IRLAM FC travelled to third placed Bootle FC on Tuesday night, picking up a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw at the TDP Solicitors Stadium.
The point keeps Bootle in 3rd spot, with Irlam also unchanged in 11th position in the Hallmark Premier Division.
A lively start from IRLAM saw early possession and chances missed as the home side struggled early on, although the counter attack was certainly something to guard against with Bootle's quick forward line.
An early driving run and cross from Marcus Perry was just too far for a stretching Illidge, Perry giving notice to the Bootle defence of his speed down the flank this evening. Gareth Mooney was next up, driving at the Bootle defence before finally being thwarted as he made his way towards goal.
The first big chance fell to Irlam, and when Perry stung the gloves of the home keeper Boland was on hand to follow up but the Irlam forward snatched at the chance as the game awaited its first goal.
Irlam midfielder Illidge tried his luck from 30 yards, the shot on target but dealt with, but it was to be at the other end of the pitch where the first goal would come from.
Jonathon Swatton’s drilled pass found Lennon Whewell who held the ball up before finding Bootle captain Loughlin whose right-footed effort took a deflection before finding the bottom corner of the net.
Irlam responded immediately, a Mooney strike was just turned around the post by the Bootle keeper for a corner, Irlam skipper Steve Mills on hand to head onto the underside of the Bootle bar and away to safety.
Irlam were to be dealt another blow soon after when the home side doubled their lead. Jones swung in a free-kick from the right which was headed home by Bootle's Cox at the near post to give the home side a strong scoreline as the teams went in at the break.
Irlam were first out of the blocks in the second period, the home side again starting slowly, but this time the results would prove more positive, and when full back Macaulay Harewood drove down the right side, his cross/shot looped over the keeper and in to the Bootle net to halve the deficit.
Ten minutes later and Irlam would draw level, a neat passage of play led to Illidge playing in Icely, the Irlam striker springing the offside trap to coolly slot in the equaliser to give the game the feeling of a Cup tie more than a league game.
And on sixty-seven minutes Irlam completed the turn around, Matty Boland’s initial free-kick deflected off the Bootle wall before falling to Illidge who turned and fired into the bottom corner to turn the game on its head as Irlam led 3-2.
A great driving run and shot from Mooney was saved as Irlam looked to secure all three points, but the home side had other ideas, and with ten minutes remaining Bootle player Millington’s effort from the edge of the box was only parried by White, with substitute Howell on hand to bundle the ball home from close-range to make it 3-3
Irlam's Illidge would be harshly sent off in the closing stages, a challenge on a Bootle player resulting in a second caution would set nerves jangling as the home side dominated the closing stages. with plenty of home support behind them.
As Irlam dug in, and the clock running down, the final whistle would provide a point apiece for both sides, a result that neither Club could be unhappy with.
Updated 20:39 - 20 Sep 2017 by warren dodd