Skelmersdale United 2 Great Harwood Town 2


The team showed several changes from the one which had a great win against Salford City in the previous game. Lee Sculpher was replaced by Neville Nelson at the back and Dennis Hill returned from injury. Steve McDonald was missing and the versatile Liam McManus took his place up front.
A cagey opening ten minutes was followed by the first real action of the game when a Darren Rogers pass gave Ed O’Neil a half chance on the edge of the box. A great effort cannoned back off the bar with the keeper well beaten, bringing the Harwood following of around 15 to life. That incident also acted as a wake up call to Skem who created a chance of their own which was magnificently turned away by Bobby Harris, continuing his terrific run of form. Price and Hill saw plenty of the ball in midfield for Harwood while the home side always looked dangerous when going forward. Nelson and Sculpher were dominant in the air, winning every header when the crosses came in.
Halfway through the first period, Skem should have been reduced to ten men when an horrific over the top two footed tackle sent Graham Price flying through the air, but the ‘Scouse’ referee only saw fit to hand out a yellow card. Thankfully, Price was able to continue after lengthy treatment. McManus then sent through Hill on the left after a great cross-field pass but as he homed in on goal, a great last-ditch tackle stopped him. The hosts then upped the pace once more and it took a couple of fine Harris saves to keep the Harwood goal in tact. But even he could do nothing when a shot from the edge of the box hit his right hand post, spun along the goal line and out for a goal kick on the left, phew! Not to be denied, Lee Thompson, Skem’s leading scorer, hit the game’s first goal and his 36th of the current campaign on 31 minutes. The Robins had to dig in as they were put under pressure and battled hard to get things moving at the other end. The half time whistle blew with Harwood having played their way back into the game and looking more than capable of getting an equaliser.
The second half continued as the first had ended with the Robins on the attack, and after several sorties into the Skem box, and half a dozen corners, the inevitable equaliser came-and how! A ball into the box was cleared as far as Neville Nelson standing fully thirty yards from goal. As the ball dropped to the ground, Nev connected sweetly to send it screaming into the top corner for the greatest goal ever seen at Victoria Park. The crowd went mad, the players went mad, and were still hugging the goalscorer when Skem attacked down the right side of our defence and scored to regain the lead. Harris still had to be alert and pulled off another outstanding save to keep Harwood in it, but the huge majority of the play was now taking place in and around the home penalty area.
On 74 minutes, the Robins once more drew level when Nelson’s central defensive partner, Neil Smith, volleyed a cross from Hill over the keeper. Another great goal had the fans dancing on the terraces again and it was now end to end, as both sides looked for the winner in the final few minutes. Some rather strange refereeing decisions had the Harwood following biting their nails but the closest anyone came to a goal was when Harris saved a great shot then leapt to his feet to block the rebound from only five yards. As the fans burst into a chorus of you’ll never walk alone, the full time whistle blew and was greeted with cheers from the Harwood faithful.


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©2009 J Fenton