Atherton LR 3 Eccleshall 4
By Jim Tunney
Ten man Eagles snatch added time winner at Crilly Park.
Eccleshall travelled to Crilly Park in good heart following Wednesday's home win against New Mills. Owen Wyatt replaced the unavailable Matt Johnson in goal and Lewis Dunn replaced Jordan Bennion.
Eccleshall started playing down the Crilly Park slope. David Moore had an early effort easily held by Wyatt. Theodore Kidd then outpaced Ben Cashmore and Dunn had to clear the cross. LR keeper Ben Purdham then came out to collect at the feet of Tom Wakefield following a Louis Downs cross. Then Shay Finney headed wide from a Danny Needham cross. A corner by Ben Giverin was headed against the Eagles bar by the dangerous Kidd with Wyatt beaten. Kidd outpaced Cashmore again and his shot was over the bar. On 36 minutes, LR took the lead when Kidd outpaced Callum Feeney to the byline and his hard low cross found Giverin on the edge of the box and his powerful drive found the roof of the net, giving Wyatt no chance. As Eccleshall looked to pull the goal back, Wakefield played a crossfield ball and Purdham raced out to collect from Downs. Wakefield then miscued a shot well wide of the post. On 43 minutes, LR went two up when Kidd beat two men in the box and brought a good save out of Wyatt - however, the ball ran clear and Kyle Tomlinson netted. Right on half time, Wakefield pulled one back for the Eagles when he found the net past Purdham.
Half Time: Atherton LR 2 Eccleshall 1
Eccleshall went 3-1 down within six minutes of the second half when the defence failed to clear their lines and the ball looped into the net with what appeared to be a deflected own goal. Moments later, Kidd ran through but hit the ball wide of the post. George Burslem replaced Needham as Eccleshall looked to pull back the deficit. Their task was made harder when they were reduced to ten men after Jake Standbridge picked up two yellow cards within the space of a few minutes and was sent off. Somehow, this seemed to inspire the Eagles and Downs found Wakefield and his volley was brilliantly saved by Purdham, who flung himself to his right to tip the ball away. Jack Warren was then cautioned for dissent before Eccleshall pulled a goal back on 83 minutes. Downs' powerful shot brought a great save out of Purdham but the ball came to Wakefield who found the corner of the net. LR were stunned two minutes later when Eccleshall equalised. A ball into the box from Wakefield deceived both Purdham and their defence and Dunn came in at the back post to slide the ball into the net. Warren was then forced to head clear as Atherton moved forward. Miles Johnson replaced Cashmore with minutes to go and in added time, Eccleshall snatched the winner. Downs beat the offside trap and he outpaced the defence before slamming the ball past Purdham - his celebration earning a booking from referee Gillon.
Full Time: Atherton LR 3 Eccleshall 4
The result continues Eccleshall's improved form of late and their 'never say die' approach right to the final whistle. Tom Wakefield picked up their opponent's man of the match nomination for his performance.
Team: Wyatt, Collins, Dunn, Warren, Cashmore (Johnson), Feeney, Needham (Burslem), Standbridge, Wakefield, Finney, Downs.
Unused sub: Bould.
Eccleshall complete their season this week with matches against Daisy Hill at Pershall Park on Bank Holiday Monday (3.00pm) and Abbey Hulton United on Thursday 10. May (7.45pm).