Saturday 10 October 2020. Kick off 3pm.
Ashton Town 1 Pilkington FC 3
North West Counties Football League First Division North
Back to Winning Ways
By Callum McCarthy
Pilkington FC returned to winning ways at Ashton Town on Saturday and continued their unbeaten league run. A short journey meant the lads were right up for it in this ‘Wigan v St Helens’ derby.
Straight from kick off Pilks looked to be on the front foot as early chances fell to Phil Marsh and Callum Laird, but neither could convert in the first few minutes.
However, that was about to change in only the 7th minute when a Pilks’ free kick was mishandled by Ben Purdham in the Ashton goal and Callum Laird was alert and the quickest to react inside the six yard box as he banged the ball into the roof of the net.
Pilks started to assert themselves in midfield with Ben Maddocks and Marcus Giglio in particular stamping their authority on the game. Chances followed for Laird after a magnificent through ball from Giglio in the 15th minute, Adam Gilchrist and then Luke Sephton but, other than winning a couple of corners, none were able to further trouble Purdham’s goal.
Notwithstanding Pilks’ control of the ball, at 1-0 there was always a risk of letting Ashton back into the game and so it proved when, in the 27th minute, a long ball from defence troubled the Pilks’ back four who failed to clear and indecision on the edge of the six yard box allowed Khius Metz to steal in and finish past Pilks ‘keeper Tom Scott.
Pilks were further reminded of the home side’s threat in the 36th minute as Giglio lost out in a 50/50 challenge from a throw-in which led to Ashton’s Christopher Hill having time to fire a shot from the edge of the box but, fortunately for Pilks, this went just wide of Scott’s right hand upright.
A minute later, a cute free kick from Marsh found Adam Howard, whose left foot shot from 12 yards out was pushed around the post by Purdham for another corner to the visitors.
After pushing Ashton’s buttons, Pilks finally regained the lead in the 42nd minute as a perfectly weighted free kick from Giglio into the danger area was met by Sephton under pressure from Hill, but the skipper’s header despite a slight deflection had sufficient power to drop in to the far corner of the goal to make it 2-1 to Pilks.
Going into half time, Pilks felt happy with their shift as Marus Giglio shouted, “We’ll take that uphill boys, well in!”
Without the need for any half-time substitutions, Pilks started the second half brightly and an early chance came in the 47th minute as Howard turned and found Laird inside the box, but his flick didn’t trouble Purdham.
Just two minutes later, Pilks were creating chances again as Saul Guffogg’s overlap down the right was followed by chances for both Sephton and Laird who both drew saves in rapid succession from Purdham, before Gilchrist’s goal line tap-in was disallowed for offside.
In the 61st minute an Ashton corner was headed clear by Gilchrist and picked up by Marsh who travelled over the halfway line and released Laird. Despite the ball bobbling behind him, Laird won the resulting 50/50 slide tackle challenge with Erion Bujupi 25 yards from goal and took the ball into the box before lifting the ball with a right foot chip over the advancing Burdham, but sadly over the bar too.
The 65th minute saw Laird involved again as he brought a high ball down inside the box, turned past defender Junior Dos Santos on the penalty spot and under pressure fired a right foot shot past Burdham, which agonisingly went just wide of the ‘keeper’s left upright.
67 minutes in, and Pilks’ manager Dave Tickle decided it was time for a change as Danny Greene replaced Phil Marsh.
Four minutes later and another chance went begging for Pilks as Gilchrist was played in by Giglio, but the Pilks’ forward’s right foot shot was again stopped by Purdham.
Greene was soon involved down the right hand side, linking up well with Guffogg and Laird on several occasions. Following a good run by Gilchrist and Howard on the other side of the pitch in the 73rd minute, Greene had a great opportunity to put the game beyond Ashton’s reach when the ball broke to him six yards out after yet another stop by Purdham, but this time it was the turn of defender Thomas Parry to deny Greene with a goal line block.
In the 77th minute Pilks ‘keeper Tom Scott found himself in the referee’s notebook after racing 40 yards out of his goal and catching one of the Ashton substitute forwards with a late callenge.
Although the game should have been over well before, Pilks eventually put it to bed in the 79th minute as a free kick allowed Laird to pull wide to the left before playing it square across the penalty area for Greene to put away, making up for his earlier attempt.
Dave Tickle took the opportunity to replace Guffogg with Mason Ryan and Ryan wasted no time in getting involved up and down the Pilks’ right flank.
In the closing minutes, further chances fell to Sephton, Gilchrist and Ryan but somehow the ball stayed out of the Ashton net and Pilks were unable to extend their lead any further.
At the final whistle Pilks were very pleased that they had kept their unbeaten league run going at the top of the table with seven points out of a possible nine and we now keep our fingers crossed that any new lockdown restrictions do not affect our ability to keep playing.
At the time of writing, we are due to play new club Bury AFC on Wednesday 14th October at Ruskin Drive.
Assistant manager Lee Jenkinson summed up the current positive mood in the Pilks camp at the end when he said, “We go to win every game.”
Starting lineup: 1-Tom Scott, 2-Saul Guffogg (14-Mason Ryan 80’), 3-Adam Howard, 4-Marcus Giglio, 5-Antony Shinks, 6-Ben Maddocks, 7-Dom Whelan, 8-Phil Marsh (15-Danny Greene 67’), 9-Callum Laird, 10-Luke Sephton (capt), 11-Adam Gilchrist
Unused substitute: 12-Wade Rutherford
Pilks’ Man of the Match – shared : 6-Ben Maddocks, 4-Marcus Giglio