TWO GOALS IN THREE MINUTES SINK SKEM
SKELMERSDALE UNITED 1 NEWCASTLE TOWN 3
By Neil Leatherbarrow
Skelmersdale United matched the visitors from Staffordshire for most of the game at The Community Ground and had as many chances but a slow start to the second-half left them sunk in a close encounter, goals in 46 & 48 minutes both from corners and both from headers the difference between the sides.
Richard Brodie brought new signing Sam Turner into the team in the number eleven role on the left but were without the experienced Ken Strickland who jumped ship and followed former manager Paul McNally to City of Liverpool last week.
It was a scrappy beginning to the game but Skelmersdale were having the better of it, after six minutes Turner had a shot saved by Newcastle goalkeeper Joe Slinn and a couple of minutes later Elliott Morris put a free-kick just wide of the upright.
Newcastle made their first threat with a cross from the left by Nathan Morley that fizzed to safety across the face of goal on twenty minutes.
It was a bit of a bad tempered match and on 28 minutes referee Jacob Graham reached for the first of six yellow cards on the day when cautioning Newcastle’s Michael Conlon for a cynical foul on Morris.
Newcastle did have a five minute period of pressure around the 35 minute mark when they went close four times in quick succession but Skem weathered the storm, James Askey having a header helped over the bar by Skem goalkeeper Ben Barnes who made a great double save from Callum Parker soon afterwards with the best of the spell.
Matters stabilised from a Skelmersdale perspective until the interval.
The second half couldn’t have started worse for Skem, from serious hope when they left the dressing room they were distinct outsiders inside a few minutes.
Seconds gone and Morris was played into a one on one with Newcastle keeper Slinn, just as he pulled his leg back to strike, Conlon swept in, Morris went down amid loud appeals for a penalty, none was given, much to the chagrin of the home supporters and arguably it broke Skem’s concentration.
It was a doubly crucial decision because Newcastle immediately won a corner on the left and it was driven into the near post, Luke Dennis stooping to head home.
Moments later another ball in from the left into the heart of a crowded six yard box, due to the bodies keeper Barnes couldn’t get near the ball to the ball and Askey headed home, it was 2-0 to Newcastle, but could so easily have been 1-0 to Skelmersdale.
It took Skem a while to recover and on the hour Karl Clair hit a thunderous one that Slinn saved and then thwarted the rebound too. Four minutes later substitute Declan McLaughlin was desperately unlucky to not at least celebrate his United debut with a goal when his rocket shot crashed against the crossbar and keeper Slinn had had no chance with that one.
Twelve minutes from the end Barnes arguably should have done better, another cross and his punch dropped to the right of the penalty area, from where Jacob Lovatt put the game out of Skem’s reach.
To their credit Skelmersdale continued to attack and got a reward of sorts when Max McCarthy got his second goal in his two games since joining Skem late on to reduce the margin to 3-1, but the destination of the three points had been decided a quarter hour before then.
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Barnes ©, Warren (Lees, 61), Hont, Herbert, Grogan, Devine, Morris, Sheen (McLoughlin, 53), McCarthy, Clair, Turner Subs Hamilton, Djalo, Brannigan
NEWCASTLE TOWN: Slinn, Conlon, Ritchie, Vale, Askey ©, Dennis, Parker, Lloyd, Lovatt, Van Der Laan, Morley Subs Hunter, Torjussen, Smith, Hurst
REFEREE: Jacob Graham