the season.
Quernmore 1-6 Lancaster
Ryan Burrows 45 // Tom Luxton 11, Dan Sudell 47, Jonny Sudell 52, Michael White 62, 87, Richard Beavis 82
Fleetwood 1-5 Longton
Andrew Windsor 80 // Danny Stephenson 23, 77, 82, 87 Adam Stammers 81
Great Ecc 5-3 Wray
Jonny Leech 15, Jack Sharples 53, 65, 79 Ben Clark 61 // Mark Ellershaw 1, George Whitaker 35, 39
Garstang P-P Fulwood