Clarets demolition job takes Alliance League to the wire

Last updated : 21 April 2012 By Andy Ashworth
Shay McCartan equalised with a thunderbolt

Pre-match comment suggested that Adam Evans would face a late fitness test, and as the lads lined up it was clear he hadn’t made it with Jamie Frost coming in to the starting XI. Cameron Howieson had once more linked up with the 1st team squad and Charlie Holt had picked up a knock, meaning that Luke Gallagher slotted in at right back and Luke Daly came into the team. Ben Woodhead also took up the gloves in place of Josh Cook. 

Now the first half was a curious affair. There really was only one side in it as the Clarets attacked into the slight breeze. Perhaps the disappointment of losing against Carlisle had strengthened their resolve and helped them to find untapped energy reserves, but the lads were really up for it. We had numerous attempts at goal but were unfortunate that all our shots seemed to be either attracted to the keeper, or inexplicably missed the target. Jason Gilchrist had a shot deflected round the post when a break in the box presented him with a glorious chance. Shay McCartan had a low drive saved by the stretching keeper, before Gilchrist fired over from close range when the goal was gaping. 

The keeper then saved another McCartan effort and then an Alex Mullin shot through a crowd following a set piece routine. The glove man was again down quick and low to put a McCartan shot round the post after a clever Steven Hewitt free kick. The midfielder then hit the bar directly from the corner that was won as a result. Then suddenly it was 1-0 to the visitors. We were guilty of attempting to play the ball out from the back and lost possession. The ball was dinked into the box and despite the situation having zero threat we contrived to let a Wiganer poked the ball into the back of the net. It might have been a lucky break, a misjudgement or a freak bounce, but whatever it was it gave Wigan the lead. 

In the final chance of the half Hewitt went on a barnstorming run and saw his shot saved and half cleared, then ricochet off a defender and Gilchrist, before shaving the post and going wide. I’m not sure what Pash could possibly have said to the lads at half time as they were doing everything right but just getting no luck at all. 

We started the 2nd in the same fashion with a Hewitt drive drifting over, then an Archie Love free kick was patted out by the keeper and the lurking Alex Coleman was unable to sweep home. However, it wasn't too much longer that we had to wait to get back on terms. McCartan picked the ball up on the left wing and with a stinging rebuke from Pash seeming to rile him he cut inside, rode two tackles and unleashed a thunderbolt from outside the box into the top corner of the net. 

The goal relaxed us and deflated Wigan. Daly won a free kick on the left wing drawing a challenge with his quick feet and Hewitt stepped up to swing a cross in. It was on target and everyone in the box missed it, including the keeper, and we were suddenly 2-1 up. Around the hour mark it was sewn up as Frost ran at the box and played a nice one-two with Love and clipped past the keeper. 

It was the last act of Frost who was replaced by Lewis Nuttall. We took the foot off the gas at this point with the game won and more games on the horizon. We took the opportunity to give further game time to Andreas Bianga and Ntumba Massanka who came onto the field in place of Hewitt and Gilchrist. 

As we entered stoppage time we took the opportunity to put the icing on the cake. It was the corner routine that we’ve developed well in the youth team as McCartan and Love combined, allowing the midfielder to drive the ball across the box. The keeper parried but got no distance on his block, merely killing the ball and allowing Gallagher to sweep home from a yard or two out. 

One point is the difference at the top of the league and we now need to beat Stockport on Monday and hope that Wigan can put on a better display against PNE next Wednesday. 

Team:- Ben Woodhead, Luke Gallagher, Alex Mullin, Alex Coleman, Jack Errington, Archie Love, Steven Hewitt (Andreas Bianga), Luke Daly, Jason Gilchrist (Ntumba Massanka), Jamie Frost (Lewis Nuttall), Shay McCartan.
Sub not used:- Callum Jakovlevs.