Atherton LR v Eccleshall, NWCL First Division,Saturday 16th August 2014

So as the rich and much more bigger clubs of what is basically the tv owned and run Premiership with it’s mix of foreign owners,ridiculous kick off times,obscene wages for underachieving players and stupid ticket prices it was off to Step 7 of the football pyramid to the North West Counties League which was already three weeks into the 2014-15 season.

After a Monday night 4-0 drubbing down the road by local rivals Daisy Hill it was the visit from Eccleshall in Staffordshire, LR were second going into this afternoons game although bizarrely they had a goal difference of -1 whereas Eccleshall lay midtable albeit having only played two games compared to LR having played four.

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A 2-2 draw was the final result in what was a tight,tough and at sometimes quite a dirty encounter on the Costa del Crilly lawn.

The first half was cagey to begin but the visitors soon got their heads in front on Four minutes after a poor back pass from LR debutant Jamie Forbes let Eccleshall in on goal but a bad reach by goalie Marcus Burgess led to him being sent off by referee Conor Brown and with no substitute goalie on the bench it meant Thomas Halligan the right back going between the sticks but could not stop the penalty from James Gartside to make it 0-1.

With the advantage in their favour Eccleshall could not capitalise and LR slowly grew into themselves which was rewarded on Twenty three minutes when a silly tackle from the away sides number five Mark Mapperson led to him getting a red card and giving away a penalty that Jon Stephenson easily converted to make it 1-1.

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After the half time break we had a second half which was very eventful and full of hard tackles,many expletives amongst the players and a few fans who had various opinions of what was going on as the match progressed!

Eccleshall after much hard work took the lead on Fifty eight minutes as Matt Louns-Johnson struck a beautiful shot from around Thirty five yards out which the keeper could not stop even he had been born an Octopus!

After that the game picked up a bit more, Eccleshall’s number eight Ryan Greene was very vocal throughout and looks a more than useful midfielder,the sort of player who galvanises a team when they need a kick up the backside but he is also from what I saw a bit temperamental and got booked after a nasty challenge on an LR player,in fairness he should have been grateful to get a yellow as it looked a lot harder than the first sending off for the LR keeper.

LR never gave up despite being on the receiving end of some tough tackles from the away side who apart from playing in what looked like a rejected Stoke City kit seemed to have taken influence from them under the Tony Pulis days, LR to be fair were no pushovers and were rewarded for their persistence and hard work when Ashley Farlow went round Eccleshall keeper Chris Middleton-Hill on the Sixty fifth minute.

After that both teams seemed content for the draw, Eccleshall did try to get a winner, winger Jordan Flattley tried to dance around the opposition a few times but he didn’t have the time of his life.

Eccleshall nearly won with the last kick of the game but some good defending just kept the honours even.

Full time Atherton LR 2 Eccleshall 2

Att 60

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So an intriguing encounter, This was a bruising counter for both clubs and the draw was about fair.

Neither team could really get the better of the other but it’s early days of the season and it will be very interesting to keep an eye on what happens.

Atherton LR

Burgess,Halligan,Thomas,Booth,Darby (C),Forbes,Farlow,Melling,Stephenson,Adams,Burke.

Subs Duckworth,McNair,Hatton,Berry,Boothby.

Eccleshall

Middleton-Hill,Elkin,Counter,Warren,Mapperson,Spooner,Flattley,Greene,King,Llouns-Johnson,Gartside

Subs Lee,Cooper,Burrows,Ratcliffe.

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