Norton United 2 Silsden 0
by Jim Rosser
Following a heavy defeat at the hands of Runcorn Town a week ago, the Cobbydalers faced the daunting task of facing promotion favourites Norton United at the Autonet Stadium.
The Potteries’ outfit boast the second meanest defence in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League and had won 15 of their last 16 games.
Silsden are one of only five teams to have beaten them in the league this season.
Despite thunder and lightning on Friday in Staffordshire, the pitch was dry and the bounce was high, a factor which kept the Cobbydalers in the game when dipping volleys bounced on to the Silsden cross bar on two occasions.
On their last visit to Norton, the Cobbydalers were two down after only three minutes and it was almost deja-vu this time around.
In the second minute Lee Cropper chased a long ball down the left. Ed Hall rushed out of his area to clear but Cropper won the chase, his dipping volley bouncing up on to the Silsden bar and clear.
Silsden were pushed back but weren’t troubled, Jon Beaumont’s long-range effort being held comfortably by Hall.
Hall was then out of his area again, this time firing the ball at one of his retreating defenders. Fortunately, when the ball was pushed forward, one of the Norton strikers had strayed offside.
It was 20 minutes into the game before Silsden broke forward. Owen Deakin-Pickard headed the ball to Zack Dale, who twisted and put in a decent cross shot. A minute later Ben Lamb tripped Leigh Skellern in the box and Tom Fogg slotted home the spot kick.
The woodwork then came to the rescue of the home side when Andy Hill’s superb 25-yard free-kick struck the bar with keeper Dan Roberts rooted to his line. Three minutes later Cropper ran on to a ball over the Silsden back four. His effort rebounded off the woodwork and to safety.
Silsden’s back four were caught out three more times by well timed runs from midfield. Chris Baker had the best chance but he dragged his shot across the face of goal.
Silsden finally tested the home keeper when Dale managed to get in a low cross to the near post. Anthony Lynch flicked it goalwards but Roberts managed to get a firm hand on it. Ben Crabtree, following up, stumbled in the attempt to push it home.
In the final minute of the half Dale put in another cross from the right. It was overhit but Lynch managed to retrieve it and cut in along the line. Roberts saved at the feet of Nicky McNally at the near post.
The second half started as the first had done. Lamb was turned inside out by Chris Baker who curled a left-footer round Hall but the ball struck the far post. Danny Fagan then rescued the ball after skipper Danny Gleave had been deceived by the bounce.
Silsden’s efforts to create any openings were thwarted in midfield and McNally was isolated in the attack and starved of the ball.
Norton continued to race on to a regular supply of through balls, Skellern won the chase for one but shot wide then Cropper notched the second goal from a cross, even though the ball trickled over the line off his shins.
Lynch then cleared Cropper’s snap shot off the line and Baker sliced a shot over. Hall again ran out of his area to clear but again he was beaten by Cropper who crossed to Skellern. The goal was wide open but Norton’s leading scorer dragged his shot wide from 25 yards out.
Will Storrie came on for Hill and Kristian Hargreaves for Lamb. Hargreaves did see an effort scrambled off the line following a goal-mouth melee, but if truth be told, it wasn’t one of Silsden’s better performances.
Norton United 2 Silsden 0