18 October 2020


A large, noisy crowd , a very good side and a sloping pitch that the home side should know better than anyone would still prove to not be enough for 1874 Northwich as Irlam once again, as last season, grabbed the 3 points away in an exciting fixture at their Townfield base.
The home side will certainly be one of the favourites to succeed this season,and if the previous season had completed they would now be plying their trade in the Bet Victor West Division.

This would all count for little on the day however as goals from Nicholas, Ledson and Bardsley-Rowe would prove just enough to get past 1874 and claim a 3-2 victory on a dry and breezy afternoon.

Aside from a quick effort from 1874, a ruled out offside goal, the real action would appear at the opposite end of the pitch with just 5 minutes gone, Irlam wide man Max-Bardsley-Rowe would get the better of his marker down the right before whipping a cross into the 1874 area, an inch perfect ball that was met by the arriving Callum Nicholas, the Irlam forward volleying home what would be the goal of the afternoon to open the scoring.
Nicholas would nearly double his tally minutes later when he pulled a shot just wide, the 1874 keeper scrambling low down to his near post to see out the danger.

The home side would level things up 24 minutes , a penalty out of nowhere for an alleged handball, confidently given by the unsighted official saw Matt Wooley step up to confidently convert to make it 1-1.

On the half hour mark Irlam were dealt a blow as the home side turned the tables, taking the lead as Harry Cain finished off a neat move from 1874 with a whipped in shot that beat White hands down in the Irlam goal.

The lead would not last long however, and the spectators were treated to their fourth goal of the half as Sam Oliver whipped a corner in for Irlam to find skipper Ryan Ledson who was first up to the ball to confidently head home the equaliser to make it 2-2. A couple of late chances in the half were shared out between the teams, Malumo getting in a great position for Irlam, only for his effort to be blocked, whilst at the other end, Irlam full back Jack Lever made a vital block to keep the scores level.

The second half would start in spectacular fashion for Irlam,as Irlam turned defence into attack after 1874 lost possession, Nicholas with a driving ball up to Bardsley -Rowe, the no 7 creating enough space on the right side to fire his shot low and across the outstretched 1874 keeper to give Irlam the lead back in the game, 3-2.

On 65 minutes Irlam defender Karl Cassell made a vital block to keep the home side out, and minutes later the task became a bit more difficult as Full back Sam Oliver suffered a 2nd caution to put Irlam down to 10 men with over 20 minutes left.
Despite being a man down, Irlam rallied well, the players doubling up to cover the spaces as 1874 pushed for an equaliser with the home crowd encouraging them on.

Despite the game hanging on a knife edge, neither side would really dominate the final period, and a well struck chance for 1874, saved well by White would be countered by a whipped in effort by Irlam forward Malumo, neither attempts affecting the scoreboard as the clock counted down.
Two moments of drama were played out late in the half, Irlam forward Jordan Icely brought down in the 1874 area looked a certain penalty, not given by the match official, was followed by a mystery moment at the other end of the pitch. 1874 had the ball in the back of the Irlam net for what looked like the equaliser, but chaos reigned as the assistant flagged for offside, only to then put his flag back down, the match official then signalling for a high foot from the home player to rule out the goal.

Those moments proved to be the final ones of the game, and a tight affair, with Irlam certainly under pressure for periods of the game, would end with a thoroughly deserved victory and a real team effort by all.