Vickerstown would have come to this game full of positives as last time out they beat Hesketh Bank 1-0 back in February and their last visit to Station Road saw them go home with 3 points in a 0-6 win in September 2014. Hesketh Bank, who have recently improved their form on the pitch which saw them beat Coppull United 0-2 last weekend in a game they went into as underdogs. Pitch as always in fantastic condition following all the hard work put in by groundsman John Fewtrell during the week and all the volunteers who helped on Saturday morning. And with the weather forecast being rain for the afternoon, 32 spectators still came to watch their local team at Station Road.
Only 2 changes made by manager James Smith with Joe Griffith returning in goal which saw last weeks clean sheet hero Sean Turton drop back down into the Reserves. An unchanged back four of Ivanov, Kirk, Thompson and Dickinson who all kept their places after a solid performance last Saturday against one of the leagues strongest sides. One change in midfield as Rick Wilson, unavailable due to a holiday, was replaced in midfield by skipper Dan Birkby who returned to the starting line up after coming off the bench last weekend. The Brierley brother, Jack and Josh both kept their places for this weekends showdown after a solid 90 minutes against Coppull and Burns partnered David Hogg upfront leaving the returning 3 of Josh Roberts, Bob Milton and Chris Nation on the bench.
The game started in full pace for both teams and Vickerstown had the first chance of the game but their striker's poor timed volleyed sailed way wide of Griffiths goal. The deadlock was broken by the home team as David Hogg forced a corner which was delightfully delivered by Jack Brierley onto the head of Birkby in the box who powered a header past the efforts of the Vickerstown 'keeper to score his first goal since October and make it 141 goals for the club. 0-1 nearly became 2 as another corner from Brierley wasn't dealt with and Burns rattled the bar from close range.
The rain forecasted then started to really pour down and the play of passing game really wasn't something both teams could do as the ball was skidding away from players and off the pitch.
Vickerstown equalised with less than 7 minutes of the first half left as their left winger was allowed to dribble into the box before pulling the ball back. Thompson who rather than smacking the ball away from goal hit it against the shin of the Town striker and the ball ricochet into the goal. A really poor goal to concede really but Adam Thompson redeemed himself just 4 minutes later when he headed a Kevin Cox corner into the roof of the net to put his team back in the lead. Griffith was then called into action as he had to parry away a strong effort from the Vickerstown number 8 on the stroke of halftime. With pouring rain that got worse through the 15 minute interval wasn't really ideal and the pitch was really damp and if possibly same weather carries on through Sunday afternoon then we should expect Monday's visit of Slyne-with-Hest to be postponed. The visitors felt like they were hard done by the linesmans flag as a inch perfect delivery was headed past Griffith into the Hesketh goal but was denied following an offside from the cross. Vickerstown then had another chance as their right winger burst dangerously into the box only to be denied by Hesketh's left-back Dickinson who was having a very impressive afternoon. Birkby was then denied in the area by a block from the visitors defender before Burns crossed for Hogg who couldn't get above the defender. Ivanov was then replaced by Bob Milton to try and push for a 3rd goal in a move that saw Kevin Cox drop back into the right-back position. Milton had a good chance to put Hesketh 3-1 up but he fired narrowly over after a Birkby lay off.
To protect the lead and hold out for the 3 points, Smith decided to take off Josh Brierley who was already on a booking and replace him with Josh Roberts in the centre of midfield and also put on Chris Nation for David Hogg for the last 25 minutes. Vickerstown had 2 good chances to equalise firstly when Thompson went flying into a tackle and completely missed the man who then crossed it into the box only to see his delivery come of the fingers of Griffith and out for a corner with a striker diving in at the back post to possibly put it in the net had the ball got to him. The second was when Kirk allowed the forward to get through on goal who was then denied by the oncoming Griffith who then was caught by the knee of Adam Thompson right on the temple. And at first looking really worrying whether he'd be able to carry on and with all 3 subs already made the sub 'keeper Wiktor Pamfil would possibly have to give his kit and gloves to one of the outfield players, thankfully Griffith got up following treatment by physio Morgan Dodgson and Hesketh Bank were able to complete the game with 11 men. One last chance of the game fell to Brierley and his cross was punched away to safety by the goalkeeper and Hesketh held on for a much needed 3 points to stay 10th in the table as Monday visitors Slyne beat title challengers Charnock Richard 4-2.
TEAM; Griffith; Ivanov(Milton 56), Kirk, Thompson, Dickinson; Cox, Birkby(c), Josh Brierley(Roberts 65), Jack Brierley; Hogg(Nation 65), Burns. Subs (NOT Used): Pamfil.
GOALS: Birkby 15', Thompson 42'.
Next game is on Easter Monday against Slyne-with-Hest and that's a 3pm kick-off.