Irlam kickstarted their FA Cup campaign spectacularly at Silver Street yesterday; a 4-0 victory over fellow NWCFL Prem opponents Ashton Athletic seeing them through to the next round, where they will travel to higher league opposition in Sheffield-based Stocksbridge Park Steels.
Irlam started the game on the front foot and began building pressure on the Ashton backline; a chance fell to Jordan Icely who could only skew his shot wide from 8 yards, whilst Jordan Southworth just couldn’t find the final product to back up his brilliant running on the break.
When the first goal did come it was through a set piece; Dylan Allan-Meredith’s superb delivery headed home by skipper Ryan Ledson to make it 1-0.
Soon after Irlam had to make an enforced change; Icely struggling with a knock and being replaced by George Farrelly.
The goal sparked Ashton into life and Nicholson and Bandell in particular now looked really lively for the away side. Nicholson chopping inside from the left before clipping the outside of the post with a swerving strike. Irlam managed to regroup and go in at the break with the 1-0 lead still in tact.
Irlam quickly took back control in the second half and when Pollitt found Buckley in the area, the Irlam frontman twisted and turned before being brought down in the box; the referee pointing to the spot. Karl Cassell stepped up to smash home superbly and make it 2-0 to Irlam.
Soon after it was 3-0! Buckley finding Southworth who cut back for Callum Nicholas, the ball just evaded the Irlam midfielder, but ran through to Farrelly who made no mistake, stroking home at the back post to give Irlam a real foothold and also get himself off the mark for the first team.
Ashton never gave up to and centre half Defreitas-Hansen’s header forced a save from Lee White, before the Irlam goalkeeper made a brilliant close range stop with his feet to keep the clean sheet in tact. Irlam concentrated to regain their shape and get a foothold again; Danny Eyres was disciplined in midfield and Sam Bolton was defending with real focus in the full back areas to protect our lead.
However, Buckley was a constant threat all day and when he manoeuvred half a yard in the box, he buried a finish into the bottom corner to make it 4-0 and cue celebrations around the Ambitek Stadium. Irlam created 2 or 3 more opportunities as the game came to its conclusion, but no further inroads on the scoreline were made.
A 4-0 scoreline signalling a great day for the club and continues the first team’s good start to the season. Thank you to all the fans who supported the club on the day, it was great to see so many new and familiar faces at the ground.
The first team now travel to Burscough on Saturday, before heading to Barnton on Tuesday night to face 1874 Northwich at their new home. The next round of the FA Cup is on Saturday 24th August.