Winford United 2
by Jim Rosser at the Barton Stadium
Silsden travelled to Winsford for the final game of the North West Counties League season with an even younger team than that which had forced a draw against St Helens Town in midweek.
Declan Consoli came in at right back, Josh Metcalfe played wide on the right with 16-year-old Aiden Smith in midfield and joint-manager Ryan Haigh once again leading the attack.
Craig Nicholls was back from injury but, although Aaron Hollindrake travelled with the team, he was unable to take any part in the game.
The experienced Kevin Ryan was unavailable.
Winsford, who stood two places below the Cobbydalers in the table at the start of play, had won their penultimate league game in midweek, beating Maine Road 6-2.
The Cobbydalers almost took the lead in the opening minutes when Josh Brown went close with a header.
Ten minutes into the game United had two chances in the Silsden box but Silsden’s defence stood firm.
A few minutes later the home side had a let off when Ryan Eiselt sliced Matty Moses’ cross into the grateful arms of his keeper, Connor O’Keefe.
A superb tackle by Consoli broke up an attack down the left but when Lamb was caught out at the back post, Brown and Moses managed to block close-range efforts.
Silsden’s attacks were spasmodic, Metcalfe was inches away from making contact with Joe Mitchell’s cross.
The Cobbydalers were pushed back. Alex Byrne and James Rothwell combined down the left but Moses headed off the line after Danny Egan had won the ball in the air.
A superb cross from Matt Tierney caused problems in the Silsden goalmouth.
Two Winsford forwards saw shots blocked before Thorpe made an excellent save at close range, anticipating Ben Matthews shot.
A long ball was spilled by O’Keefe and Haigh almost managed to snatch the opening goal.
The more experienced Winsford team continued to attack.
A crunching tackle from Brown halted Tierney and then Egan headed wide.
When Matthews broke clear on the halfway line, Lamb managed to push him wide.
Matthews, who had three team-mates in support, chose to try to cut back on Lamb but the Silsden defender was able to clear.
Craig Nicholls, who was tightly marked throughout, managed to beat two defenders in a break down the right.
His cross was cleared up field by Alex Byrne.
More excellent defending from Moses and Brown meant the teams went in all square at the break.
Silsden went close at the start of the second half when Nicholls sent Mitchell free.
His effort was saved by O’Keefe.
United’s Eli Mitchell then curled an effort wide but Egan and Byrne both wasted possession shooting from too far out.
Silsden’s best move came after 60 minutes. Haigh laid the ball into the path of Nicholls who sped up the right.
Metcalfe ran inside and after receiving the ball cut inside Ben Seol before sliding the ball back to Nicholls who hit a rasping drive, which O’Keefe tipped over the bar.
From almost taking the lead, a minute later Silsden fell behind, when a poor clearance by Thorpe fell to Marshall who drove the ball across from the right. Leading scorer Egan drifted to the back post to head home after 61 minutes.
Silsden responded immediately with the tenacious Mitchell beating three men before shooting wide.
Winsford counter attacked and a copycat move saw Liam Baker head home at the far post four minutes after their opener.
Moses tracked Marshall who shot over and then Tierney headed wide of the mark.
The Cobbydalers might have collapsed but not if skipper Mitchell had anything to do with it.
He chased down every ball, was up with the attack and back with the defence, and encouraging his team mates.
Silsden went close on two occasions in the last 10 minutes, Lamb heading Mitchell’s cross over the bar before Nicholls broke free on the right and hit a cross to Metcalfe who killed the ball in an instant and hit a powerful shot, unfortunately just too high.
Co-manager Danny Bolton said: “It’s not how we envisaged the season finishing but we have a dreadful injury list.
“We have had to bring in a lot of youngsters but it has given Ryan and myself a look at what we have coming through.
“None of the young lads let us down today.
“Our final position in the league is pleasing but we’ll have a good look at what we need to change to make next season even more successful.”
Winsford: O’Keefe, Byrne, Seol, Baker, Eiselt, Rothwell, Marshall(Ellison 77), Tierney, Matthews, Egan, E. Mitchell (Clarke 74). Subs (not used): Hammond Ellison, Devaney
Silsden: Thorpe, Consoli, Moses, Mitchell, Brown, Lamb, Metcalfe, Jalil, Haigh, Smith, Nicholls. Sub. (not used): Hollindrake.
Referee: K Mattocks.
Assistants: P Howard, J Eadon.
Winford United 2