Eccleshall welcomed high-flying Sandbach United to Pershall Park with memories of their heavy defeat the last time both sides met still fresh in the mind. Liam Kelly juggled the line-up slightly from the Boxing Day win at Abbey Hulton with Aidan Blaise unavailable and Sandbach were looking to boost their promotion prospects.
An early Sandbach attack forced Eagles keeper Aaron Woolrich into a diving save and, after the half settled down, both teams were testing each other. After good work by Liam Fitzpatrick and Kieran Alley, Jake Pollard’s fizzing shot was just over the bar. The visitors took the lead on 28 minutes when Fitzpatrick headed home through a crowd of players. Eccleshall looked to get back on terms and on 39 minutes, Liam Hallam hit the post with a decent effort. Just before the interval, Sandbach made strong appeals for a foul on the edge of the 18-yard box and stronger action against Joe Minshall, who made the tackle. Referee Abratanski turned them down.
HT: Eccleshall 0 Sandbach United 1
Eagles made a decent start to the second half and earned a corner after a shot by Dan Shelley was turned away. From this, Hallam turned on the edge of the six-yard box and fired past United keeper Sebastian Jensen on 47 minutes for the equaliser. Six minutes later, they went in front when good work by Kyle Diskin found Hallam in the box. He controlled the cross before firing past Jensen into the far corner. The good start to the half had fired up the Eagles and they were looking to get forward at every opportunity. Harry Payne, for the visitors, had a good chance but his effort was over the bar. On 63 minutes, Eagles scored again when a low Josh Waite cross into the box was knocked back and skipper Mitch Glover touched home the rebound. Seven minutes later, United were awarded a penalty after a foul by Minshall. Harry Cain’s spot kick beat the diving Woolrich and went in via the post. Payne wasted another good chance for the visitors before a Glover effort was just wide of the post. Ryan Malbon could have restored Eagles’ two goal lead when Hallam set him up, but his shot went into the turf and wide. On 78 minutes, the chance came for United to equalise when referee Abratanski awarded another penalty. However, this time, Stanley Tatters stepped up for the kick and Woolrich dived to his left to make the save. United continued to press and a Cain free kick was going for the top corner before Woolrich pulled off a brilliant save to tip the ball around the post. It looked as though Eagles were going to hang on to all three points until Cain was allowed too much space to run through the middle and his pass found Alley, who cut in and drove the ball across Woolrich and into the far corner on 90 minutes. The action wasn’t finished though as, in added time, Minshall went on a run from his own half. He played the ball forward and continued his run into the box for the return. United skipper Jordan Stafford and Jensen got in a bit of a tangle and as they tried to clear, the ball went in via Minshall’s knee to clinch the points for Eccleshall.
FT: Eccleshall 4 Sandbach United 3
For the neutral, this was a superb match and probably one of the best games at Pershall Park in a good while. Manager Kelly was elated that his team had now taken maximum points from two teams in the play-off positions in successive games, the result lifting them two places in the table. They are now looking to more of the same when they face a tricky away match at Stockport Georgians on Tuesday. They are up for the challenge based on this performance.
Eagles: Woolrich, Darlington, Woodroffe, Minshall, Groom, Warren, Diskin (Malbon), Shelley, Waite (Kapend), Hallam (Baggaley), Glover.
Unused subs: Tomlin, Ashworth.
Referee: Jakub Abratanski