Match Report: Longridge Town 5-2 Steeton
By Ellie Hamilton
Richie runs riot as Town stay top.
Town striker Richie Allen scored his fourth hat trick in as many games to go top of the division scoring charts, whilst firing Town to a 5-2 victory over Steeton.
On a sunny Ribble Valley day, in front of another excellent crowd of 207, Town went into the game knowing that nothing less than three points would do if they were to stay clear at the top of the NWCFL Division One North.
George Thomason returned on the left, and Brad Wicks started in centre mid, Danny Gardner returned wide right, with the front three of Hart, Allen and Ince all in situ.
After an even start Steeton almost broke the deadlock as they hit the crossbar, but it was to be their undoing, as Town broke quickly and Allen got his first of the game bamboozling two defenders before firing left footed into the net. 1-0 Town with 23 minutes gone.
Two minutes later and Town got a second, a clinical far post volley from Adam Lawrence after Hart’s flick. 2-0, and maybe the home support could relax.....or maybe not.
Jay pulled up injured before the half was over, to be replaced by Rio Wilson Heyes, and Steeton steadied the ship, staying in the game as the whistle blew for half time. 2-0 Town, and a fairly dominant half from the lads.
The complacency that no doubt Ashey spoke about at half time was to cost Town dearly, the next goal being vital, but it was the visitors who got back into it with a neat finish from Ben Clarkson just two minutes into the half. 2-1 Town, game on.
Three minutes later and it really was as Jack Richmond equalised for Steeton and, from a relatively comfortable position, Town were in danger of throwing it all away. 2-2 after 51 minutes.
Thankfully there was plenty of time left to play and, after a somewhat nervous 10 minutes, Richie put Longridge back ahead.
Tom Ince rolled the ball into the experienced front man and he rolled his marker superbly before firing into the roof of the net. 3-2 Town, and Ashey introduced Alex Murphy to replace the tireless Gardner.
With half an hour left to play the game was very open, which suited Town, as Rio was seeing more of the ball now having switched to the right hand side.
Running at his man Rio turned on the style, stopovers galore before firing in a cross to the front post, that was met with a superb diving header from Richie to put Town 4-2 up on 67 minutes.
Steeton continued to work hard and the game settled down, with Town playing possession football in an attempt to kill the game.
There was still time for one more goal as Wilson Heyes beat three men before cutting into the area, and finishing with the outside of his right foot into the top corner. 87 minutes gone and the game was over, 5-2 Town.
After the game Ashey was quick to praise an unsung hero.
“Joe Melling is not called a crowd favourite for nothing, I thought he was outstanding today.
"We’ve got Richie scoring another hat trick, and Tom Ince at the very top of his game, but I thought Joe was our man of the match if I’m honest.
“It was nice to get back to The MRG after last week on 3G at St Helens, all the ingredients were there for us today, another good crowd, sunshine, and apart from the five minute wobble I was pleased with how we played.
“Jay came off as a precaution really, and there is no hesitation in putting Rio on. The crowd here have warmed to him already, he’s an exciting player and today he had the end product to go with his pace and skill.
“I’ve always said that this Division will go right to the wire, but it’s still in our own hands and I wouldn’t swap with anybody.”
Town have no fixture next Saturday before travelling to fourth placed AFC Liverpool on April 6th.