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First Team North West Counties - Match centre

Congleton Town
S Foster (40'), B Hasler-Cregg (30'), D Cope (10')
Full time
Mon 27 Aug 15:00 - Hallmark Security North West Counties Football League - Premier Division Attendance 165

Bears make history with Bootle win

Congleton Town made history on Bank Holiday Monday as a 3-0 victory over Bootle extended their winning start to the season to six games, their best ever start to a season in the club’s 117-year history.

Not only did first-half goals from Dan Cope, Billy Hasler-Cregg and Steve Foster maintain Congleton’s 100 per cent record, but a resolute defensive display and a stunning save from Craig Ellison late in the match secured the Bears their sixth successive clean sheet.

Less than 48 hours after booking their place in the next round of the FA Cup, the Bears were back in action; although an hour later than originally planned. The match kicked-off at 4pm after Bootle’s arrival at the Cheshire Silk 106.9 Stadium was delayed by lane closures on the M6.

Despite the delayed start to the match, there was a real intensity to the first-half as Congleton raced into the lead after 10 minutes. A neat flick by Steve Foster in the box found Dan Cope, who made no mistake volleying the ball into the bottom right corner to score his first goal since joining from Hanley Town in the summer.

Five minutes later, Cope nearly added a second, but the striker saw his shot hit the foot of the post after he was played in by Hasler-Cregg. Cope had another chance in the 22nd minute, but the striker couldn’t keep his shot down as he stretched to reach Foster’s square ball.

Dean Warburton produced another industrious performance in midfield alongside captain Anthony Griffith. Warburton showed great control to create space for himself on the edge of the area in the 24th minute, but his shot was comfortable for Bootle goalkeeper Ryan Jones.

The Bears worked hard to press Bootle high up the pitch; hassling their opponents and not allowing the visitors to settle on the ball. This proved to be effective with Congleton limiting Bootle to only a few chances in the opening 45 minutes.

The closest the visitors came in the first-half was when Johnny Foy shot just over the bar from Lee McConchie’s cross from the right.

Congleton doubled their lead in the 30th minute when a goal of the season contender from Billy Hasler-Cregg provided a welcome two-goal cushion for Congleton.

Hasler-Cregg did brilliantly to control Warburton’s ball from across the other side of the pitch, before the winger drove into the Bootle box. With his back to goal, the Bears winger showed great skill to turn around the defender, before shooting from a tight angle.

Hasler-Cregg’s shot struck the inside of the post, before bouncing down into the other side of the net to double the Bears’ lead.

Warburton went close for Congleton from two free-kicks. His first effort needed a superb fingertip save from Jones to tip the ball onto the cross bar and out for a corner, while his second, in an almost identical position, went just over.

The second free-kick came just after Steve Foster put the Bears into a commanding position heading into the second-half. An inch-perfect cross from Cope on the left found Foster unmarked in the centre of the box. Still with the goalkeeper to beat, Foster steered the ball beyond the reach of Jones and into the back of the net to score what was the Bears’ 800th home league goal.

The second-half never managed to rediscover the same intensity of the first-half, with neither side managing to create a clear-cut chance in the second period of 45 minutes.

Hasler-Cregg fired wide from 30 yards, while substitute John Main forced Jones into two saves. The first was a comfortable save for Jones from a shot from outside the box. The second saw Jones having to stretch to claim Main’s curling shot.

With the Bears looking comfortable and leading 3-0, the hosts’ main priority was to preserve their three-goal lead and secure a sixth successive clean sheet.

Bootle came within inches of becoming the first team to beat Craig Ellison this season when Antony Hickey’s ball went across the goalmouth. Substitute Andrew Gillespie tried to catch Ellison out after spotting the Bears’ goalkeeper off his line, but the striker’s shot went over the bar.

No doubt eager to preserve his clean sheet record, Ellison produced a superb fingertip save to tip Gillespie’s shot over the bar with three minutes to go. Ellison’s brilliant save ensured the Bears made it six clean sheets from the opening six games.

For the first time in the club’s 117-year history, Congleton have won their opening six games. The Bears will be looking to extend their record even further when Bootle return to the Cheshire Silk 106.9 Stadium on Saturday when the two sides meet in the FA Vase First Round Qualifying.

Bears XI: Ellison, Williams, Peters, Ryder, Jamieson, Griffith (McIntosh-Buffonge 77’), Hasler-Cregg, Warburton, Cope (Taylor 79’), Foster (Main 62’), Burey

Subs not used: Hibbert, Moran

Attendance: 165

Speaking after the match, manager Brian Pritchard said: “It was another good professional performance and another clean sheet. We dug in when we had to against a really good passing team and managed the game well.
“We've started the season well and need to keep getting points on the board from league games with lots of cup games coming up. We've had a number of players away today and the players who have come in have done a really good job.

“Hopefully, our recent results will encourage more Congleton people to come down and support us.”

Train with the Best - Win a training session with the England 6-a-side squad

Key moments

Goal Dan Cope scores for Congleton Town
Goal Billy Hasler-Cregg scores for Congleton Town
Goal Steve Foster scores for Congleton Town


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79:00 Sub Off
Dan Cope is substituted off for Congleton Town
79:00 Sub On
Luke Taylor is substituted on for Congleton Town
77:00 Sub Off
Anthony Griffith is substituted off for Congleton Town
77:00 Sub On
Dajour McIntosh-Buffonge is substituted on for Congleton Town
65:00 Yellow Card
Anthony Griffith is yellow carded for Congleton Town
62:00 Sub On
John Main is substituted on for Congleton Town
62:00 Sub Off
Steve Foster is substituted off for Congleton Town
End of period 1
40:00 Goal 3 - 0
Steve Foster scores for Congleton Town
30:00 Goal 2 - 0
Billy Hasler-Cregg scores for Congleton Town
28:00 Yellow Card
Steve Foster is yellow carded for Congleton Town
10:00 Goal 1 - 0
Dan Cope scores for Congleton Town
Start of the game
Replay game

As it happened

  • Congleton Town
  • Bootle
  • 0
  • Dan Cope Goal 10:00'
  • Steve Foster Yellow Card 28:00'
  • Billy Hasler-Cregg Goal 30:00'
  • Steve Foster Goal 40:00'
  • John Main Sub On 62:00'
  • Steve Foster Sub Off 62:00'
  • Anthony Griffith Yellow Card 65:00'
  • Anthony Griffith Sub Off 77:00'
  • Dajour McIntosh-Buffonge Sub On 77:00'
  • Luke Taylor Sub On 79:00'
  • Dan Cope Sub Off 79:00'

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Team selection

Ellison, Craig Ellison, Craig
Williams, Dominik Williams, Dominik
Jamieson, Matthew Jamieson, Matthew
Burey, Bevan Burey, Bevan
Ryder, Joshua Ryder, Joshua
Peters, Rick Peters, Rick
Hasler-Cregg, Billy Hasler-Cregg, Billy
Warburton, Dean Warburton, Dean
Cope, Dan Cope, Dan
Foster, Steve Foster, Steve
Griffith, Anthony Griffith, Anthony

League round up

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. City of Liverpool 18 45
2. Congleton Town 17 39
3. Runcorn Town 18 33
4. Barnoldswick Town 17 32
5. Bootle 18 31
6. Silsden 20 31
7. Northwich Victoria 16 29

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