Pilkington FC 1-3 Steeton FC
Macron Cup 1st Round, 19th October 2019

Pilks inconsistency was once again exposed as they went down 1-3 to a strong Steeton side. With skipper Luke Sephton and striker Matty Taylor both absent through illness and injury respectively Pilks were a little toothless upfront despite the ever enterprising Callum Laird who snatched a 93rd minute consolation goal.

Early half chances for Pilks came via Phil Marsh and Ben Maddocks both resulting from Nathan Moore rampaging down the right hand side. Laird troubled the Steeton defence early on but it was Steeton’s No 5. Tom Leach who opened the scoring on 18 mins. He rose to head for goal from a corner only for Pilks keeper McLoughlin to deny him with a superb save. The ball was not cleared however and Leach remained in the box to head home from on his second attempt, the Pilks defence clearly not learning their lesson.

2 mins later Steeton doubled their lead when they countered after Pilks lost possession high up the pitch, keeper McLoughlin making a brave attempt to save the header but couldn’t hold on to the ball and either one of two advancing Steeton strikers could have claimed that second goal.

Pilks were on the back foot and Steeton pressed for further advantage. Deklan Hill had two further half chances for Pilks on 25 and 27 mins, his header and shot both going wide.

Pilks keeper McLoughlin prevented further damage when he tipped a shot onto his post on the half hour.

Nathan Moore continued to threaten down the right hand side and on 38 mins was upended just outside the Steeton box, Jake Boyd expecting and getting a yellow card for his challenge. Disappointingly, the free kick was delivered into the keepers hands.

On 42 mins Pilks had a good chance via Callum Laird who shook off a few defenders only to chip the ball over the keeper and the bar. Two more half chances fell to Pilks in added time but these came to nothing.

The first chance of the second half went to Pilks (47mins) when a Deklan Hill shot went well wide.

Steeton however continued to press and on 58 mins a long ball was flicked on into the path of the very lively Tawonga, who raced through and slid the ball under the advancing keeper for 0-3.

Pilks Jack Cunliffe was treading a tight rope after having already been booked when he committed to a challenge that another ref might have seen differently. Both teams made changes, Steeton to consolidate and Pilks to try to salvage something from the tie.

Things went from bad to worse however when on 77 mins Tawonga was inadvertently tripped in the box by Paul Meadows, Tawonga took the penalty kick himself but was twice denied by a magnificent double save from McLoughlin.

Pilks debutant midfielder Paul Cliff entered the fray on 83 mins to bring some impetus to the final push for goals, having one half chance in the process.

On 90+3 mins Callum Laird got reward for his efforts heading his effort past the Steeton keeper, the referee overruling his linesman to award the goal.

Pilks huffed and puffed the whole game but lacked a cutting edge and defensive steel in front of both goals.