In the first of four big games to finish their North West Counties campaign; Irlam’s first team recorded an important 1-0 win over visitors 1874 Northwich on Saturday; returning some good feeling and momentum to the Ambitek Stadium side.
The game opened with 1874 trying to impose their traditional passing patterns on the game; Irlam very much playing on the counter attack but looking very dangerous in doing so. The opening goal came on 25 minutes as Ryan Ledson’s pass from the back found Jordan Buckley on the move, the Irlam forward taking a touch out of his feet before planting a powerful drive past Aghayere from 25 yards to make it 1-0.
Two more big chances followed; the first came as Charlie Doyle broke into the box before seeing his shot snuffed out by Aghayere. Next up Matty Boland met the ball on the edge of the area to force another save from the 1874 goalkeeper.
1874 grew back into the fixture before half-time. Koral flashed a shot just over the crossbar before Andre Stewart was forced into some last ditch defending as 1874’s Kennerley looked increasingly dangerous down the left hand side. Gardner had a chance at the back post but just couldn’t stretch enough to make decent contact and the score remained 1-0 at half time.
The second half continued in very much the same vein. 1874 now began to really control the possession maybe more-so than in the first half, but couldn’t find a way through a solid Irlam rearguard featuring Sam Bolton on his long-awaited comeback from injury and eventual MOM Karl Cassell. Northwich’s Sam Hind was pushing forward to try and force the issue but Irlam’s Liam Pollitt was equal to the task and looked threatening and powerful going back the other way.
Irlam continued to break well, mainly through Marcus Perry who now began to find his feet and really test the away side’s resolve. However Irlam’s best chance came from a corner, Liam Morrison’s delivery met with great contact by Ryan Ledson who could only watch as Aghayere pulled off another great save to keep the game in the balance.
We then headed into the last 5 minutes and 1874 began to throw the ‘kitchen sink’ at Irlam. Andre Stewart defending a whipped in ball superbly to clear off the line and prevent former Irlam man Jake Parker from tapping in. In the same move the ball dropped to Northwich midfielder Mark Jones who hit a volley destined for the top corner, before Irlam goalkeeper Lee White provided probably the moment of the game to somehow claw the ball away and over the bar; an outstanding save to secure the clean sheet and earn Irlam all 3 points.
The result sets us on our way into the Easter Weekend fixtures. Starting away at Congleton on Saturday before travelling to Witton Albion on Monday afteroon to face FA Vase semi-finalists Northwich Victoria.
Irlam: White, Stewart, Bolton, Doyle, Ledson, Cassell, Perry, Morrison, Buckley, Boland (Farrelly), Pollitt.
Subs not used: Griffiths, Foulds.